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You know, I just absolutely loved this film. Seriously I did. My local Suncoast video store made a fortunate mistake when they stocked this in their martial arts section. There are no butt-kicking femmes fatales in this--everyone uses weapons. At any rate, I was browsing through the kung-fu flicks (I also picked up "Butterfly and Sword,") when this film caught my eye. Specifically, Brigitte Lin caught my eye, and I love her movies. She's credited in this as Lin Ching Hsia though, FYI. Joey Wang also caught my eye, but I wasn't very happy with that. She creeps me out, for some reason. I saw her in "The East is Red" and I couldn't figure out if she was a beautiful woman or a beautiful man. Now she just bothers me.
The plot is CONTRIVED--Lin, a lawyer (played by Brigitte Lin), receives a blackmail note from an unidentified individual. I am not actually sure what she is being blackmailed for. The person blackmailing her needs money, and that's fine, but what did Lin do that's so awful? The blackmail note is Chinese characters glued to a piece of paper, and the DVD people decided not to subtitle signs and things. Nevertheless, someone is demanding money from Lin, and at the same time her company is falling apart seemingly do to her lack of interest. She is planning on moving to Canada, and she dwells on that a bit. As it turns out, her secretary May (Pauline Wong, I guess) is terrified at the prospect of the job-hunting in store for her when Lin leaves. Lin to me seems very unfeeling about that, or possibly unaware. I spent most of the film amazed that Lin got to be such a hotshot lawyer, as she's not very intelligent or even ambitious. She convinces her stockbroker (whom she believes to be the blackmailer) to sell all her stock for cash, which the stockbroker then delivers to her house.
At the same time, another plot branch is growing. Queenie, May's roommate, has a sister, Cat, that is getting out of prison. (Both sisters are played very well by Joey Wang.) When Queenie picks up Cat she takes her to a restaurant as a "welcome home" kind of thing. Cat notices a man outside, and bolts out of the restaurant. Queenie follows her, only to be accosted by the same man. He beats her and demands that she pay him the money she owes him. She is terrified, and asks if he has her confused with someone else. He doesn't know it, but he does--he's got the wrong sister. Queenie confronts Cat with this, but decides to do the goodwill thing and get the money. May enters the picture, and explains to Queenie that Lin has oodles of money in a drawer in her house. (Remember that Lin sold all her stock--that's where the money came from.)
From here on every plot device imaginable is used. There is a continual thunderstorm that flashes almost constantly, a corpse in the basement, money in a cabinet, a gun in an upstairs bedroom, a knife in someone's pantyhose, and cyanide cuisine on the dining room table. The poisoned dinner scene is wonderfully funny, and could be more so had they carried it a little further. Lin knows that someone is going to bump her off, so she's afraid to even touch the food. Finally, in order to escape, she feigns nausea and dashes to the bathroom. Once inside she contemplates escaping through a window, but that doesn't work. Finally she opens the medicine cabinet and grabs an eyebrow pencil to write a help note. Check out the face Brigitte makes when the pencil breaks! Fortunately the above-mentioned knife is in her pantyhose, so she sharpens the pencil. What's funny is how her character seems to react to things. There are three people with reason to kill her, and she spends most of the film asking these people to do things for her. Once she catches on to the plot, she acts inconvenienced more than frightened. When her eyebrow pencil breaks, she seems to be thinking, "Well, that's one more wonderful thing to happen today" as opposed to "Oh God, what I am going to do?" Once she adjusts herself though, everyone's in for a heck of a ride--literally. The car scene at the end does cause some nerve-tightening.
All in all this is a great entertaining movie. It was interesting to see Brigitte in a contemporary movie rather than a blood-and-guts period action movie. (She looks much more tall and slender without all those robes and sashes on. I did miss seeing her slaughter roomfuls of people with sewing needles, like she did as Asia the Invincible, but you can't have everything.) Kudos to everyone involved for making this so fun to watch. (As a side note, the producer was Tsui Hark, but how can one tell? This isn't his usual kind of thing, in my opinion.) 12 out of 10. Go Brigitte!!!
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