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Cheng Pei Pei fights Chinese Police and Japanese officials
The VCD case says KUNG FU GIRL, the on-screen title is NONE BUT THE BRAVE, and the title on the English dub that played in the U.S. in 1974 was ATTACK OF THE KUNG FU GIRLS. Whatever it's called, all you really need to know about it is that it stars Cheng Pei Pei and it was her first film at Golden Harvest after she'd left Shaw Bros. after completing THE SHADOW WHIP (1971) for director Lo Wei, who also directed this film. Lo Wei had left Shaw after THE SHADOW WHIP also, but had made eight films at Golden Harvest in the interim, including Bruce Lee's first two starring vehicles. Cheng Pei Pei would make one more film for Golden Harvest (WHIPLASH) before taking a nine-year hiatus from the screen.
The star has quite a number of good kung fu scenes. She fights hand-to-hand here after relying chiefly on swords or whips in her Shaw films. She even uses a gun a few times. She does many of her own stunts including some that are a bit riskier than she was used to at Shaw. The film is set in Beijing in the early years of the Chinese Republic at a time when President Yuan tried to get himself declared Emperor and was secretly making deals with the encroaching Japanese. Cheng Pei Pei plays Shao Ying, a leader of a small resistance unit, and she goes to Beijing to meet Captain Lei (Wei Au) of the Investigation Bureau and impersonate his long-lost sister. He falls for it and she uses her position in his household as a means of getting information to find imprisoned rebel leader Tsai. She meets the Japanese Consul, who takes a liking to her and she has to feign interest in him in order to keep up appearances. In the course of it most of her rebel compadres get caught and imprisoned until, finally, it's up to her alone to find Tsai and free him.
It's quite a convoluted plot and I couldn't understand everything that happened, partly because of the lack of translation of signs and handwritten notes, which carry a lot of import here. The subtitles on the worn print used for this VCD transfer (from the Fortune Star Legendary Collection line) are unreadable in many places due to white titles on a white background or just being so faint as to lose part of the letters. In one scene, a written message is smuggled to a rebel leader operating undercover. He then goes somewhere masquerading as a bun vendor and is quickly surrounded by undercover police who arrest him. Since the note was untranslated we don't know whether he heeded the message or not. But it does seem kind of stupid to go to all that trouble only to have him so easily captured. This kind of thing happens often enough in the movie that we wonder what the point of having a spy in the captain's house is if everyone gets captured anyway. Eventually Shao Ying has to use the favor she's gained with the Japanese to solve the mystery of Tsai's location.
Cheng Pei Pei was directed by Lo Wei in so many better movies at Shaw Bros., including DRAGON SWAMP, SHADOW WHIP and BROTHERS FIVE. However, the fight scenes here are much more rigorous and she does show great aptitude as a fighting star even if her brief tenure at Golden Harvest was overshadowed by the studio's true kung fu diva, Angela Mao. (Interestingly, I saw this film, under its U.S. release title, ATTACK OF THE KUNG FU GIRLS on a double bill at a Times Square theater in 1974 where it played with STING OF THE DRAGON MASTERS, the Angela Mao vehicle better known as WHEN TAEKWONDO STRIKES.)
Lo Wei appears on screen in a key supporting role as Commissioner Wu, Captain Lei's superior and the one most eager to kowtow to the Japanese. Jackie Chan appears in a small role as a Japanese bully who gets beaten up by Shao Ying in a Beijing restaurant. Japanese actor Jo Shishido (A COLT IS MY PASSPORT, ASIA-POL) plays the Japanese Consul and has a fight scene at the end with Cheng Pei Pei.
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