Her Name is Cat
Director: Clarence Fok
Writer: Wong Jing
Producer: Wong Jing
Stars: Michael Wong, Almen Wong
A beautiful refugee from the Mainland called Ying (A. Wong) comes to Hong Kong, where she quickly acquires work as a assassin. Her stealth and viciousness (not to mention her love of leopard print outfits) soon garner her the nickname of "Cat." As you might expect, Cat's specialty (which is killing Triad bosses in graphically brutal ways involving duct tape, whips. chains, hypodermic needles and the like) soon attracts the police, led by the hard-ass gweilo John Cannon (M. Wong). In a "plot twist" you could see (at least I hope you could -- if you thought Titanic had a major plot twist, then you might be surprised) a mile away, the killer and the cop realize that they're, goshdarn it, actually pretty similar and a romance develops. Of course, neither the cops nor the Triads will have any part of it and the two must try to survive while keeping their romance alive.
Looking at first glance, Her Name is Cat is typical HK exploitative fare, with oodles of cheesy sex and violence. Casual viewers may become put off by such scenes as when Cat's Chinese boyfriend responds to the news that she is pregnant by punching Cat in the gut enough times to produce a miscarriage or by the now cliched street shootout (replete with John Woo-style slow motion) featured in the first few minutes. But, actually, I would say that Her Name is Cat boils down to a female version of Woo's classic The Killer. In fact, Her Name is Cat borrows/steals several sequences from that movie, such as a "Mexican standoff" and heaps of religious symbolism. This should really come as no surprise since the movie was written and produced by Wong Jing, who seems to have a devilish talent for taking "inspiration" from other film-makers, and then crafting his own take on them. (To defend Wong Jing a bit, most film-makers do this to some extent -- The Killer itself is based heavily on a French film called Le Samourai; at least Wong Jing admits it freely.)
At any rate, Her Name is Cat is well a well-made movie. It may be derivative, but it still seems fresh and interesting, mostly due to very inventive cinematography and a solid script. Going back to Wong Jing's "devilish talent" I mentioned before, Her Name is Cat knows how to steal just enough from many previous films (those viewers who know John Woo, Ringo Lam, etc's. crime films will be able to pick off many specific shots) but adds in enough to make it worth watching. The characters are suprisingly well-rounded given the limitations of the plot and genre. Even though both leads don't have much to work with, they are watchable. High praise indeed for the actor (M. Wong) that almost ruined Gordon Chan's brilliant Beast Cops and stunk up the US version of John Woo's Once a Thief.
Oh yeah, it should probably be noted that Almen Wong is probably one of the hottest women I've seen in HK cinema. Wong Jing always seems to have a knack for picking out beautiful female stars for his movies, and he lives up to his reputation here. I'm sure that last statement makes me look like a chauvinist pig, but dammit, seeing gorgeous women kicking major ass is one of the reason I got into HK films in the first place. But you should know that (despite the very shall we say "picturesque" poster art shown above) there is no nudity or "overt" (read: no "bump and grind") sexuality in Her Name is Cat, so those looking for a cheap thrill in the form of gratuitous nudity/sex should look elsewhere. Even though there are several very sexually charged (and quite stimulating) scenes -- some involving S&M elements -- at its base Her Name is Cat is a solid action/romance movie.
If you're picking up the newly released US video version, you can expect a horrible dubbing job (is it just me, or does it seem like the same five people do all the ADR for HK movies coming out here?), but plenty of gunfights and sexy outfits.
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