White Elephant Blogathon: Feeding Boys, Ayaya (2003)

Image Source: Lustralboy

Synopsis:In modern-day Beijing, two boys from the same family end up on opposite ends of the same moral spectrum. Xiao Bo, seeking a career that allows him adventure and freedom from commitment while providing enough cash to keep him in designer clothes, turns to a life of prostitution. His brother Dabin is an Evangelical Christian who wants to save his brother from eternal damnation. Scheming to convince the boys of Beijing to reform their ways and find a path to happiness that doesn’t force them to sell their bodies on the streets, Dabin himself gets involved in prostitution when Xiao Bo goes missing. But will Dabin’s outrageous plan to martyr himself to his cause pay off – or will he fall into the same inescapable trap that ensnared his little brother?

This film was assigned to me by another sadistic participant in the White Elephant Blogathon, hosted by Silly Hats Only. Now in its fifth year, the WE seeks to showcase “cinema’s widows and orphans – notorious stinkers, cult favorites, so-bad-they’re-great classics, and movies that time almost forgot.” Check out Silly Hats today and all this weekend to watch the contributions pour in, including a review of the film I submitted, 1984’s Runaway, a futuristic crime drama starring Tom Selleck and KISS frontman Gene Simmons.

I know exactly what you’re thinking. “Hey! We suffered through all those Japanese animation reviews, but then she promised us she’d get back to classic film! And now we gotta read about some obscure direct-to-video Chinese movie from 2003? What gives?!? Is this an April Fools’ joke?”

Well, yes. But it’s not an April Fools’ joke on you – it’s a joke on me.

A “white elephant” is defined as “a possession entailing great expense out of proportion to its usefulness or value to the owner.” It’s almost as if Zi’en Cui, the writer/director/producer of Feeding Boys, Ayaya (which I have been referring to around the house as Feeding Boys, Aye Carumba!), expected his film to become a white elephant, and therefore put as little time, money, and effort into it as possible. It doesn’t really matter if your film doesn’t make any profit whatsoever when you only spent $4 on it to begin with. Then again, it also turns the whole thing into a self-fulfilling prophecy, doesn’t it? Because, at its core, I don’t believe Feeding Boys is a bad film. The premise – about an Evangelical virgin in Beijing who seeks to infiltrate the world of male prostitution only to help its members see the light and reform their ways – is intriguing and original to say the least. But it’s not only the extremely low budget the film suffers from; the filmmakers also seem to lack even a basic understanding of how to make a movie. I wonder if the director has even seen a movie. The camera wobbles constantly, performers are perpetually out of frame – they filmed an entire daytime scene against a plate glass window, for goodness’ sake! I try pretty hard not to blame a filmmaker for things that are out of their control, such as budget and lack of formal training – but really, I’m only human. There’s only so much I can forgive. (more…)