Girls with Guns are back. Well, make that Girls
with guns, lipstick and a lovely pedicure are back! OK – so this isn’t
Moon Lee, Yukari Oshima and Michiko Nishawaki, but anytime you have seven
very attractive females blowing away guys with a curled indifferent lip
and a shot to the head - my attention is totally occupied. Why I
am not quite sure – it would likely take years of analysis to figure it
out – but this sort of thing gives me much more pleasure than it probably
should. The girls with guns genre has been in a coma for years now and
though I doubt this film will resuscitate it, any sign of life gives me
The problem of course in putting on a female action
film these days is that there are really no more female action actresses.
From the days of Cheng Pei Pei through those of Moon Lee, Hong Kong cinema
has always had a steady supply of athletically gifted women to put on the
screen, but no more. These seven angels are clearly not the next wave of
action heroines. Their inclusion in this film has a lot more to do with
their curves than their moves. Now that is not necessarily a bad thing,
but you need to frame your approach to this film accordingly – this is
more a high gloss fashion video than a down and dirty crime/action film.
Director Clarence Fok brings a bit of his vaunted visual style to the film,
but leaves the darkness and perversity of Her Name is Cat, Naked Killer
and Cheap Killers far behind (with one bizarre exception). This is more
like the Girl Scouts grow up, grow breasts and decide to stop selling cookies
and become thieves.
Speaking of Her Name is Cat – it is too bad that
Fok did not use his actress from that film for this one. Almen Wong could
have given this film a much needed injection of toughness and maturity.
As anyone who has wandered onto this site should know (and much to the
horror of my friends), I can happily watch Hsu Chi paint her nails as long
as the camera focuses on her bee-sting quivering lips getting ready for
take-off. But trying to present her as an action character, as directors
have been trying to do recently, just rings false. She gives it all she
has – but she has no martial arts training, speaks in a squeaky though
endearing voice and just isn’t all that graceful. And she just looks too
young to be out there killing hardened professional ruffians with a flick
of a finger and the elan of a game show hostess.
As we all know, orphanages are a breeding ground
for criminals and out of one such training facility come seven young women
with a bent for crime and minimalist dialogue. They are hi-tech thieves
(can’t anyone just break in a window and steal anymore?) and so Hsu
Chi (Cat) walks into a high class disco and her high tech glasses relay
back to Sandra Ng (Monkey) images of the jewelry being worn and the computer
instantly calculates how much it is worth. I have met some women of course
who can do this even faster with one glance at a man and his shoes – but
they are thieves of a different sort. Hsu Chi sees Julian Cheung at the
disco and his hip appearance immediately tips her off that he is a professional
thief as well and of course they go for the same target and fall in love.
It happens every day.
Jump forward a few years – their affair has ended
– Hsu Chi is broken up like a pug's face after 10 rounds – and worse -
she is now a secretary. What happened to all that money Hsu Chi? She must
have invested it in the same stocks I did. She soon gets a video from some
Russian mafia types who show Julian being tortured and held captive. Unless
Hsu Chi steals some high security computer file/gizmo/whatcamacallit, she
will receive bits and pieces of him. Most women would be thrilled to have
a smug ex-boyfriend mailed back to them in installments, but instead Hsu
Chi gathers the old gang together again and goes to work.
Besides Sandra, these consist of Kelly Lam (Octopus),
Teresa Mak (Goldfish), Amanda Strong (Spider), Rachel Ngan and Rosemary
Vandenbrouck (a HK super model and who must be a head taller than all the
others). They all put their pouty lips together and come up with a plan
that involves trying to seduce Wong Jing, freeing a horny psycho bomb maker
(Terrance Yin) from jail and killing lots of bad guys. Of course nothing
goes quite as planned.
As one expects in a film of this kind, the
characterizations are as thin as watered down gruel and the acting has
the resonance of a tin drum, but everyone looks pretty happy to be working
and the chemistry between them is certainly no worse than if you picked
up any seven beautiful women at random on the streets of Hong Kong and
put them into a room. Considering that Hsu Chi gets all the good close-ups
I am surprised they weren’t spitting in her direction.
All this being true (or my opinion I should say),
I must confess to actually enjoying this film to a mild degree. It goes
down easy like a lemon Popsicle on a warm summer day and at least compared
to some of the other faux action films of late – For Bad Boys Only and
Skyline Cruisers – it made sense and the action scenes were easy to follow.
The one scene in which the Angels rescue Julian and lessen the gweilo population
in Hong Kong considerably was well planned out and allowed the viewer to
understand the flow of the action. And Sandra does a nice little Leon move
– ala swinging upside down from the ceiling and taking out a few very surprised
baddies. We don’t get to see Sandra kill nearly often enough in the movies.
And did I mention that the actresses are very
attractive? Seriously - would anyone watch this film with much
more expectations than that? Does anyone that puts on a film called Martial
Angels starring Hsu Chi and three models expect breathtaking action or
an incisive look at female empowerment in the modern age. I hope not because
you won’t be finding it here. Instead take off your critical blinders and
relax with a film that is as light as the last serious thought in Hsu Chi’s
My rating for this film: 6.0
Distributed by Deltamac
The transfer is fine - Hsu Chi's lips positively
Cantonese and Mandarin language tracks.
The subtitles are Chinese or English or none
(accessed through the remote as opposed to the menu which is in Chinese).
The package comes with two discs. One is the
film, the other is a promotion for Deltamac. This latter one contains 6
trailers - one for this film and then ones for: Conman in Tokyo, Healing
Hands, The Enemy, Thou Shalt Not Comment and Wishfil Milenio. And get this
- they also have three trailers for Dolby Digital and two for DTS Surround