Directed by Joe Ma
Produced by Cheung Chi-sing
Written by Cheung Chi-sing and Joe Ma
Cast: Sean Lau, Anita Yuen, Ada Choi, Allen Fong, Cheung Tat-Ming, Josephine Koo, Pauline Suen, Manfred Wong, Francis Ng, Pak Yiu-Charn, Wong Yat-Fei, and Vincent Kok
The Golden Girls is a Hong Kong film from 1995. Released just two years before Hong Kong became a Chinese territory once again. It’s a movie that tries to celebrate the Hong Kong film industry, an important feature of the Hong Kong identity. The Golden Girl made at the height of Anita Yuen’s popularity, and her constant pairing with Sean Lau during these years were both thanks to the mega sleeper hit: C’est la vie, mon chéri/Endless Love from 1993.
It is the trials and tribulation of two aspiring actresses Mei Ball (Anita Yuen) and Lulu (Ada Choi Siu-Fun) trying to make it big in the 60s era Hong Kong film industry while their destinies cross path with a screenwriter Chun Wai ( Sean Lau ).
The Golden Girls is both a humorous look and occasionally a serious exploration of the harsh realities of becoming a movie star in Hong Kong in the 60s. I would be hesitant to call this film ”satirical, ” but The Golden Girls loves to poke fun at the Hong Kong film industry and even calls into question the sexist nature of the whole business. This aspect although just used for comedic effect, maybe it’s just the film’s way of subtly signaling at an uncomfortable truth that many actresses may have to live with.
The characters of the film and their stories are just a reflection of this humorous look at the Hong Kong film industry; their actions are used to show the inner workings of the whole Hong Kong film production. And another benefit of which allows the characters to act in a whimsical manner that makes them more enjoyable to watch. Which isn’t to say they’re complete self-parodies of movie tropes, but there is just a bit of self-awareness over the how they are acting like characters out of a movie at times.
Although from the love triangle focused direction the film later takes seem more like a play on the challenges of fame and what it entails. Furthermore, by the latter stages of the movie, the characters ”evolve” away from this aspect of their characters as the film’s melodrama takes center stage. What I mean in other words is a film about movies ironically aims for one of the most ”Hollywood-esque” endings. And I should add it’s done with the utmost sincerity as well and while in one scene, a Hollywood movie poster sits proudly in the background while our hero looks into the horizon looking for the love of his life. But to digress a bit, the film is filled with many quirky self-referential pop culture material. It might seem like a counterintuitive ending for a film that is a bit cynical about film production. I felt like it was the movie’s way of saying ”just because movie productions may be a shallow ordeal, it doesn’t mean all of the happy endings from movies are fake as well, happy endings can happen in reality too”.