Jet is a really handsome “hustler,” a male prostitute in Hong Kong. His beauty is depicted as being androgynous, to the point of making one doubt as to how he should be admired. Men and women alike turn their heads whenever he passes by.
The movie begins with him wondering around the bustling streets of Hong Kong. There, one might mistake him for a rich teenager off to spend his free time enjoying his youth. But this illusion is shattered when a middle aged man approaches him and leads him to a room, while he gladly tags along.
During one of these idle wondering about the streets in search of wealthy “patrons,” Jet fancies looking at his reflection on one museum’s glass window. As he was consciously grooming himself, he notices a couple smiling inside, with the girl mentioning how narcissistic he was. Jet didn’t care much about the girl, but his eyes were on the guy with her.
He soon acknowledges the fact that he has a crush on this young man. This fact he mentions to one of his fellow hustlers, Ching. Ching then warns him that it wouldn’t be a good idea to fall in love, and states that he bases his advice on his own experience.
But later, it is discovered that Ching has submitted a call on the newspaper, describing how Jet is desperately searching for that guy in the museum.
It couldn’t be blunter:
“I saw you in the museum. Please meet with me, I can’t stop thinking about you: Jet.”
When Jet learns of this, he gets furious, as many men have stepped forward, claiming to be that guy from the museum.
But soon, the real young man meets with him, and he happens to be a policeman. His name turns out to be Sam.
Soon the two become intimate friends. At one point, Sam brings jet to his house and introduces him to his parents. Jet, who has decided not to tell Sam about his “occupation,” acts as sweet and timid as a teenage girl. All the while, his crush for Sam has developed into a thick cocktail of passionately sincere love and deep and unquenchable lust.
Jet is torn between keeping his progress with Sam and telling him the truth about his being a hustler. Sam seemed very disciplined and upright, and his mother even related that she once caught him smoking and she saw nothing wrong with it but Sam was ashamed of himself. This begins to make Jet feel anxious.
In reality, Sam has a dark and murky past, intricately woven with the various twists and turns of infidelity, as he has a relationship with upcoming celebrity K.S. while being in a romantic relationship with Ching, who was not yet a hustler then. These signs of unfaithfulness and indifference are ironically shown with soft kisses and racy scenes in both the shower and on the bed.
In the end, Jet learns of Sam’s past but accepts it. The problem came from Sam himself, who couldn’t accept his own past. He ends up committing suicide as he leaves Jet crying on his bed as the credits begin showing.
Let me warn you first that this movie depicts Homosexual content, and it is not for the shallow minded people who cannot comprehend the aesthetics behind homoeroticism.
Thus, we proceed.
The movie showcases several famous stars of the Chinese film industry, with some of them debuting in it. The main character, Jet, is played by Stephen Fung. Sam is played by newcomer Daniel Wu, who would later be dubbed the “Young Andy Lau.” Terence Yin also debuts in this film as K.S. while Shu Qi plays Kana.
Let’s start with the good points.
The movie has a delightfully intricate story line, with so much irony that one should be warned not to expect anything while watching it. The fact that it was Jet, who was the hustler, that ended up being innocent, and Sam, who was the policeman, who turned out to be the heartless infidel was one of the most striking forms of irony I have ever encountered.
The title of the movie, Bishounen, is Japanese for “young male beauty,” and true enough, the movie showcases just that. It showcases various types of male beauty, from the bad boy (Ching) to the utterly androgynous (Jet) to the “boy next door” (Sam).
Now, to the bad parts.
The story, no matter how intricate it is, is nonetheless corny. It’s all the same cliché we see in movies, with just a bit of difference. It explicitly points out how love is the most important thing in the universe.
What about this thing called survival? Shouldn’t you be thinking how you’re gonna live for the next day before you think about love?
There are also flaws in the plot. One main flaw is the fact that Sam managed to figure out that it was Jet who posted the message on the newspaper. This was as possible as a bunch of spare airplane parts being assembled back to an airplane by a tornado. And it was even more impossible to actually find Jet, considering the millions of people in Hong Kong.
Then there is Kana, that girl that Sam was with in the museum. Who was she? She was only shown momentarily, namely in the museum, in this bar where a lesbian picks her up after she turns Jet down, in an antique shop where she has a picture of her, K.S. and Sam and in this scene where she brings Sam’s final letter to Jet. The creator might have either created an enigmatic character of mystery shrouded with ambiguity, or just plain forgot to develop the character. The latter seemed more likely.
I also found that old woman narrator to be quite useless. Why put a narrator when e can already see the character’s motions? And why a woman?
I also think that Terence Yin, great an actor as he is, isn’t suited for the role. What about Nicholas Tse, wouldn’t he suit the role better? Imagine a bed scene between him and Nicholas Fung…
All in all, the movie is exceptional for its brilliance in emphasizing male beauty and attempt at intricacy but horrible mediocre in theme and bad in a few minor details. It is nonetheless advisable to watch it if you’re looking for aesthetic matter.