Ai Nu: Intimate Confessions of Chinese Courtesan (愛奴)
Hong Kong / 1972 / 97 min / Mandarin / Drama
Director: Chor Yuen
Cast: Lily Ho, Betty Pei Ti
The Skinny: Don’t mess with the Brothel Newbie
Plato Score: B+
So you’re a fresh-faced farm girl, you’re kidnapped, taken to a far-off land, and you’re forced into a life of prostitution – What do you do? Well, naturally you enact a Grade-A plan of whup-ass and start an affair with your Madame…
In the canon of Shaw Brothers Kung Fu cinema, Ai Nu: Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan stands out for its bold lesbian story line and graphic depictions of sex and corruption (read: super-tame by today’s standards). So popular it was that director Yuen remade the film in 1984 and it heavily influenced 1992’s Naked Killer.
The story centres on Ai Nu who is not having it that she’s now a kept woman. From the get-go she lashes out at Madame Chun and her thugs, yet her fresh-meat status among the rich clientele make her a popular commodity. Madame Chun eventually keeps her in line while simultaneously developing feelings for the farm girl. Ai Nu ostensibly changes her tune and begins to fulfill her courtesan duties as well as her girl-on-girl action with Madame Chun. But when the male elites start dropping like flies and Chief Ji shows up to investigate, Ai Nu is implicated. It all shakes down with some glorious, gory and over-the-top fight scenes.
Ai Nu: Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan could very well be the producers attempt at hacking into the well-worn exploitation genre of its day, but at the heart it presents an intriguing view of female heroism and alternative loving. Madame Chun’s desire is arguably made to look abnormal but her powerful position and the lack of opposition to her and Ai Nu’s canoodling is noteworthy.
While the lesbian relationship ends up where you expect it, it’s still worth it to see some hot dames kicking ass and gettin’ some for their own.