Last Eunuch in China (1988)

Directed by
Reviewed by Simon 1/16/2006
Reviewed by Simon on 2006-01-16

Lai Shi is a decent young man living in rural china at the start of the 20th century. Seeing the power the eunuchs hold, he declares his intention to become one. His family object, but his father is won over by the promise of "chicken ass" (to eat!). Unfortunately, no sooner has Lai Shi had the snip than news arrives that the emperor has been overthrown... not a good time to be a eunuch! Lai Shi goes to Peking and joins Sammo Hung's opera troupe, hoping that the tides will turn and his sacrifice will reap some rewards.

A good performance from Max Mok, who is on screen almost constantly. Irene Wan (who, according to her bio on the Universe DVD, "besides her career, all her love affairs were bad too"!) is solid as his childhood friend, and Wu Ma and Sammo are also good.

The subject matter is perhaps an odd one for a western viewer to understand. The film isn't exactly a deep, philosophical study of the politics of the time which made Lai Shi's decision a plausible one then a regrettable one though - nor an especially profound study of Lai Shi's character. It's an interesting enough tale and well presented, carried mainly by Max Mok's performance.