UK Premiere: Life is Cheap… But Toilet Paper is Expensive
Image credit: Arbelos Films

UK Premiere: Life is Cheap… But Toilet Paper is Expensive

classified 18 S

Restored & Rediscovered


Please note: This was screened in July 2023

Wayne Wang
Spencer Nakasako, Cora Miao, Chan Kim Wan, Victor Wong
83 mins, Subtitled, 1990, USA / Hong Kong

A nameless cowboy (Spencer Nakasako) arrives in Hong Kong, tasked with bringing a briefcase to a local crime kingpin, where he falls in love with the gangster’s mistress (Cora Miao).

Imploding from a basic, pulpy premise, Wayne Wang plays fast and loose with genre, blurring the lines between gangster film, political polemics and DIY filmmaking all at once, including supporting cast roles for erstwhile Shaw Brothers and Golden Harvest studio regulars such as Lo Lieh and Lo Wei.

As the film becomes increasingly convoluted (and gorgeously stylised), we come across a rogue’s gallery of Hong Kong’s many social classes at the start of the city’s last decade before the Handover back to mainland China.

Content warning: The film contains documentary footage from a Hong Kong livestock market, including scenes which some viewers may find upsetting.

A 4K Digital restoration by Lightbox Film Center at University of the Arts, in collaboration with University of California Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. Funding provided by Ron and Suzanne Naples. Restoration and remastering supervised by Ross Lipman in consultation with Wayne Wang. With thanks to Arbelos.

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