Neither as vulgar as the title or the trailer might suggest, Vulgaria, Pang Ho-Cheung’s follow-up to Dream Home, is instead a very entertaining satire about the Hong Kong film industry. The story opens in a lecture hall, where film producer To (played by Chapman To) is giving an interview about the business in front of a crowd of college-age students (it’s a seemingly strange framing device, but one that eventually makes very clever sense). To, divorced and down on his luck, tells the students a lengthy tale about his recent efforts to get a project off the ground, while Pang makes use of flashbacks to reveal To’s convoluted, absurd and often hilarious adventure.
The producer’s only lead comes via an introduction to a shady investor, a mainland gangster called Tyrannosaurus (Ronald Cheng), who has a disturbing fondness for certain types of sex (perhaps the most classically vulgar element in the film). But he has money – and insists that To remake an old porn film using the ageing actress Yum Yum Shaw (Susan Shaw). Although Shaw agrees to star in the picture, she insists on a body double, who comes in the shape of a model nicknamed Popping Candy (Dada Chan), who eventually turns out to be not only much smarter than she first appears, but easily one of the best characters in Vulgaria.
There are genuine laugh-out-loud moments – some of the humour may be gross, some is definitely completely ridiculous. Yet, Pan certainly makes the case for the vulgarity of the industry by making fun of all the players involved – producers, directors and actors – and not to mention the audience.
Watch the trailer: