Tomb Raiders (Review)

Tomb Raiders

aka Ba hai hong ying aka Avenging Quartet

1992
Starring
Cynthia Khan (Cynthia Luster) as Lisa
Yukari Oshima as Shoko
Moon Lee as Moon Lee
Michiko Nishiwaki as The Sister-in-law

This is called Tomb Raiders, despite the complete lack of tombs, lack of raiding, and lack of Lara Croft or Angelina Jolie. Any of those things would have helped this movie. In fact, Tomb Raiders is just a title repackage, as this was released under the name Avenging Quartet before, though that name is also misleading, as the women are not on the same side, and only two of them can be counted as avenging anything. At least they didn’t go with another Charlie’s Angels ripoff title, like many other movies some of these girls starred in.




There is a stolen ancient painting with results of secret bacterial experiments conducted on Chinese citizens during the WW2 Occupation hidden in the painting, but it has been given to China from Japan. A Japanese General hasn’t forgotten the results are there and wants them back. That is the item that will be fought over in this movie. Beginning with someone trying to sell the painting immediately. The scene is shot Blue, for night. There is a botched raid with the Chinese police. Top Chinese cop Lisa (Cynthia Khan) and her troops shoot up the crooks trying to traffic the painting, they all die except for one crook (named Hank), who shoots another criminal that was about to kill Lisa, then flees. Hank also happens to be Lisa’s former lover. One of the other dead crooks dropped a matchbook cover before he was killed. By letting the last guy get away with the painting Lisa brings dishonor to China, and is yelled at by her chief. If this were an American movie he’d be played by a loud black guy. He reluctantly lets her go on vacation because she hasn’t had one for years, which she will use as an excuse to hunt down Hank using the matchbook as a clue.

An evil girl (Michiko Nishiwaki, who’s character name is not given in this dub) is being massaged by her Triad lover. She favors Hank over her lover to get things done because Hank is competent, so we find out Hank works for her. Her husband’s funeral is also today.

Moon Lee (played by Moon Lee, they got real imaginative on the dub names!) is in a theater in Hong Kong where her seat is bumped repeatedly by a couple making out. The woman gets upset that Moon Lee is looking at them and tells her to meet her outside, out there she complains to another guy and appeals to him to beat up Moon Lee, but the guy beats up the kissing woman instead. Why? I guess because her brother is Michiko Nishiwaki’s dead husband so she must be Triad related, though you don’t find that out until later. So sorry if I just ruined the movie for you, but what are you gonna do?

Meanwhile Lisa is following up on her lead looking for Hank in Hong Kong when Pervert #1 steals the photo of her ex she brought with her to help the search, and puts it in his pants. He and his band of merry misogynists gets trounced by Lisa and Moon Lee who shows up and helps kick man-butt, Good Samaritan style. Pervert #1 runs while chased up dozens of flights of stairs (repetitive shots is a word that could be used here) before his incredibly tired self collapses on the stairs, as do the girls in pursuit. After a second wind, he gets to the roof, where the scene is shot Red, for Neon sign. The girls follow as well. The guy thinks they are working for some Loansharks, and is surprised it’s all about the photo he stole, which is accidentally blown away as he tries to give it back.

Moon figures out Lisa is in the country illegally after she tries to drive her home and she doesn’t know the way. After running a roadblock to escape police, Lisa tells Moon she is here legally, ticking Moon off briefly. Moon takes her in since she doesn’t have anywhere to live. They hang out that night playing video games, drinking, and talking. As it turns out, Moon is also in love with the ex of Lisa, and they recently broke up, though they don’t know they are ga-ga for the same person yet, as Hank’s picture has blown away.

Hank finds the hidden information in the painting and forges a fake painting instead. Good Ol’ Hank!

Suddenly we cut to a ninja fight with a woman called Shoko (Yukari Oshima), passes a fighting test and is sent to recover the painting for Japan by the evil General.

Back from that ninja diversion, Moon Lee gets into a fight with her sister-in-law when she drops in unexpectedly, interrupting her trying to sell her dead husband’s assets. Sister-in-Law tries to kill her. Unfortunately for Michiko Nishiwaki, but fortunately for Moon, the Hong Kong patrol shows up and arrests everyone. At the police HQ, a guy in handcuffs hits on Moon while other officers chase an escaped chicken. It turns out the handcuffed man is a cop named Bunker. Moon Lee complains and he gets in trouble. The guy playing Moon Lee’s lawyer looks a lot like the character actor that played the Captain of the Triad team that cheated with wrenches in Shaolin Soccer, but this print is too dirty to make a definite ID. It looks like they made the print directly from a third generation VHS dub.

