Richly enjoyable HK take on Indiana Jones style action fun
I saw this for about the third time last night, mildly inebriated and had a wonderful time. It's essential viewing for Michelle Yeoh fans, as she gives one of her most ass kicking performances whilst looking sweet throughout. She plays a sort of female Indiana Jones type with nifty kung fu skills, and whups numerous bad folk from start to finish, ably supported by Tung Shing Yee. The plot is a standard heroic Chinese take on weaselly Japanese type affair, as our heroes seek to prevent the building of a poison gas factory in a mountain town and rescue its sympathetic leader Youda, well portrayed by Lowell Lo as a slightly weak and fuddled but basically good patriotic guy. Richard Ng provides the most obvious laughs with his swindler character, again, basically a good guy and the whole crew are an engaging lovable bunch. The Japanese are all pretty villainous and are helped out by leg fighting genius and veteran bad guy Hwang Jang Lee. The film is simply great entertainment throughout, with a fairly light tone and plenty of laughs. The choreography and stunt work is top notch, making for real thrills and the pace is fast. At times the budget seems lower than it should have been but this doesn't hurt too much, the only real problems are the final block and the underuse of Hwang Jang Lee. In the last twenty minutes or so the film goes into more of a battle mode and neglects the martial arts, which is a real shame. Criminally it does not give us a proper final fight scene and the conclusion is a tad unsatisfying. Also, Hwang Jang Lee doesn't get to do much of his trademark awesome leg work, nor is his character up to the standards of the thoroughly mean folks he has played in the past. It made me a bit sad, especially what with his roles in Drunken Master or Snake In The Eagles Shadow, to name just two. Another, more minor issue for me was that despite the copious amounts of bullets and arrows flying about, barely a drop of blood is seen in the movie. I don't expect Lone Wolf And Cub style violence in these films and I know the film was trying to be light hearted, but it definitely would have given the final third more of a punch. Still, these are small issues compared with how much joy I got out of watching this. Fans of Michelle Yeoh or Hong Kong action from the Eighties definitely need to check this one out.
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