HK Cinema - 1985
Women had clearly been doing some wonderful action
films for many years in HK, but for most part the action was either hand
to hand or using weapons such as swords or spears. A new film company,
D&B was formed by an extremely wealthy individual named Dickson Poon.
One of the top producers in the company was Sammo. They were looking for
something new; something that would make the company stand out.
Sammo came up with the idea of a buddy cop
film – but with a difference – with two women. And not just the usual
hand to hand, but allowing them to be proficient with guns as well. The
“girls with guns” genre was born.
Sammo looked around for two appropriate candidates.
He saw an item on an American martial arts champion and sent her a proposal.
She accepted and so Sammo had the first member of the team – Cynthia Rothrock.
For the other role, Sammo turned to a co-star of his in an earlier D&B
production, Owl vs Dumbo, in which she had a non-action role. In fact,
that had been her first film and she had no action experience or martial
arts training. But she could kick. As Sammo said “If she can already kick,
we can teach her how to fight”.
This was of course Michelle Yeoh (though in
her first few films D&B called her Michelle Khan). Michelle was
born and brought up in Malaysia and went to England for her University
education. She also studied ballet, jazz and contemporary dance and at
the age of 21 she entered and won the Miss Malaysia beauty contest. In
1984 she was chosen by D&B to appear in a watch commercial with Jackie
Chan. Who would have guessed they would be co-starring in Police Story
III eight years later.
Initially, she was not going to do a lot of the
actual fighting – allowing a double to do that – but she came to the conclusion
that with training she could do a lot of this as well. So she trained extensively
and was able to perform a lot of the action seen in the film. Much of the
film is full of incredible fight sequences with the two women. The last
fight in particular is magnificent as Michelle and Cynthia take on a roomful
of bad guys and beat them in a dazzling display. It is a ferocious
fight – with the amazing Michelle stunt of putting her head through the
glass. It was hugely popular and Michelle followed it up with two more
action classics – Royal Warriors and Magnificent Warriors. Then in 1988,
she married Dickson Poon and retired from the business.
Though D&B is remembered today primarily
for their bringing Michelle Yeoh and the "Girls with Guns" films to the
HK screen, they made a large number of varied films during their years
of film production. Below is a list of many of those films.
Black Cat 1&2
Bless this House
Chinese Cop - Out
Devoted to You
Goofy Gang, The
Heart into Hearts
Heart to Heart
Hong Kong 1941
In the Line of Duty III
In the Line of Duty IV
In the Line of Duty V - Middle Man
In the Line of Duty VI - Forbidden Arsenal
In the Line of Duty VII - Sea Wolves
It's a Drink, It's a Bomb
It's a Mad Mad Mad World 1-3
Keep on Dancing
Kiss Me Goodbye
Love Into Waste
Love is Love
Mr. Boo Meets Pom Pom
Owl and Bumbo
Pom Pom Strikes Back
She Shoots Straight
Vengeance is Mine
Wrong Couples, The
You're OK, I'm OK