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Sammo Kam-Bo Hung
Sammo Kam-Bo Hung,
Back in 1992, writer-producer Wong Jing hits jackpot with his seminal NAKED KILLER -- one of the most popular Category III action thrillers filled with gleefully over-the-top performances (Chingmy Yau, Simon Yam and Carina Ng), acrobatic action set-pieces, and erotic content. It was a worldwide cult sensation that inspired countless imitations. Then came NAKED WEAPON in 2002, which was basically a rehash of NAKED KILLER formula. While it was an inferior follow-up, the movie had its worthwhile moments. A decade later, Wong Jing has finally completed his "NAKED" trilogy with NAKED SOLDIER. Like the previous two movies, it's more of the same. Except this time, Wong Jing have to remove all the edgy content (read: Category III) and repackaged them with a milder version to cater for the lucrative Mainland market (well, when you have to deal with China movie industry, strict censorship is inevitable). Naturally, NAKED SOLDIER is the weakest entry of the trilogy by comparison. But if watching this as a standalone movie, it has enough outrageous action and some over-the-top performances to win over fans of exploitation cinema.
NAKED SOLDIER opens in 1980 where hotshot Interpol agent Lung Chi-Keung (Sammo Hung) has successfully infiltrated a massive drug bust and manages to confiscate all the goods worth US$25 million. The owner, Brother Power (Anthony Wong) is very upset over the matter and hires Madame Rose (Ellen Chan) and her assassins to kill Lung and his entire family over Christmas dinner at their home in Florida. Lung is lucky enough to escape death, but his beloved five-year-old daughter is kidnapped by Madame Rose and brainwashed her to make her believe she's her mother. The girl is given the name Phoenix and subsequently trained, along with other kidnapped children, to become a professional assassin when they are grown up.
Fifteen years later in 1995, Madame Rose sends out her three best squad, Phoenix (Jennifer Tse), Selina (Ankie Beilke) and Ivy (Lena Lin), to wipe out a number of high-ranking international drug leaders. Enter Sam Wong (Andy On), who works for the Beijing police force, is assigned to the Hong Kong office of Interpol, to investigate the murder case. Along with his partner Siu Pei (Timmy Hung), he also reassigns Lung to help out with the case. Lung agrees, as long as Sam reopens the case on his missing daughter.
While Selina and Ivy manage to accomplish their mission successfully, the same cannot be said to Phoenix. She is supposed to kill one of the drugs leaders' widow (Amy Lu) at the funeral in Taiwan, but she shows compassion and let her go instead even though her cover is already blown open.
Madame Rose realizes Phoenix's mistake and subsequently assigns her to kill Lung. Meanwhile, Selina has a huge grudge over Phoenix because she keeps thinking Phoenix is stealing her admirer, Dragon (Philip Ng).
The plot is formulaic at best, with a varying degree of silliness that echoes the good old '90s formula. Some might find this too outdated and awkward for today's generation, but at the very least Wong Jing doesn't take his subject seriously and make it as fun as possible.
Some of the casts here are playful enough to make them worthwhile. Model-turned-actress Jennifer Tse (sister of Nicholas Tse) made her first leading role with mild success. She is convincing when comes in the action sequences, particularly in her final showdown against Ankie Beilke. However, it's a shame that Wong Jing and director Marco Mak doesn't gives her opportunity to showcase some sexual tease as she spends most of her time fully clothed. Other than that, Tse's acting skill is exceptionally wooden. The rest of the female casts -- Ellen Chan, Ankie Beilke and Lena Lin -- have their fair share of over-the-top trashy performances. Veterans Sammo Hung and Anthony Wong show up and let loose with their playful charms.
Action-wise, Corey Yuen's martial-art choreography relies heavily on wirework as usual and he does them with some entertaining results. Coupled with fluid editing by Lee Kar-Wing and Marco Mak, the action are fun to watch for and I'm glad the filmmakers doesn't follow the annoying trend of tight close-ups often plagued in this department.
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