Life Is Cheap... But Toilet Paper Is Expensive

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Life Is Cheap... But Toilet Paper Is Expensive
Directed byWayne Wang
Written bySpencer Nakasako
Amir Mokri
Wayne Wang
Produced byWinnie Mokri
StarringCheng Wan Kin
CinematographyAmir Mokri
Edited bySandy Nervig
Music byMark Adler
Far East Stars
Forever Profit Investment
Distributed bySilverlight Entertainment
Release date
  • August 24, 1990 (1990-08-24)
Running time
83 minutes
CountryUnited States

Life Is Cheap... But Toilet Paper Is Expensive is a 1989 black comedy film directed by Wayne Wang.[1] The film stars Cheng Wan Kin and John Chan. It won an award at the 1990 Rotterdam International Film Festival.[2]

Plot summary[edit]

A man is hired, by people he believes to be gangsters, to deliver a briefcase from America to Hong Kong.


  • Lo Wai as The Big Boss, Mr Lo
  • Cora Miao as Money
  • Bonnie Ngai as Ying Ying (The Daughter)
  • John Chan as The Anthropologist (The Son In Law)
  • Cheng Wan Kin as Duck Killer
  • Kwan-Min Cheng as Uncle Cheng
  • Allen Fong as Taxi Driver
  • Rocky Wing Cheung Ho as Punk #2
  • Angela Yu Chien as Blue Velvet


Director Wayne Wang in 1982

The film was the subject of controversy when it originally received an X rating from the Motion Picture Association of America, the distributor, Silverlight Entertainment, chose to release it without this rating and with a self-anointed adults-only A rating.[3]

On their TV show for the week of August 13–17, 1990, the late film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert praised the decision to apply the A rating since it was a concept they had often discussed on At the Movies in the context of harshly criticizing the MPAA's standards of forcing serious films aimed at adult audiences to either undergo damaging edits to receive R ratings or be locked out of most theatrical and advertising outlets. While neither Roger nor Gene thought the movie was very good (they both gave it a thumbs-down verdict) they appreciated the director and studio taking this stand, and hoped it would someday lead to a viable ratings designation for films that were for adults but weren't pornographic.[4]


  1. ^ Canby, Vincent (1990-08-24). "Life Is Cheap... But Toilet Paper Is Expensive (1991) Review/Film; A Quirky Return to Hong Kong, the Last Frontier". The New York Times.
  2. ^ "KNF Award". International Film Festival Rotterdam. Archived from the original on 2013-03-07.
  3. ^ Fox, David (July 25, 1990). "Distributor Rejects X Rating, Gives Its Adult Film an A". The Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ "Flatliners / Young Guns II / The Two Jakes (1990)". Siskel & Ebert. Event begins at 17:46. Retrieved August 12, 2015.

External links[edit]