AKA: Deadly China Dolls
Director: Godfrey Ho
Stars: Sibelle Hu, Yoko Miyamoto, Maria Jo, Lawrence Ng, Ken Lo, Lam Chung, Alex Fong
Godfrey Ho is best known for making movies by editing together scenes from various sources. Lethal Panther is one of the few movies Ho worked on that is comprised of original footage. Well, maybe "original" isn't the most appropriate word here. Perhaps a better title for this movie would be The Killer Returns to a Better Tomorrow or something like that because this movie is so derivative of John Woo's work it's almost silly. There are action sequences swiped from the A Better Tomorrow films and The Killer. One character dresses like Chow Yun-Fat in ABT (right down to the Ray-Bans) and plays a harmonica like CYF in The Killer. Some of the music is even taken from ABT.
The plot also sounds like something out of a John Woo movie. Lawrence Ng plays a counterfeiter who hires an assassin (Yoko Miyamoto) to kill his uncle (Lam Chung) so he can take over the family business, and then hires another killer (Maria Jo) to kill Yoko. After a lot of double-crosses and backstabbing, Maria and Yoko team up to take on Ng, who by this time has hired Yoko's brother (the aforementioned CYF rip-off) to kill them both. Somewhere in this mess, Sibelle Hu plays a FBI agent on the trail of both killers.
The plot is a mess (drifting between really stupid and really hard to follow), most of the acting is bad, and despite some minorly noble attempts, Lethal Panther can't hide its' cheap, derivative, shot-in-the-Philipines B-movie lineage. Still, it does a decent job at what it sets out to do, namely deliver lots of action along with a large dose of sex. It's one of the better films Tai Seng has put out recently in their budget line and it's worth a look if you like "girls with guns" movies.
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