Moon Lee gets put in Witness Protection (as does Lisa but I’m not sure why she is), protected by Bunker and his team, Bunker will be a love interest. Guys in masks attack the house the girls are sleeping in, and beat up all the cops and stab the girls while they sleep. Except the attackers are really the girls and they tricked the cops. Then the girls go shopping, only to be shot at by Sister-in-Laws’s thugs. The girls drive off ahead of the cops trying to escape, but the car is flipped and shot at. This also highlights the first of many scenes of cars exploding from one bullet hit to the passenger seats or tires, or from lightly being tapped, or the wind shifting. I guess Hong Kong puts their gas tanks inside the seats of the cars instead of underneath them like everyone else, and makes their gas tanks out of lit matches. I did not know that, so you see, these movies can really teach us about engineering across the globe. The Bad Dudes fail to kill them, but the thugs follow to the hospital, shooting guards, but are foiled by Bunker and he and the women jump in a cab.

The girls end up hiding out in Bunker’s apartment, while Hank is being watched and fakes his death. This fools Moon after seeing a news report, and gives Bunker an opening to try to score with Moon now that she is newly single. He takes her to the morgue to look at the body after bribing the mortician, and Moon realizes her Ex isn’t dead, as the body recovered has a steel pin in it’s leg and Hank is pin-free. Bunker scams his money back from the mortician.

Then some random character development happens, as well as them searching for clues to find the boyfriends, which they don’t know is Hank. Something involving an undercover cop who got a bad needle and got AIDS happens that doesn’t really have much to do with anything. But it fills up some film with much needed moving pictures, so the director is happy, and the distributor is happy. We the audience are less than pleased, but no one has cared about us since the 60’s.

Meanwhile , Hank tries to pawn off the fake painting to Shoko, but she recognizes it and a big gunfight/motorcycle chase ensues. Many people are shot including a line of people who just stay in a row as they get machine gunned. This is the kind of stuff the director should have been padding the film with, at least we get people being shot instead of some weird AIDS drug drama. Hank escapes from Shoko’s clutches, but is IDed by a village woman who thinks he killed all the people, so now Hank is a wanted man in Hong Kong as well as China.

Shoko and the Sister-in-Law team up to find the real painting, but first Shoko tries to beat her up in a neat fight in a gym. After visiting a small village, Moon, Bunker, and Lisa try some art galleries, but then clues point to the small town where they were earlier. Bunker tries to take credit for the discovery, but Moon just yells at him, despite Lisa trying to help him.

Bunker patches things up with Moon, and the four of them try to escape as the killers arrive and attack. There are a lot of explosions, and some forklift attacking action! A car explodes after two forklifts give it some menage a trois filling in both ends. After a shootout with goons who look like they just got off their shift busing tables at Red Lobster, Lisa and Hank are captured. Lisa is beat up when Hank won’t talk but he finally does. Then Lisa is going to be raped while Hank has to watch, he is beaten up when he resists and is bleeding, and her and him have a conversation entirely in their minds. This may or may not stop the rape, specifics like that are unimportant according to the director. After Bunker tries to call for some back up, Lisa and Hank are going to be killed as Shoko and Sister-in-Law plan their escape and painting returning/money making. Bunker and Moon arrive just in time, spoiling the villains’ plans and freeing Lisa and Hank. Fighting starts and parts of buildings are exploding randomly as gas is everywhere. It’s a major battle with everyone involved, all fighting in burning blazes. Kang from the Original Series Star Trek episode would say “Only a fool fights in a burning house” and there are plenty of fools in this cast. Bunker is shot by Sister-in-Law’s new man, but Bunker manages to impale the guy onto a debris shard in the wall killing him as well.

More fighting and more explosions later results in Lisa fighting Shoko and Sister-in-Law. Shoko is killed by burning falling planks, and Lisa is stabbed in the back by Sister-in-Law. Hank kills Sister-in-Law, and pulls the dying Lisa out of the burning building. He and Moon get in a car to escape when dozens of cops show up. Moon can’t let the cops get Hank, because if he is caught he will be deported, and then executed. So she runs the blockade, and gets out of the car to get a boat. Yes, she’s leaving the car in the middle of a pursuit, but only because of what happens next. Cops catch up, Hank gets behind the wheel, and drives around to no escape. Lisa dies, and Hank has no reason to live, so he drives for the cops, and they open fire, killing him by lead poisoning. His car flies into the sea, and so only Moon is left alive. And that’s the end. Really. It just stops there. What happens to Moon? Fine, I’ll tell you. Moon is so distraught over the death of Bunker that she becomes a Nun. At the Nunnery, an illegal Moldovan immigrant seeks refuge from the Chisinauian mobsters chasing him. Moon must defeat those mobsters and send them back to Moldova packing, to save the life of 36 blind orphans in the Nunnery. And then Godzilla attacks.

Rated 3/10 (explosion/Shoko/Triad tattoo)


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Written by Tars Tarkas

Tars Tarkas

Runs this joint!