The Heroic Trio


In my mind this is the ultimate fantasy action film to come out of HK. It is so creative and stylish and pure fun that it boggles and charms me even after numerous viewings. Though not based on a comic book, it certainly has a comic book feel and flair to it but done with so much more imagination and heart than Hollywood has been able to produce in their attempts to bring comic books to the screen - and at a comparatively minuscule budget.
The setting is HK in the near future and the Heroic Trio are of course - Anita Mui as Wonder Woman; Maggie Cheung as Thief Catcher and Michelle Yeoh as Invisible Girl. All three have never looked more stunning or seemed more charismatic as they do here.

The plot - baby boys are being kidnapped by an evil underground presence in order to once again put an Emperor on the throne of China. The three super heroines eventually team up after many plot twists to fight against this evil presence along with his bizarre finger eating helper - Anthony Wong.

There are many sublimely glorious moments in this film - Wonder Woman running across the telephone wires to save the baby, Thief Catcher riding the exploding barrel, Invisible Girl slowly becoming visible in the convertible, the glance of dim recognition between Wonder Woman & Invisible Girl in the hospital, Wonder Woman grabbing and holding Invisible Girl - and so many more. Some perhaps corny and melodramatic - but just right for his film.
There is simply great heart in this film - certainly between the three heroines, but also between Wonder Woman and her husband and between Invisible Girl and her lover. This is just a perfect film in my mind.

My rating for this film: 10


Reviewed by YTSL

"I choose projects with the people, scripts, the combination of things. And I really don't care if it's a comedy or what, you know.  I can still have a good trip on that film.  That's how I see it.  Each film is a trip for me" (Maggie Cheung, in Miles Wood's "Cine East", a very nice book of interviews with twelve Hong Kong movie folk).

"I loved...(THE HEROIC TRIO and "Executioners") because I got the chance to work with Maggie and Anita.  Being on that set was like holiday time.  It was just like being with your family...we were all so close....Maggie, Anita and I have been such good friends even before this, and it was great to work on a film together" (Michelle Yeoh, in an interview that can be accessed via the links page of Jane Ding's invaluable Michelle Yeoh web site).

Absolutely the best thing for me about THE HEROIC TRIO is the very obvious camaraderie and chemistry that abounds among and binds its three lead characters.  I know it sounds corny -- and stupid even -- but the thought that Anita Mui, Michelle Yeoh and Maggie Cheung are friendly even when they are not in their Wonder Woman (a.k.a. Tung, a.k.a. Mrs. Lau), Invisible Girl (a.k.a. San, a.k.a. Ching) and Thief-Catcher (a.k.a. Chat) personae actually makes this fan-girl happy.  Whether it is an act or not, I am utterly charmed to read such as the above attestations by -- it should be recognized and remembered -- two star actresses of Hong Kong movies for two decades (who hopefully, will continue to be so for many more years to come).
Somewhere (else) on the internet, I have also read Michelle Yeoh's account of this threesome having had barbecues practically every night on the set of THE HEROIC TRIO.  This image of their happily kicking back and enjoying each other's company pops into my head during scenes which feature all three, sometimes even just two, of these women.  While Stefan Hammond and Mike Wilkins (in their ""Sex and Zen" and "A Bullet in the Head"" book) commend the lead actresses for remaining "admirably straight-faced throughout the bizarre spectacle" that is this astoundingly stylish production as a whole, my own -- not necessarily oppositional -- view is that what comes through the most in their performances is the sense of FUN that they are having doing what they are doing (bar for those thankfully few times when the script calls for their characters to feel and display such as sadness, pathos and despair).
It is hard not to smile upon hearing Chat whistling the tune of "London Bridge is falling down" while setting off to do her thief catching (especially when one realizes that Maggie Cheung spent most of her youth in England).  One can't help but exult with Wonder Woman and the watching children after she saves their friend and her pet, then grin when Mrs. Lau hushes the happy kiddies to make sure that her superheroine identity is not revealed.  The kind of laughter that seems to come from the belly (inadvertently) issued out of this viewer when watching Thief Catcher attempt to knock off the head of the Evil Eunuch (interestingly given, at least in the Cantonese dub, a female voice and alternately referred to both as a "he" and "she" in the English subtitles) with her own head.  Additionally, I somewhat inexplicably was moved to clap and cheer as well as grin when the Three Eastern Heroes (since this is the movie's Chinese title, I assume that is also THE HEROIC TRIO's alternative appellation) drape on their cloaks before going off and meet the press.
Confession:  I enjoyed THE HEROIC TRIO more this recent second time around rather than on first viewing.  This is due in large part because I was previously (too) majorly in the throes of Michelle Yeoh fever and, consequently, was somewhat frustrated that the Invisible Girl was, well, so...invisible for a large part of the picture.  It is also my sense that those who have not yet been thoroughly acclimatized to the world of Hong Kong movies might find this innovative fantasy too:  Outrageously fantastic (while I can enjoy good "wire-fu" these days, it initially came across as strange rather than spectacular); shocking (children do die in violent ways...and this IS the only film I have ever seen which features a character (played by Anthony Wong) who eats his own chopped off body parts as well as cute flying birds!); and schizophrenically generally campy yet also, in parts, seriously dramatic and touching (with regards to the last, I think here especially of Invisible Woman's scenes with her scientist love (portrayed by James Pak, who I last saw convincingly be a major slime ball in "Remains of a Woman"!)).
IMHO, one also should not be too bothered as to whether there are bona fide in-house jokes in such as the apparently least domestic of the three actresses being the one playing the happily married woman in this piece and reputedly the most serious of them acting as the most irresponsible character.  Ditto re not really seeing the three heroines as representations of the Three Chinas (the Mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong) as some people actually have.  As I have subsequently realized, nothing ought to detract a viewer from appreciating the considerable delights that THE HEROIC TRIO has on offer.

My rating for the film:  8.5.