Beauty pageant. Colorful furs and wigs. Steroid bodies. Hunky studs. Fashion equips.
Just every common stereotype labelled to the campiness of gay life is mentioned, we’ve got to see all of them in Cut Sleeve Boys, the title itself refers to a slang, sort of, used to describe gay Asian male in UK. Whereas the premise of cultural clash of East vs. West has been brought up to the big screen through a hardship look (Yasmin), or a bone-tickling manner (East is East, Bend it Like Beckham), here the first-time director Ray Yeung chooses to focus instead on the ‘fabulous’ side of gay, leaving the cultural distinction of the characters being both Asian and gays at the door.
Which means, while the film does an almost knock-out premise, it never takes itself seriously. The film opens with the story of Gavin, a closet gay working menial jobs, who encounters death while involving in a slightly unfavorable sexual intercourse with a stranger. From this point on, the story begins, and we are required to determine ourselves how the death makes an impact to Gavin’s two best friends, Mel and Ash. Their lives as two Asian gays revolve around the listed words right below the title above, and more. Yet, they remain within the jovial side of the chosen life, while the enduring part of their cultural lives remains a yearning for us wanting for more.
As such, who can’t resist watching a maniacal ego man is having a silly catfight with a beauty-pageant-obsessed balding guy? Yet, while its fun lasts for a good an hour and a half, one can’t help looking beyond the horizon as often inserted in a few scenes of the main characters making out with their Caucasian partners: that above every campy life, there’s substance to make everything becomes contentment.