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Originally published Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 3:02 PM

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'Vulgaria': a raunchy, yet good-natured, Hong Kong comedy

A movie review of "Vulgaria," billed as the raunchiest Hong Kong comedy ever made. It invites comparison to "The Hangover" with its crude but ultimately good-natured chronicle of a B-movie producer on a quest to regain the respect of his family.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie review 2.5 stars

'Vulgaria,' with Chapman To, Dada Chan, Simon Lui, Susan Shaw. Directed by Pang Ho-cheung, from a screenplay by Pang, Lam Chiu-wing and Luk Yee-sum. 92 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. In Cantonese, with English subtitles. Pacific Place.

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The running joke about movie producers is that nobody knows what they actually do. In the slapdash Hong Kong comedy "Vulgaria," the not-very-successful B-movie- producer To Wai-Chen (Chapman To) has no illusions about the nature of his job.

"We exist to reduce friction between people," he says, likening his work to a private part of the human anatomy.

That's a typically lowbrow perspective from To, who's speaking to a film-school class. His Q&A responses prompt flashbacks to the harried production of his latest film, a remake of "Confessions of a Concubine," a 1976 sex romp. But he won't remake it unless he can convince an aging diva (Susan Shaw) to reprise her role in the original film. She agrees on one condition: To and his producing partner (Simon Lui) must have sex with a mule.

Thankfully, we never learn if the producers actually fulfill that request, but that doesn't stop "Vulgaria" — dubiously billed as the raunchiest Hong Kong comedy ever made — from earning comparison to "The Hangover." "Vulgaria" is certainly crude, but most of its amusing vulgarity is discreetly held off screen.

It's pleasantly surprising, then, to discover that To's exploits are all an effort to appease his disapproving ex-wife (Kristal Tin) and earn the respect of his estranged daughter (Jacqueline Chan). His sincerity keeps "Vulgaria" dramatically on track.

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