L~ (1957)
The Splendour of Youth


Reviewed by: Stephe
Date: 01/27/2011

The Splendour of Youth (aka The Tender Age), from 1957, is a
sordid melodrama about a schoolgirl misled into depravity by her
best friend's mother. At this point, I had seen 25 of Panorama's
Cathay films, so I was surprised to find not one familiar face in
this film. The acting is quite good, but the plot content, which
concerns decadent aristocratic partiers, is appalling, rife with
unsavory characters manipulating each other for their own ends.
The last ten minutes of the film trots out one heartwrenching
trainwreck after another, to the point where one's credulity is
strained to the maximum and beyond. The overall content of what
transpires would merit an R rating even to this day, even though
there are no curse words nor nudity, so it must have been quite
shocking for 1957. It would have been so for 1967, too, actually.
I suppose claims could be made for this film's having camp value,
but only of a cynical Andy Warhol or David Lynch sort. I must
admit, however, that the film stayed with and grew on me, on the
strength of the characters and the acting. Powerful stuff.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: dleedlee
Date: 12/12/2003
Summary: The Dark Side of the Cinderella Story

The story takes place between Christmas Eve and Chinese New Year but there's little to be festive about in this film.

Schoolgirl Xiangying (Tsi Lo-Lin) goes to live with best friend and schoolmate Daini/Dol-Lei (Mui Yee). Daini lives in a enormous house with her two younger sisters. Daini, however, doesn't let Xiangying participate in the nightly parties downstairs, instead, telling her to concentrate on her studies. The mother Fan Tai (Lai Cheuk-Cheuk) is sympathetic and encourages Xiangying to join in the gatherings, going so far as to give her a party dress, shoes, etc on Christmas Eve to wear at the evening's party. Xiangying becomes the main attraction of the party and meets her Prince Charming, Johnny Tan (Cheung Ying) but she must return to her bedroom before Daini returns home and discovers her.

As the story unfolds, we slowly discover the secrets of the Fan household and a grim one it is. By film's end, the casualty count has mounted and almost no one escapes unscathed. Happy New Year!

Ng Chor-Fan plays an engineer trainee, Liqun, who befriends Xiangying and rescues her from a rape attempt. His working class noble roots contrasts against those of the Richie Rich swells like Banker Xue and his ilk.

The film has an aura of underlying mystery and successfully manipulates the viewer into siding against Daini and rooting for Xiangying and Fan Tai. And even though Johnny Tan's moustache should have been a give away, we fall for his charm, his dastardliness not being apparent until late in the game.

Reviewer Score: 8