Brave Young Girls

Director: Kam Bo
Hong Kong
Year: 1990
Length: 86 minutes

This 1990 “Girls with Guns” flick has some great talent onboard, but never utilizes them as well as it should have. From the mid-1980’s to the early 90’s low budget production companies were spitting out these types of films by the handful but the vast majority of them had extremely generic storylines that were in place simply to support the action set pieces. In truth “Girls with Guns” fans could generally care less about plot and not much more about characterization – and forget about sets or design – just find a warehouse and have a fight. Action is what mattered and this is what these types of films are judged on – how many fights and how good was the action choreography. This one falls into mid-range territory with a number of decent fights but they tend to be shorter than one would like and the camera placement is surprisingly weak often showing the punches and kicks missing their intended targets by a good margin.

Yukari Oshima
Through different paths four women find themselves banding together to take down the bad guys. Hong (Margaret Lee Tin-long) is part of a brother/sister robbery duo who have sneaked in from China and need money to pay for their mother’s treatment. In an attempted robbery the brother is killed by the police and Hong goes on the run. Li (Jo Jo Ngan Lai-yue) has just returned from school and dear mom (Pak Yan) and pop (Gam Bui) want her to make some money by becoming a hostess. Due to their gambling problem they are deeply in hock to Cheng Gai (Shing Fui-on). Cheng Gai is a nasty piece of work who runs girls, lends money and deals in drugs. When the girls cross him he doesn’t hesitate to punch them in the face or force them to drink urine (which his men happily supply). Li also goes on the run where she crosses paths and helps Hong avoid capture by the cops. She stays with her grandfather (veteran actor Cheung Hei), but her parents track her down and drag her back to work at a club run by Cheng Gai and his girlfriend (Betty Chan Pooi-kei). Hong eventually also begins working for Cheng Gai as a chicken in a one-woman brothel. Another prostitute Jenny (Ha Chi-chun) is a tough cookie who helps Li escape from the clutches of a horny client one night.
Margaret Lee and Jo Jo Ngan
Into this social drama comes a Japanese female cop who is working with the HK cops to bring down Cheng Gai and his boss Reng Ga (Leung Kar-yan). This cop of course is played by the great Yukari Oshima. She doesn’t show up till the 45-minute mark but does so with an immediate fight with Cheng Gai and his gang and besides the pleasure of watching Yukari and her great kicks, the viewer is given the opportunity to see her fight Shing Fui-on – I don’t recall too many films showing his kung fu skills – for good reason! Yukari later enlists the brave young girls to work undercover for her – but they are soon captured and tied up. Yukari shows up to save the day and has a solid though much too quick fight with Dan Mintz and then a better one with Leung Kar-yan.
Shing Fui-on and Betty Chan
There are a couple other smaller fights along the way – one that opens the film but has no women involved. In a pointless but much appreciated cameo Kara Hui Ying-hung shows up to kick lots of butt and then walks off never to be seen again! I wanted more Kara! It is a solid fight though. One poorly used action actress is Ha Chi-chun who was a terrific but little known player – one of her best known roles is as a Viet Cong in Eastern Condors – she has great skills but only gets to use them in a small fight near the end. The action choreography is from James Ha who also plays one of the thugs who gets beaten up a few times. It is decent though clearly quickly shot film and Yukari has a few real good moments of acrobatic flips and falls and her trademark kick over her head move. All in all not a bad addition to this genre but it could have been lots better.

Ha Chi-chun, Cheng Chung Hei, Yukari, Gam Bui

My rating for this film: 6.0