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Issue #191 HOME E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com BACK ISSUES December 22nd, 2003

The Lady Professional
(1971; Shaw Brothers)

A Masterpiece
Highly Recommended
Very Good
Marginal Recommendation
Not Recommended
Definitely Not Recommended

Cantonese: Nui sat sau
Mandarin: Nu sha shou
English: Lady Killer

Lily Ho Li-li has the title role in this familiar but entertaining Shaw Brothers crime thriller. Back on the streets after a stay in prison, gangster Shi Yun-pu (Chan Shen) demands an extortion payment of HK$500,000 from his former boss, who runs a major smuggling syndicate. Shi has information that could put the old man behind bars for eternity and the police would love to get him to spill the beans but Shi remains defiant, even after an attempt is made on his life. The syndicate decides that they must silence Shi before it is too late and that the hit must be carried out by someone with no criminal record. Two years earlier, cafe manager Ge Tianli (Ho) dispatched a thug who had destroyed the family business and murdered her father. However, she was seen and recognized by triad lieutenant Xiaojiang (Chang Pei-shan), who has been blackmailing the girl ever since. He decides that Tianli would be the perfect killer for this assignment and claims that he will disappear from her life, if she agrees to murder Shi. Tianli eliminates the hood but, naturally, Xiaojiang can hardly be trusted to keep his word.

Co-directed by Matsuo Akinori (under his Chinese pseudonym Mai Chi-ho) and Kuei Chi-hung, this opens with an undercranked, demolition derby-style car chase that fails to impress. However, the film improves steadily from that point, with a number of stylish touches (one murder takes place in a bowling alley and features some creative lensing) and Tianli's weapon of assassination is unique (her compact has been modified to fire deadly steel pins). The plot is strictly by-the-numbers, with the change in gender the only real innovation. Lily Ho also cannot hold a candle to the regular stable of SB action heroines but brings a focus and intensity to the role that largely compensates. The wardrobe and music lend the proceedings an irresistible retro cool and a sequence where Tianli takes on a trio of killers (including a bald Bolo Yeung and an acrobatic, knife-wielding goon in a frilly dress shirt) offers some memorable moments. The ending (obviously dictated by local censorship rules of the time) is a disappointing compromise, however.

Cover art courtesy Intercontinental.

Lily Ho. Image courtesy Intercontinental.

Chan Shen. Image courtesy Intercontinental.
Intercontinental #101038 (Hong Kong label)

Dolby Digital 2.0

Post-synced Mandarin Language

Optional Subtitles in English, Traditional Chinese, Malaysian, and Indonesian

12 Chapters Illustrated in the Menu With Clips

Enhanced for 16:9 Displays

Letterboxed (2.35:1)

Coded for Region 3 Only

NTSC Format

80 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)

Contains moderate violence and brief nudity

DVD menu courtesy Intercontinental.

Singapore: PG [Passed With Cuts]

The image looks clean and detailed, with some minor jitter noticeable in a couple of sequences. The audio is left in the original mono and excessive digital noise reduction has renders the track a bit hollowed out (the action sometimes sounds like it is unfolding underwater); it is adequate but not ideal. The standard Celestial extras are provided but, once again, an original theatrical trailer is not among them.

THE LADY PROFESSIONAL is available at Poker Industries.

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