As a big fan of Naked Killer and similar fare, I was initially thrilled when it was announced that they would be remaking it, and that Wong Jing would be involved. Then it was announced it would instead be a “Naked Killer“-type movie, and I began to get a little worried. This formula is hard to do wrong, though, and Jing has been doing it for decades. OR so I thought. Instead, what could have easily been a great movie instead became a shining example of everything WRONG with Hong Kong cinema these days and explains why they are being surpassed by Korea and other places. Some of the many many problems will be addressed when they come up and others at the end.
Opens in Rome with babe Fiona Birch (played by Marit Thoresen –>incredibly hot!) heading to meet a gangster-type while being watched by CIA agents, as well as being directed by a mysterious woman. The agents comment on her being kidnapped at age 12 and “Madam M likes to start them young,” thus giving us the name of the mysterious woman. Daniel Wu joins the agents, he is rookie Jack Chen. Fiona proceeds to bed the mobster in what is the only decent sex scene in the film, and Daniel is sent to get a sandwich. Fiona then kills the mobster via spine-snapping and heads out, but must pass a gauntlet shootout to escape. Unfortunately for her, her car is not rocket launcher proof, and she gets toasted. The CIA agents run to join in and one gets shot by the rocket goon, and the other is shot in the back by Madam M, who also shoots Fiona, killing her. Daniel shows up, shoots the rocket goon and watches and Madam M drives off. Why doesn’t Madam M shoot him as well? Questions like that plague this movie like locusts in Ancient Egypt.
After the opening credits which feature a little girl beating up a grown man in an illegal boxing ring, Madam M shows up and invites her to a place where the best fighters are trained. Then Danila Wu is back at his office commenting on 40 girls being kidnapped.
The kidnapped girls are with Madam M on an island being trained. There is no escape and tweenage girls are shot both right away and during an escape attempt. The fighting girl from the opening credits is Katherine, and she befriends Charlene, another girl. There they are trained for six years to be master assassins. After that time, Charlene has grown up into Maggie Q (not bad) and Katherine has matured into Anya (not bad, either!) A third random girl has grown up into Jewel Lee, her name is Jing, and she is a killing machine. The last girl of note is Monica Lo, who plays a girl who tries to become Jing’s lackey. Assassin training includes anatomy, computer work, and learning how to walk on a catwalk (important for any killer to know.)
After some dialog so badly written it grates on you worse than fingernails on chalkboards, Charlene expresses hesitation in killing, but it is time for the first major test. A group of soldier goons are dropped off onto the island, and the girls must kill them before they are killed. Jing excels at this, and Katherine also gets in her kill. Charlene is also forced to kill, by stabbing the guy in his head via one of his sunglasses holder. Complete action cliché junk, and it’s not helped that the goons all look like Poor Man’s Jean-Claude Van Dammes, or even Poor Man’s Daniel Bernhardts. Later Charlene and Katherine are in the shower together (yet we are denied what we all want to see!) as Charlene is disturbed. Later than night, Madam M walks in, and orders the ridls to kill another girl and bring her body outside, or get shot. Confused at first, the girls turn on each other. Jing even kills two girls, talk about enthusiasm! The survivors are told outside that only one of them will live after tomorrow.
There’s gonna be a cage match as girl #1 faces Girl #2, then Girls 3 and 4, then girls 5, 6, and 7, and finally girls 8, 9, 10, and 11. There will be only one winner. Katherine draws number one, but Charlene steals it from her and goes to fight the girls. She quickly dispatches girl #2 and then girls 3 and 4. The fight scenes are pretty well choreographed and slick, I will grant this movie that. Next Charlene is up against three girls, which is much more difficult and takes most of Charlene’s strength. Katherine is in the last group and rushes to her side, while Jing, Monica Lo, and random blonde girl are the other side. Monica Lo suggests that if her and Jing team up they’ll be invincible. Jing kills her and says “I AM invincible.” Then she starts in on Katherine, while the Blonde Girl goes after exhausted Charlene. It takes all of Charlene’s remaining strength to win, and then she collapses. Katherine and Jing have a nicely choreographed fight which is pretty impressive and in my opinion the best action sequence in the film, but Jing barely gets the upper hand, and is choking Katherine when Charlene jumps up to stop her, but Charlene is too weak from the previous fighting, and Jing is ready to kill them both when Madam M stops the fight. She decides to keep all three of the girls instead.
Now at this time we will diverge from discussing the movie as we have to talk about this plotline. Apparently, you can afford to be out of the assassination business long enough to have your own remote island, feed 40 girls for 6 years, as well as drill instructors, new computer equipment and makeup, afford to hire goons for random attacks, well maintained helicopter, all of this for training ONE assassin. This defies belief to the point where heads explode at such velocity that brain matter is hurled into space. At the very least, the last test should have been the kill one other girl and meet me outside, or a one round fight where you only lose half. That is the only way I can see to justify such a huge cost overhead. Of course, it’s just a movie (not a very good one).
