A porn star is born

A porn star is born
Josie Ho (left) and Hong Kong actor Chapman To (right) star in Naked Ambition.

3D NAKED AMBITION (R21)

105 minutes

The story: Wayman (Chapman To) turns into an overnight sensation when he steps in for a porn shoot in Japan. His unlikely rise to the top occurs because he gets dominated by the actress, upending traditional gender roles. Cuzuki Hatoyama (Josie Ho) becomes his agent, gives him the stage name Mario Ozawa and a star is born. Eventually, another Hong Kong adult actor Nagasaki Naoki (Louis Koo) comes along to challenge his reign.

Naked Ambition is a sex comedy with some smarts.

It reverses traditional gender roles in pornography and subverts the idea of the male gaze. It is women who are turned on as Wayman, later Mario, is thrust into the more passive role and ultimately ends up succumbing to feminine desire.

An early lesson he learns: Say no three times and then give in once.

Feminists and sex studies majors would have a field day here.

The progressive message though is soon shoved aside by breasts, and plenty of it. To (Vulgaria, 2012) works with six famous Japanese AV (adult video) actresses and, in this case, "work with" means "has sex scene with".

Someone certainly enjoyed himself making Naked Ambition.

In one funny send-up, Mario is a timid salaryman who is hunted by a lusty and aggressive woman. His fate is sealed when he enters a ladies-only train carriage by mistake and he ends up getting boob-smacked by his L-cup pursuer.

And as he gamely grimaces and feigns reluctance in the sex scenes, To will have you laughing along.

Another funny highlight is when Mario, in a parody of a gongfu movie cliche, goes off to master a technique. The reclusive teacher proclaims memorably after making a move: "That fly just died from an orgasm given by my fingers."

But as far as smutty comedies go, Naked Ambition is not quite in the same league as, say, Pang Ho Cheung's witty and heartfelt A.V. (2005) or even Matt Chow's irrepressible Golden Chickensss (2014). Ho's Cuzuki is meant to be a sympathetic character but she does not make as much of an impact as Chickensss' Kam.

The suave-looking Koo offers some giggles here as a porn actor on the rise, but the rivalry between him and Mario gets dragged out too long and the film starts to sag.

After all, it is not the length that matters.


This article was first published on June 4, 2014.
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