Naked Comes the Huntress opens with three travellers in the snowy wastes of Mongolia, hunting for valuable ginseng that will make them rich. As they battle the elements and the threat of starvation they come across a woman lying naked (but very much alive) in the snow surrounded by the wild minks of the region. The treasure-hunters approach her and fall into her trap, and ultimately discover that this woman will tear them apart and lead one of them to murder and betrayal.
If my synopsis sounds good, that's because the individual parts are, in themselves, quite appealing. The illusive (and naked) Mien Mien, the snowy wastes, the three travellers, the legend of the ginseng that will bring them untold riches, the kung fu (promised on the DVD cover). But the film fails to deliver on every single one of these. Even as the story progresses and further appealing elements are introduced - such as corrupt monks and the possibility of mental breakdown - it fails to deliver on these. For example, the film opens with the travellers depicted in vast snowy vistas, evoking Lawrence of Arabia at times, and yet by the end of the film these have been ditched for back-lot and studio locations, all of which are conspicuously snow-free. There is very little kung fu, and what there is is quite pedestrian. The ginseng becomes a very simple plot contrivance (not even a MacGuffin), and the Huntress, together with her Nakedness, very soon lose all their mystery. She even disappears out of the story for long periods after the first act and is soon reduced to a supporting character. All of which makes this quite a dull watch and a missed opportunity, considering the rather intriguing first 10 minutes.
The best thing to be said about this film is the characters of the travellers and how their relationships shift and change as their loyalties are tested from within and without. That this kind of character development could be achieved within such a dull plot is surprising, and suggests that this film was compromised by someone further down the line than the writer.
This film is notable perhaps for having a Chinese actress doing nude scenes, rather than bringing a Japanese actress in as was (and still is) the usual practice.
Not worth watching, unless you're a completist of some sort.
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