3/12/09

B.L.O.G Presents The Heroic Trio (1993)

Well hello folks, I am finally back. Sorry about the late posting today,  but the old Bugg has had a lot going on this week. I want to thank you folks who voted in the Choose Your Own Adventure Terrifying Tuesday, and so far, if nothing changes, it appears that Hello of The Living Dead won. However we'll see what happens. 

Tonight we're got our own thing happening. Cause it's Thursday, and time for another installment of Beautiful Ladies of Genre. It's been a couple of weeks since we visited Asia, and the beautiful Meiko Kaji. Unlike Meiko Kaji, tonight's B.L.O.G. does not hail from Japan. Instead she comes from the land of the Ringgitt, the top exporter of palm oil, and everyone's favorite Federal Constitutional Elective Monarchy, that's right, I'm sure you all knew by now, but if you were haven't guessed; I'm talking Malyasia   And so I want you all to give a big welcome to my favorite Malaysian actress.....

That's right, Michelle Yeoh. While the actress is synonymous with the Japanese action cinema of the last 20 or so years, she was actually born in Ipoh, Malaysia. After winning Miss Malaysia in 1983 and competing in the same year's Miss World competition, Michelle started her film career off with a bit part in The Owl vs. Bumbo (featuring Sammo Hung). Slowly her star began to rise, but by 1987, Yeoh got married and retired from acting. Luckily she made her return to cinema a few years later with the 1992 Jackie Chan movie Supercop. Since then she has once more become a mainstay in both Asian and American cinema. Yeoh appeared as a Bond girl in Tomorrow Never Dies in 1997 and then followed that up with a powerhouse performance in the critically acclaimed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Back in 1993, Michelle was just getting her career back on track when she starred in this film about the adventures of three female superheroes known as....
The Heroic Trio (1993) starring Michelle Yeoh, Anita Mui, Maggie Chung, and Damian Lau. Directed by Johnny To. 

There's a rash of missing babies across the city, and Inspector Lau (Damian Lau) of the Hong Kong police force is having a hard time cracking the case. Unknown to him, his wife Tung (Anita Mui) is moonlighting as Shadow Fox, a knife wielding crime fighter. Shadow Fox is soon having better luck on the case than her beleaguered husband and discovers that the culprit behind the crime is The Invisible Woman (Yeoh). Enslaved to an evil master, the Invisible Woman is being forced to kidnap babies whose lineage could allow them to become Emperor. Then there's the Thief Catcher a.k.a Mercy the Mercenary who will work for anyone with the money to pay her. After failing to rescue a baby from the clutches of the master, she teams up with Shadow Fox to save all the children, but without the help of The Invisible Woman, can they defeat the master and stop his evil plan?

Film  Facts

--Damian Lau got his start in the early John Woo film Last Hurrah of Chivalry.

--Maggie Chung will appear in the 2009 Quentin Tarrantino Inglourious Basterds as Madame Minieux. 

--Director Johnny To is most known for his string of crime films including Election, PTU, and  Fulltime Killer. 

--Siu-Tung Ching, the stunt coordinator, also choreographed the stunts for John Woo's films The Killer and  A Better Tomorrow. 

The Bugg Picture

One of my favorite films to just kick back and watch is Michelle Yeoh's Silver Hawk (2004). It's a patently silly romp filled with costumed superhero goodness and  a generous helping of wire-fu. Like many folks, my exposure to martial arts films was limited to the Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and the gun-fu of John Woo. Then the kung fu ballet known as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon came along. This not only changed the way I looked at martial arts films, and the larger than life action they could contain, but it introduced me to Michelle Yeoh. As the unrequited love of Master Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun Fat) and an asskicker on her own right, Yeoh stole my heart away, and I became a big fan. So when I found out about The Heroic Trio, visions of Silver Hawk 2 danced in my head, and I eagerly awaited getting to see this flick.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed. While The Heroic Trio is a pretty fun little film, it left me wanting much more. The three lead actresses; Yeoh, Chung, and Mui; all do a serviceable job in their roles. None of them stand out or take the script beyond what is on the page, the overall effect feeling like a low budget live action manga. That's not such a terrible thing, but the acting was so flat at some points that I had a hard time giving a crap about the heros or the villains. Couple that with a severe lack of a cohesive plot and one had to wonder if the ultimate blame lays at the feet of the screenwriter. 

That's where the real trouble begins. I watched the dubbed version (as it was the only one available) with English dialog written by Jack Maeby, who also provided the English script for City on Fire. So perhaps the nuances of the plot were lost somewhere in translation. Though it could be that original screenwriter Sandy Shaw dropped the ball and made a mess of the whole thing. The person I hesitate to blame is director Johnny To. Having seen Election and several other films by To, I know his skill as a storyteller, but here I feel he had to be working with inferior material. 

That being said there was little excuse for the shoddy wire-fu which graces the film. With wire's and harnesses that might as well have been painted neon yellow, the extreme visibility of this "movie magic" consistently pulled me out of the film. While I know in 1993 wire work was not what we've seen in the last few years and has become commonplace in films, this seems inordinately shoddy. Many of the action sequences were beautifully choreographed and all three of the women knew their way around a fight scene (especially Chung who delivered some flawlessly fun fights). It's just too bad that lightning is filming issues could not have been fixed to the point where The Heroic Trio would also contain some heroic effects. 

Even with all it's flaws, I still had a good time watching the film. While it did not deliver on all levels, it did contain some visually interesting shots, some really hot ladies in superhero costumes, and a guy with a flying birdcage that will rip off your head. Plus you get babies getting nails to the head, clueless detectives who can't recognize their own wives if 1/3 of their face is covered, and and evil mastermind who looks like a cross between a jester and Marcel Marceau. Needless to say if you go in with the expectations of cheese then that's what you're going to get. So for anyone who's a Michelle Yeoh fan check this one out, but if you've seen Silver Hawk and liked it, just see that again. 

Bug Rating 

2 comments:

  1. the sneering (homo-phobic) snobMarch 15, 2009 at 7:48 AM

    interesting trivia, michelle yeoh was born on the 17th anniversary of hiroshima and 1 day after marilyn monroe snuffed it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That's interesting stuff the snob!

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...