Back to the “story” the girls are all cleaned up and having dinner with Madam M, only to be drugged by her and gang-raped by more action movie rejects. Including the first appearance of a black person in this film, as a rapist thug. Oh, Hong Kong! The rapers are having a jolly ole time giving each other high fives and licking girl’s ears. Madam M sits at the table the girls are being raped on calmly sipping wine. Later she tells the girls they must do whatever vile thing men want because that is when they are at their weakest. The movie went too disturbing at that point to be enjoyable, even if it had been enjoyable before that point, which it was only vaguely. but the movie still has a lot of time to fill, and we get a montage of the girls killing people by various ways which looks slicks, despite Charlene using a sunglasses lens to off some people (WHAT is with this director and murderous sunglasses?) The last sequence is a trap action sequence where Charlene is saved several times by Katherine.
The CIA has taken note of gangsters and rich people being killed by hot babes and started a case file called “China Dolls.” Guess who is heading it. Yes, Jackie Chan! I’m kidding, of course our good friend Daniel Wu is back. He visits Charlene’s mom after DNA evidence points to Charlene being one of the killers. Charlene’s mom hasn’t seen her daughter since she was kidnapped years ago but doesn’t want to help Daniel Wu because he wants to arrest her. You’d think she’d want to help to get her daughter out of the assassin gang but whatever. At a dragon boat race a few days later Charlene kills a guy right in front of her mom, who she sees and is in shock. Daniel is there as well, and chases her into an ice cream truck. Once again, no one bothers to kill Daniel and he ends up holding Charlene at gunpoint. Then dialog that Satan himself could not make any more unholy is traded off between the leads. Wong Jing must have been getting his love dialog directly from George Lucas. Charlene eventually knocks him down and runs off, much like many of us who are watching this film want to do to it.
Daniel then starts watching Charlene’s mother’s house, and Jing arrives to kill her. Daniel tries to stop her but is no match, and Charlene’s mom is hurt, but then Charlene shows up and has a battle to the death with Jing, involving a lot of throwing debris back and forth at each other. The last is a bunch of broken glass knocked back at Jing which slams into her face, then Charlene dispatches her shortly thereafter. Charlene and Daniel take her mom to the hospital and give more sappy dialog. Charlene wants out of her assassination gig, and Madam M agrees after she does one more job.
Said job is for Japanese businessman Ryuichi, played by Andrew Lin as the very hammy bad acted villain who is so over the top Sylvester Stallone could not defeat him in arm wrestling. Ryuichi is wants a special job, but it is all a trap and Madam M is hanging on a meat hook when Charlene and Katherine arrive. Charlene is hit with an aphrodisiac dart but manages to get out while Katherine is trapped with the madman. Unable to help her friend, she calls Daniel. He meets her on the beach, and after more disturbing dialog, they have aphrodisiac drug induced sex on the beach. Thanks, Hong Kong! When Daniel wakes up the next morning all he finds is a note saying Charlene is going to try to rescue her friend now that she’s not all drugged up.
Ryuichi is waiting for her, with Katherine tied up like a puppet in the window. Ryuichi mocks Charlene’s pain then beheads Katherine after Charlene has said goodbye. Then Ryuichi wants to fight using more primitive weapons, their fists. So the final battle has begun, it’s action pack and lifts whole passages from The Matrix. Charlene ends up standing on one foot on Ryuichi’s head at on point, then leaps off, hangs in midair, then flips all the way around before heading downward, where she changes direction again to hit Ryuichi in the chest. All of this happens while the camera does 360 degree rotations like the camera man set up on a lazy Susan or something. Charlene gets so beaten up she is blind from swollen eyes, but she uses some weird “visualize water” technique to try to see the guy’s attacks. It works well enough for her to grab him, yank him into the air, and snap his spine mid-flight. Then she collapses.
Follow up is Daniel Wu and Charlene’s mom talking, and he makes a wish via religious things, and we see Charlene has also been there praying as well. Then it’s hinted that Charlene is watching Daniel and they will meet again someday. In the sequel. Which better not happen.
Faults with this movie? It’s a gigantic style over substance mess, and even then the only good styles are some of the action sequences. The girls are pretty, but from the exploitive genre, they missed the mark in several key areas. There was a total lack of lesbianism in this movie which was very surprising considering the one it’s loosely based on. And with all the women trapped on the island for years and showering together, there were perfect spots to introduce it, but nothing. The main plot points were distracting enough they took you out of the movie, which is another sign of badness. As this movie was hyped up when it was being made, you expect it to be above par for girls with guns type movies, and when it turns out to be way below average that makes it even worse. It was also done in English, which was an odd choice but showed they were trying to market it worldwide, too bad they didn’t put the effort they used in marketing the movie into script development, or at least renting Naked Killer as a reminder of how it was done. Wong Jing has been down this road many times before; there is no excuse for this.
Rated 2/10 (Rocket Attack, Guard Tower)