Biographies, Books, Film reference, Recommended posts, Reviews, USA

The Movies of Amy Yip

Undoubtedly enthusiastic guide to a cult Hong Kong actress, but let down by messy execution and unfortunate leery tone…

For few years in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s Amy Yip (葉子楣) was one of the leading ladies in Cat III Hong Kong cinema, with films such as Erotic Ghost Story and Sex and Zen becoming big box office hits, and now considered as legitimate cult classics. And like her contemporary Chingmy Yau, she actually managed to succeed without showing off her naked body, relying rather on the art of teasing the potential of her body. Chaz Gower is clearly someone besotted by the charms of Yip, which has led to this book, a mix of synopsis and reviews of her films (including her early TV work and notable bit parts) and some commentary on the actress herself.

On the positive side, the clear enthusiasm Gower has for his subject shines through, and he has an easy and conversational written style that is easy to read. Also, by taking on an actress whose career was listed to a few short years, he’s able to explore the vast majority of her roles in reasonable detail. There’s also an interesting few pages on the darker side of the Hong Kong film industry, about how involved the Triads were.

However, this is very much a fan piece, which means the whole feel of the book is more akin to a fan Blog. This is exaggerated by both the production quality, which is hurt by the reliance on fuzzy screen captures and low-resolution pictures from un-named sources, and also in the style of the reviews. Some are just random thoughts about the film or Yip’s performance, others are scene-by-scene spoiler rests, and one in particular (for Robotrix) is packed full of quotes and observations from other viewpoints. It’s also a shame that the list of the movies and their local Box Office takings isn’t cross-referenced back to the main text.

But none of this would necessarily make this a bad book – the charm can outweigh some of the professionalism, and Yip is a touchstone actress for a certain sort of movie that had its heyday in the golden age of Hong Kong Cinema. The real problem I have with it is the overall leery tone.

Now let’s not be under any misconceptions about the main draw of Amy Yip. She was an incredibly attractive woman, with an amazing figure, and very large breasts. She was a sex symbol. I’m not immune to her physical charms! However, too much of this book seems to obsess over either how much flesh she shows in any movie, or how many punches and/or kicks her breasts receive. The nadir of this part of the book is the section which uses multiple screen captures to try and work out if her nipple is on display in one scene or not. Personally, I found it pretty distasteful, and in this #METOO age, the inappropriate nature of focussing on the male gaze just seems even more wrong.

You can’t fault the enthusiasm of this book, and it’s really good to see one of the lesser-known lights of the Hong Kong film industry get some focus. It’s just a pity that the execution is a little sloppy and that the tone makes it uncomfortable reading for the wrong reasons.

The Movies of Amy Yip is available on Amazon.

Book details

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Publisher: Independently published.

Edition: 2018

Written by Chaz Gower.

About the author

Stephen Palmer
Millionaire Playboy by day, Masked Avenger for Justice by Night, Stephen battles...... Oh ok, I am an English Film Geek who also publishes his own ramblings on http://gweiloramblings.wordpress.com/ More »
Read all posts by Stephen Palmer

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7 thoughts on “The Movies of Amy Yip

  1. amy yip fan says:

    this “not that great” review is rather funny considering this site displays ad ´s for the book!( in fact if i wouldnt have the seen the ad chances were that the book would have “escaped “me!) well as i couldnt find a single review (before..)nor a single “sample” page.. i ventured and bought a copy..well my enthusiasm is limited…i didnt read it (yet) but this is more like a thick fanboy “zine” with large font and many empty space to “expand” it to a (so called) book…well the irony is…yes thats the “only book” you get about amy yip…oh well at least its cheap…(?)

    “Personally, I found it pretty distasteful, and in this #METOO age, the inappropriate nature of focussing on the male gaze just seems even more wrong.”
    oh thats soo sweeet…..how about fitting perfectly into the “political correct” agenda please consult “Millionaire Playboy by day” (?!)mr. palmer….i mean of course i watch amy yip´s movies because of her awesome character/personality…*rolleyes*

  2. Andrew Heskins says:

    Haha, well you know we wanted to support the fact that THERE IS a book on Amy Yip, but we also knew our review should reflect how we honestly felt about the book once we’d had a chance to read it. Truth is even our ‘millionaire playboy’ has had to tone his demeanour down these days. Seriously though, the lecherous tone does no one any favours.

  3. Well I assume you realise the ‘millionaire playboy’ tag is meant to be ironic! But I thing the specific criticism of that particular chapter is valid – the book tries to make the point there’s more to her than boobies, and then proceedes to undergo an anatomy of a nip-slip. I’m not being a SJW, merely pointing out something that’s pretty distasteful. There’s a world of difference between saying ‘you look nice today’, and ‘nudge nudge wink wink I can see your nipples’

  4. amy yip fan says:

    i think so that it was meant to be “ironic”..i just thought its a bit strange… along with the “Me too” attitude/ movement..oh well…

    I can´t comment on the writing/tone itself… as i just browsed thru the book so its for the moment “tough” to give a proper/final judgement…what i know is: Amy Yip is indeed all abou “the tease”…apparently only “side boobs”…so far Fans the so called “nipple slip” can be quite of interest..perhaps i should re-visit “Sex and Zen” … weren´t her breasts kinda “exposed” in that one(as an exception)…or was that a body double ?..frankly i was never 100% sure about this subject…perhaps this “academic” book gives an answer to that..(though i dont have high hope´s…)

  5. Chaz Gower says:

    Hey!
    As the writer of the book, I very much appreciate the review and I’m a big fan of this website, but just so Stephen Palmer doesn’t take too much heat for his opinion’s, let me express a few of mine here real quick.

    For anyone who doesn’t write for a website that is viewable to the world, giving complete access to whatever thoughts and expressions we EVER write, it’s easy to dismiss today’s journalist for having a fear of having certain things bounce back and smack them in the face. I have no qualms about SP’s views on my book. He may actually feel as he writes, but it wouldn’t surprise me either if he just… doesn’t want to be labeled the wrong way.

    What you write online, can end up in the news one day….

    BUT… in my defense…

    Amy’s whole career was about her boobs.
    Me? I didn’t make it that way. That’s how all of Southeast Asia made it and reflected it through the media. That’s how AMY played it to full effect.
    And a lot of people enjoyed that and continue to enjoy that to this very day.
    I’m just reporting on it and having some fun with it.
    The entire industry of movies is all about the attractiveness of the people they hire to play the parts.
    What, you’re not supposed to enjoy it?

    If the sexuality we see in movies causes people to objectify women, shouldn’t we be just as worried about what VIOLENCE in movies does? Why is that so accepted?
    If I wrote a book on every gay bashing/aids joke in a Hong Kong movie from the 80’s and 90’s (and I probably could – there were a lot), and I laughed at the stupidity of it – would that be the wrong approach?
    Or would anyone even care?

    Why is natural sexuality so frowned upon in the world?

    Amy had an amazing body, and I dealt with that pretty openly in the book. Her career – and I had nothing to do with her career – was defined at a certain point by if her nipples would ever be exposed for the world to see.
    Pretty stupid, but that’s what happened.
    They were – I showed it – that’s how the story ended.

    In between I dealt with her TV career in more detail (really the only detail) that it’s ever been written about – I celebrated her acting ability, as no one has even come close to writing about, I reviewed each of her movie roles in an expansive form that no one has ever done, and I put out the only book to collect this information on her that’s ever been published.

    And I made it cheap!

    It IS a fan book. Because honestly, who else would write it?

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