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Super Models Return to Review Archive - S

Super Models

Charlie Cho and Samuel Leung are not Super Models.

Chinese: 色模  
Year: 2015
Director: Law Wai-Man, Yan Kit
Writer: Wan Li, Tam Hung

Pakho Chau Pak-Ho, Wylie Chiu, Nat Chan Bak-Cheung, JJ Jia, Law Kar-Ying, Charlie Cho Cha-Lei, Renee Dai Mung-Mung, Amy Ai Mei-Kei, Melody Chan Yeuk-Lam, Monie Tung Man-Lei, Ken Wong Hap-Hei, Steven Wong Ka-Lok, Samuel Leung Cheuk-Moon, Jin Chan Leung-Ming, Lee Ting-Ting, Liz Ma Wing-Man, Lawrence Cheng Tan-Shui, Tats Lau Yi-Tat, Wong Lo-Yiu, Cecilia Ngan Hau-Kwan, Lanna Wong Ha-Wai

The Skinny: A lazy and uninspiring movie about Hong Kong pseudo-models – a subject that’s been handled better in other films. Despite cameos and supporting roles by numerous Hong Kong celebrities, Super Models falls flat and fails to entertain on even the most basic levels. Even fans of the Category III genre will find little here to be enthusiastic about.
Paul Fox:
We should start with a primer on Hong Kong’s pseudo-model (or leng mo) phenomenon. Pseudo-models are self-made “models” that, through a combination of self-promotion and the building of an online fan base, are able to establish lucrative careers. The most successful are able to break through the ceiling of semi-pro status and become full-on celebrities, following in the footsteps of icons like Angelababy and Chrissie Chau. The heyday of the pseudo-model was in the mid-to-late 2000s, and the market has since become saturated, given that anyone with a decent camera, some digital media skills and in Instagram account can become a ‘model’ these days.

Thus we have Super Models which, along with numerous Hong Kong stars, features a number of local “supermodels” with names like Yanni, Ava, Icy and Lluvy (that’s right, her name has two L’s). Many of these girls only appear briefly in short scenes and their names appear in on-screen titles like an old Shaw Brothers film, as if the audience should recognize these “famous” faces. To be fair, there is a demographic in Hong Kong that does follow the career paths of these girls, but for the general audience these models are mostly unrecognizable.

The plot features two groups of girls vying to be the next model to make it in an industry that dishes out much more failure than success. One group finds itself under the guidance of a young promoter named Peter, who eventually pimps the girls out to Charlie (Charlie Cho), a big time agent who runs his “agency” under the title Charlie’s Angel. In truth, Charlie is just using the company as an excuse to bed young girls.

The other group consists of three friends who gain financial backing from Katherine (J.J. Jia), who – for reasons that are never made clear – was asked by her father (Nat Chan) to set up and train a new generation of Hong Kong models. Managed by May (Wylie Chiu) under the company name “Babyface”, the group comes into conflict with some of the girls from Charlie’s Angel.

Typical plot hooks like model training montages, exploitation and wardrobe malfunctions are present, but also shoehorned in are details that play like Hong Kong’s version of a Deliverance-style man-rape (it’s supposed to be funny). The film also references acid bombings, another local news staple of the late 2000s. The narrative does attempt to address the darker side of the modeling industry, and the fine line between modeling and sex work, but the message falls short compared to the slapstick and sexy-time sequences.

As the film frequently shifts between problems faced by each group of girls, it begins to feel like two different films altogether. The girls in Charlie’s cohort are stuck with the bulk of the Category III material, whereas the the girls in Katherine's group engage in antics resembling a Wong Jing-style Category IIb comedy. Production values are also problematic; scenes look cinematically closer to a TVB drama, there are a range of editing issues, and the narrative is roughly-paced.

While longtime fans of Hong Kong Cinema may have some fun with the recognizable faces that do show up, these moments are very brief and do little to actually support the plot. Fans of the Category III genre have even less to be excited about, as the scenes that do call for the rating are poorly staged and not well executed. They actually play more like the Category IIb Lan Kwai Fong films, only less well-crafted. With so little to offer, it is difficult to recommend Super Models to any but the most devout Hong Kong film fan. (Paul Fox, 12/2016)


DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Kam & Ronson
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

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