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Incredible Rumour (1968)
Director: Hoh Gin Yip
Cast: Connie Chan, Lui Kei, Petrina Fung Bo-bo, Ha Ping, Lydia Shum

Publisher: Winson; Format: VCD, DVD (Region 0)
English subtitles: Yes
Full credits and synposis from the HKFA online catalog
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A woman runs a restaurant together with her two daughters, the older Suk-lan (Connie Chan) and the younger Suk-fan (Petrina Fung Bo-bo). When a relative introduces the rich and eligible Tsi-min (Lui Kei) to Suk-lan, it’s love at first sight, but Tsi-min’s mother, at least in the beginning, isn’t so eager to let her son become intimate with a mere waitress. Instead she tries to hook him up with the very rich—and very fat—Ting (Lydia Shum), who has just returned to Hong Kong from Sidney after graduation. Tsi-min doesn’t like her choice, so at the first opportunity he introduces Suk-lan to his mother. Even she has to agree with him: Suk-lan really is a very beautiful and polite girl. Everything’s fine until one day when Suk-lan’s sister spots their mother entering a sketchy building in one of the city’s worst neighborhoods. The two sisters try at first to reassure themselves, reminding each other that their mother gives ikebana lessons every Saturday. Maybe that’s what she does in the building. But then Suk-lan decides to find out for herself; she follows her mother and discovers something decidedly unpleasant. And even if it were something that she and her sister could bear, having a mother with shady dealings in the bad part of town is not the best thing when one is planning a marriage into high society.

In director Hoh Gin Yip’s films there is often a parent or adult who is by convention meant to set a good example for the younger generation. This person represents an indisputable authority, especially on moral matters; but as we discover later, he or she has a dubious past, frequently much worse than the small infractions of morality for which the sons and daughters are blamed. In this context, the choice of Ha Ping as the mother with a checkered past who raises two daughters by herself is absolutely perfect. Not particularly good-looking, but always passionate and with an unforgettable scratchy voice, this actress has so often played a wasted—even violent—yet always big-hearted woman, that when she arrived at the end of the sixties to play this role in Incredible Rumor, she had such an on-screen past that as soon as she appears, you immediately anticipate the unfolding of some uncomfortable situation.

Perfect too is Connie Chan, but for the opposite reason: her characters have always been so responsible, so irrepressible and so full of positive energy, that as soon as she appears you know that she will try with all her strength to right every wrong. At her side stands Lui Kei, who can’t avoid his characteristic moments of rage; but for once, in his perpetual role as the rich, handsome and sometimes spoiled boy, he has the guts to put aside all moral issues and simply tries to discover what’s going on with his fiancée’s mother, not to condemn her but simply to find a solution. Finally, let’s not forget Petrina Fung Bo-bo, who doesn’t have a strong presence but surely has the best scene: a wild dance with a guy during a party that is entertaining, funny and very groovy. Quite the dancer, Petrina is delightful to watch, with her pigtails and green shoes!

Beside the performances, Incredible Rumor is also well made: for example, the use of voice over to provide sharp irony (Lui Kei commenting to himself about Lydia Shum’s “qualities”) and the use of a split screen to present a flashback. All in all, it’s a very satisfying movie, even if the characters do lack a bit of depth, something that seems to be missing in Hoh Gin Yip’s other films (Four Darling Daughters, for instance). Considering that it was made in 1968, when Cantonese cinema was entering a difficult period of change before its temporary demise in 1971, Incredible Rumor manages to be entertaining without being mired by nonsense, silly songs, shocking situations and good performers stuck with bad scripts.

Reviewed by Valentina Verrocchio
Lydia Shum and Lui Kei in Incredible Rumour
Lui Kei would rather stay a bachelor then marry Lydia Shum.

Lui Kei and Connie Chan in Incredible Rumour
On the other hand, Connie would make a perfect wife.

Fung Bo-bo in Incredible Rumour
Fung Bo-bo gets down and shows her groove thang!

Connie Chan and Lui Kei in Incredible Rumour
Looking forward to a life spent together....

Connie Chan in Incredible Rumour
But will her mother’s secret get in the way?

Connie Chan and Ha Ping in Incredible Rumour
Crushed and forlorn, Connie has lost all faith in her mother.

Ha Ping and Lui Kei in Incredible Rumour
But Lui Kei is determined to find out the facts behind the terrible rumor.

Connie Chan and Lui Kei in Incredible Rumour
In the end, happiness prevails as Connie and Lui Kei get married with his mother’s blessing.