Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The World of Suzie Wong|
Actors: William Holden, Nancy Kwan, Sylvia Syms, Michael Wilding, Jacqui Chan
Director: Richard Quine
Genres: Indie & Art House, Classics, Drama
Story of the love between a struggling American artist and a beautiful Chinese prostitute in Hong Kong. Genre: Feature Film-Drama Rating: NR Release Date: 29-JUN-2004 Media Type: DVD
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Victoria G. from SAN ANSELMO, CA
Reviewed on 8/23/2009...
Really liked it
0 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
A True Human Expeience
Michael C. Smith | San Francisco, CA United States | 07/02/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"'The World Of Suzie Wong' the romanticized story of a Hong Kong prostitute and an American artist is for some, a simplistic racist view of Chinese, for others, a guilty pleasure. Yes, it is both of those things but it is even more. It is a fine and tender love story of two people from very different worlds who overcome pride and prejudice and embark upon a true human experience. Forty four years after its release this film along with 'Flower Drum Song' are being re-evaluated and embraced by the Chinese American community. Why? Because beneath the surface of each film they share the common job of telling the story of their time and place with honesty and true humanity and in the case of Suzie Wong, the story is not such a happy one.
At first we are presented in `Suzie Wong' a stereotypical view of happy little hookers in the Wan Chai district of Hong Kong. But as the story unfolds the veneer of this portrait cracks open to reveal through Suzie just how desperate the lives of these women are. In a city of over three million crammed onto the island city it is a case of do what you must to survive. In Suzie's case she must compartmentalize her feeling into body, love, and soul and thus protect herself by pretending that she is the daughter of a rich merchant rather than a Wan Chai bargirl. Though her relationship with Robert they both learn the meaning and cost of love in a world of narrow view and prejudice.
The film is very adult and honest in dealing with the subject of the flesh trade and racism in 1960 must have been a bit shocking on several levels. This film must be credited with opening the door to telling more honest stories of Asian's with Asian actors in the major roles. After all, not too many years before we had Jennifer Jones playing a Eurasian in 'Love Is A Many Splendored Thing'. She did a fine job, but still she was miscast. Here we have Nancy Kwan creating a memorable character, as it should be, by someone of Asian descent.
Nancy Kwan is luminous in the role of Suzie. This was a star making turn for her and led to other good roles over the years. She is sexy, with a street-smart veneer that covers her open and trusting heart. She rises to the many emotional challenges of Suzie and succeeds in carrying the viewer through the film as only an accomplished actress can. The camera falls in love with her, as does the reluctant Robert.
William Holden is perfectly cast as the "pushing forty" American who has come to Hong Kong to pursue his dream of being an artist. He is a pro who give the role just the feeling of wonder and discovery it needs blended with a certain worldliness that it requires. Together, Kwan and Holden are an intoxicatingly romantic couple that share a chemistry on screen most films of this genre aspire to but few achieve.
The supporting cast is filled out by standouts such as Jacqui Chan as Gwennie Lee, Andy Ho as Ah Tong, Michael Wilding as Ben Marlow and Sylvia Simms as Suzie's rival, Kay O'Neill.
Geoffrey Unsworth also known for his work on 'Becket', '2001 A Space Odyssey' and 'Cabaret' stunningly photographed Hong Kong for the film. His use of light and color is unsurpassed in capturing the long gone look of the city in 1960. The art direction of John Box is superb. He is best known for his work with David Lean on 'Doctor Zhivago' and 'Lawrence of Arabia'.
It is all expertly helmed by director Richard Quine who is also responsible for 'Bell, Book, and Candle', 'Strangers When We Meet' and the delightful 'How To Murder Your Wife'.
Of special note are the stunningly beautiful paintings of Miss Kwan by artist Liz Moore. They are indeed wonderful and one wishes there had been an addition to the DVD of slides of this artist's painting for the film.
'The World of Suzie Wong' is a film that holds both an important place in film history and the hearts film buffs and romantics around the globe. So on that rainy Saturday afternoon when you need a little romance, drama and travel to a far off land pop in this new DVD of 'Suzie Wong' and be carried away."
One of my guilty pleasures
BrainDrain | Oshkosh, WI USA | 04/03/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of many East meets West love stories of the period, and was the second for William Holden in Hong Kong (he'd previously starred in "Love is a Many Splendored Thing" with Jennifer Jones). In this movie, not only is the relationship East meets West, it is also May/December as Holden is much older than Nancy Kwan (her first film, according to Internet Movie Database). As it happens, Holden is a fine enough actor to make the romance fairly believable, though credulity is strained as there is another young woman chasing his affections, played by Sylvia Syms. Holden is less believable in the few action scenes. The basic plot is that William Holden is a restless American who leaves the rat race to become a painter in Hong Kong (or was he already a painter? I forget). He rents a room (complete with a great view terrace), in a Hong Kong brothel, and while searching for models, his attention is naturally drawn by the stunning Nancy Kwan, a local prostitute. Matters are complicated when he hangs around with the local British society, where his work draws the impassioned attention of blonde beauty Sylvia Syms, who happens to have clout in the art world and who instantly decides to champion his work. Of course, she finds the artist far more interesting than his art, and therein hangs a tale. What carries this movie is the radiant beauty of the two leading ladies -- both Nancy Kwan and Sylvia Syms are luminous. The tension between the two women is very convincing as they vie against each other for Holden's love. Indeed, one wishes it could have led to a catfight. Alas, this was not to be, but catfight fans will be pleased to know that Kwan does have a brief brawl with another Chinese prostitute. The Hong Kong background is lush and beautiful, and used to great effect. The story also has enough complexities and ethical challenges to sustain interest. Unfortunately, it is all too typical of the roles given to Asian actresses -- Nancy Kwan plays a prostitute with the proverbial heart of gold, and there is also the paternalistic condescencion taken for granted in those days, with Holden portrayed as the answer man and Nancy Kwan as the emotional woman he must get in line. Thus, the movie has a fairly large list of flaws. Despite this, it is a well-crafted entertainment with many good points to balance its defecits. No, there's nothing especially original here, but this type of story has been successful many times, as it was more recently with "Pretty Woman." Definitely worth watching."
Romantic, charming, humorous, interesting
Michael C. Smith | 12/31/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Nancy Kwan is very beautiful and talented. William Holden shows a side of himself not usually seen, that is, betwixed, off-guard, yet enchanted by Ms. Kwans character. Her character teaches him what Chinese people hold valued although the movie is seen through a Westerner's eyes. The scenery is extremely captivating, as Hong Kong surely would not look this way again, so the moment in time is a treasure in itself. I watched this movie about 10 times over a month period because I loved the romantic story, the boy meets girl, loses girl formula, the snooty characters and of course William Holden for taking on such an unusual story."