Director: Clarence Fok
Stars: Julian Cheung, Hsu Chi, Kelly Lam, Teresa Mak, Sophie Ngan, Sandra Ng, Terence Yin, Wong Jing
Hsu Chi, best known for her baby-doll sex-kitten roles in Cat III films, seems to be trying to reinvent herself lately, with family-friendly fare such as Jackie Chan's Gorgeous and action movies such as this one. While it was fairly easy to take Hsu as the naive dreamer Bu in Gorgeous, it's pretty hard to see her rail-thin figure, squeaky voice and young looks translating into a master thief/fighter. But that's part of the beauty of movies, I guess. With the help of plenty of stunt doubles and some computer work, Hsu actually looks decent in the action scenes. Don't get me wrong -- she's nowhere close to the level of vintage girls-with-guns stars like Yukari Oshima and Moon Lee -- but if you compare her work with similar stuff done over the past few years (on both sides of the ocean), it's some nice eye candy.
The action in Martial Angels actually has some punch, unlike a lot of the squeaky-clean movies (read: too much CGI) coming out nowadays. It helps matters out a lot that the plot is refreshingly simple compared to a slate of overconvoluted films that have come out recently. Hsu Chi is a member of the "7 Angels," a team of female thieves. She makes the mistake of falling in love with a competing thief (Julian Cheng). Their relationship, of course, ends in disaster and Hsu becomes so distraught that she quits the "business" altogether, only to be pulled back into it as a Russian terrorist kidnaps Julian and demands that Hsu steal a top-secret computer program to get him back.
Of course, this being a Clarence Fok/Wong Jing joint, there's a bit of sex thrown into the movie as well, mostly through the form of Terence Yin who plays a sleazy bomb expert the Angels must hire -- he demands sexual favors rather than money for payment -- and a pretty funny bit involving Sandra Ng trying to seduce Hsu's boss Wong Jing. It's nothing overly smutty, though. Wong Jing, perpetually the dirty old man both on screen and off and the director/producer that defined Hong Kong sexploitation in the 1990's with his onslaught of Cat III sex romps, seems to be mellowing out a bit, and that might highlight Martial Angels' main problem. It looks nice and there's a good amount of action, but it lacks that certain something -- that wanton recklessness and williness to go over the edge -- that made many earlier films in this genre (junky as they were) so enjoyable to watch. Martial Angels does a good job of what it sets out to do -- showing pretty women kicking ass. I just felt like there should have been more to it.
A review of the VCD for this movie can be found here
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