Michelle Yeoh - Ching/San/Invisible Girl
Anita Mui - Tung/Wonder Woman
Maggie Cheung - Chat/Thief Catcher
Damian Lau - Inspector Lau
Yen Shi-Kwan - Evil MasterDirected by:
This film is one of a batch that I own, and have owned for some time, that fall into the guilty pleasure section of the home video collection. It is not a GOOD movie but it is a FUN movie.
Starring three of the most attractive and skilled women of the 90's at the height of their talents it is easy to see why anyone would even think to make this movie much less watch it!
Taking place in what I believe to be either a not so distant future or more likely an alternate reality, somewhere where it is OK to have an inch of dust in a concrete warehouse like hospital, a rash of baby-nappings by an invisible force have the police baffled and the citizens frightened. Only the mysterious "Wonder Woman" (no relation to the DC heroine of the same name, not sure how they pulled that off.) and the bounty hunter "Thief Catcher" stand a chance to find the person or persons responsible and save the children.
The police never stood a chance since the culprit behind it all is the ancient Evil Master who has coerced a woman to steal an invisibility robe from a young scientist and kidnap male babies so that he may choose China's next emperor.
You know what? I should mention that I watched the Chinese language version with English subtitles. I mention this only because if you watch the film dubbed it is an entirely different story, and not that good of one either! I've long gotten over my "dubbed snobbery" phase and recognize that the dubbed films do open up the audience parameters and most of the time are close enough to not drastically alter the overall arc, but this movie was atrocious! Half way into the film on a whim I decided to check the audio options. (This movie starts automatically and does not immediately show you the menu) I turned on the English subtitles but did not switch the actual audio track and at first I thought they were somehow out of sync with each other. What was being spoken was not even close to the subtitles! One of them was horribly wrong! I actually started the movie over with the Chinese audio and English subtitles and I think the subtitles were the closer of the two as to what was going on on screen. OK, that being said I'll continue. Where was I? Right! Evil Master's baby fetish.
So Wonder Woman, who just so happens to be the mild-mannered wife of the police detective in charge of the baby-napping case and Thief Catcher each do their best in their own ways to catch the invisible criminal. During an attempt to lure the kidnapper out Thief Catcher uses a baby as bait. Wonder Woman doesn't care for this technique and tries to take the baby back. A struggle ensues between Thief, Wonder and the Invisible Woman which causes the death of the baby.
Invisible Woman, who has long had reservations about what she is doing, reveals herself to Thief Catcher. The two have a shared past as they were both "employed" by the Evil Master once. Thief escaped and fought her way back to humanity. She tries to talk Invisible Woman into helping the side of right but is apparently unsuccessful.
Eventually the inner struggle within her and her love for the doctor who is dying from the chemicals he has used to perfect the invisibility robe wins out and the three women join forces to fight the Evil Master and his cannibalistic henchman. (Whose weapon of choice is FLIPPIN' FLYIN' GUILLOTINE!!!
) While doing so Wonder Woman and Invisible Woman discover that they too have a shared past further strengthening the resolve of Invisible Woman to defeat Evil Master.
Like I said, this is not a great movie. Visually it is pretty damn awesome! The film was directed by Johnnie To, who is a prolific yet acclaimed Hong King director known for mixing action with brilliant artistic vision and produced by Tony Ching, one of the more famous stunt/fight choreographers of Hong Kong cinema. The two together make this movie more of a collection of incredible vignettes both dramatic and action filled and sometimes both. Marry their vision with 3 incredibly beautiful women with some incredible martial art skills and you get something pretty damn fun!
Since it is more of a collection of short stories there are some plot issues with overall arc. I can only assume that Invisible Woman has been secretly stealing the doctors experiment every night to do her masters bidding but I an unsure as to why the robe does not effect her the way that it has the doctor. If the thing is lethal to create one would think it might be lethal to use.
The back stories of the women are all told through flash backs and therefore not terribly developed. We are told of Thief's escape but not how, when or even how she was ever taken in. For that matter we have no idea how Invisible Woman came to be in the clutches of Evil Master. We see how she and Wonder got separated but that is about it.
Minor quibbles for a film that was most likely made for the same reason that much of Hong Kong cinema was made at the time, talented good looking people flying through the doing impossible stunts to defeat the evil guy. 'Nuff said.
Actually not "'nuff said".. I really want to point out one reason I enjoy these types of films from this era.. the fight scenes and effects, all practical! No computers, no digital manipulation, just wires, camera tricks and incredible stunt work usually by the stars themselves! NOW that is 'nuff said!
Fair warning, there are some some scenes of violence against children that may make some uncomfortable. If it doesn't please seek help. If you are fan of any of the stars or of Hong Kong action films I encourage you to fight through these scenes, shield your eyes if you must, and check out The Heroic Trio. I think you will have fun.
6 beautiful, high kicking, wire aided flying super-heroines out of 10!