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September 13th, 2000 Issue #9

Hong Kong Digital is a recurring series of movie reviews by John Charles -- a film reviewer for Video Watchdog magazine and the author of The Hong Kong Filmography.

Women Warriors Of Kingsmen
(198?): 4/10

Cover art courtesy Ocean Shores.

Pik lik jin si

Pi li zhan shi

Thunderbolt Warriors

Lu Hsiao-fen. Image courtesy Ocean Shores.

Sex bomb Lu Hsiao-fen (or Luk Siu-fan as she's known in HK) essays a more politically correct role in this resolutely corny Taiwanese production, which is reminiscent of the Brigitte Lin Ching-hsia vehicle THE WOMEN SOLDIERS (also available on Ocean Shores VCD) in the way it piles on KMT propaganda in place of anything original or exciting.

Lu Hsiao-fen (left) and Teresa Tsui (right). Image courtesy Ocean Shores.

After an opening montage of wanton death and destruction (which takes on an unintentionally Pythonesque feel when the familiar combat imagery is immediately followed by a shot of some chickens getting blown to smithereens!), we segue into the main storyline, which follows the exploits of a female army unit charged with protecting the island of Kinmen from Mainland communist invaders. The trials and tribulations of the main soldiers are covered, including Yen Pi-tao (Lu), who is in love with frogman Wang Yi (kung fu star Don Wang Tao), orphan Su-yueh (Lui Sau-ling), whose relatives want her to go to Taiwan with them and leave her officer boyfriend behind, and company commander Kuo Chien-ying (Teresa Tsui, who played the Amazon in GOLDEN QUEENS COMMANDO and "The Woman In White" in PINK FORCE COMMANDO), whose tough-as-nails demeanour is the result of having seen her parents slaughtered by communists, while still a very young child. When Pi-tao's father is found dead with a Red Army knife stuck in his back, she sets out on a one-woman mission of vengeance and gets her chance when a pair of enemy divers sneak ashore one evening. While Wang takes care of one, Pi-tao handles the other but is fatally wounded. Before expiring, she uses a grenade to destroy herself and the invader. This prompts the staging of a major military exercise, so that both the female and male squads will be at peak readiness for the inevitable invasion.

Lui Sau-Ling. Image courtesy Ocean Shores.

Director Yang Chia-yun fills the movie with training exercises and patriotic music but no real action until nearly the one hour mark. While, admittedly, it would be a major re-write of history to actually have hordes of bloodthirsty Commies massing on the beaches for a final battle, the fact that we are watching nothing but a training operation eliminates any sense of excitement and leaves the endless shots of marching troops, battalions of tanks, and fleets of helicopters devoid of impact.

VCD Specs:

Ocean Shores #CV-536
Digital Mono
Cantonese Left Channel/Mandarin Right Channel
Chinese and English subtitles
89 minutes

It isn't clear whether this was shot in 2.35:1 or just 1.85:1 but the cropping of the image is usually not a problem; the subtitles are video generated and fit comfortably on-screen. The presentation is what you would expect from an old Ocean Shores transfer: soft and pale, with weak contrasts and night sequences lacking in detail. The expected VCD compression flaws are also there but are generally not a major distraction. The sound is adequate (as is often the case, the Cantonese version has a different score). KINGSMEN is singular onscreen and the title itself is video generated and not original.

Teresa Tsui. Image courtesy Ocean Shores.

Copyright © John Charles 2000. All Rights Reserved.

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