Island Warriors (Review)
aka Yang yang jun
Directed by Ulysses Au Yeung-Jun
An ancient kingdom of women fight for survival in the brutal sea, facing a rival male tribe as well as marauding pirates. Along the way they learn to love men and not be Amazons, but until then we have plenty of scenes of women fighting guys, which is the kind of thing I enjoy on my TV screen. There are things I don’t enjoy, namely castration, but as the film seems to think you have no ill effects besides turning gay it is less difficult to watch than films with blood spewing everywhere. Island Warriors is a Taiwanese production, most noticeable with the cast names in the beginning, and a few Taiwanese actors who pop up.
Most of the names are just guesses, thanks to the ambiguous credits and terrible sound quality from the VHS tape (Restored DVD for Island Warriors? Why bother when Into the Blue 2 and Bratz Babyz are taking their place on the shelves! EDIT – I guess now there is one!) The worst part of explaining movies like this with 18 or so main characters is setting up who is who. No matter how organized the beginning section is, half of the time I get confused and I’m the one who writes the review! The confusion is doubled when the credits fail to say who the actors play, and character names become guesses or nicknames given due to them never being named on camera. Oddly enough, it is also one of the best parts of explaining these films, as even if I am completely wrong it is the movie’s fault and not mine. Taiwanese films around this time are one of the worst offenders on having dozens of semi-famous people popping up in the film that I feel obligated to recognize, and mixed up with several different ways of translating Chinese names so you will see a familiar actor running around with a completely different name. So the Roll Call will be long, confusing, but the best we can get with what information we have. If you see something that looks like an error, or know more information, feel free to shoot me an email or drop by the message board. I had help through *Kung Fu Films* and the HKMDB
A narrator informs us that in ancient China, a king isolated his queen to a small island. The island became a land of Amazons (complete with a giant female statue) and after 23 generations their hatred of men became law of the land. The giant statue is a statue of their founding queen, and is she naked for added effect. These Amazons dress like they are Greek goddesses, wearing white sheets for the most part. A big festival is happening, but after seeing the Wicker Man remake, I get wary when large festivals composed of exclusively women are happening on camera. Sadly, no one is punched by Nicholas Cage in a bear suit. They just perform random gymnastic feats, dance around, and one hangs by her hair to show her strength. This all happens to some cheesy Chinese pop song during the opening credits. The current Queen and her consort arrive, you know they are the main characters because every one gets a face zoom, and every one is wearing an outfit that differs from the extras and their plain white sheets. They may have eliminated the men, but they still have classism.
Queen Nadenwa addresses her subjects, telling them it is the bicentennial of their country. If we do the math of 23 generations for 200 years, that averages a new generation every 9 years! Girls these days grow up so quickly. The Queen also says “and remember – all men are dangerous!”
INVASION! Pirates are attacking the island, and the Goddess Statue has cannons in its eyes that fire at the boats offshore. Pirates swim ashore, and the crowd of women attack the pirates, as there are a bunch of soldier women mixed in. The pirates are trying to grab women, but their method of blundering into the middle of a giant party sorts of blows their cover. Three female fighters are featured: an Amazon with ballet shoes who orders some of the other troops, she has a wedding dress-looking top and is named Chen Chi; an Amazon with a whip and black costume named Fanny; and an Amazon who just starts killing men left and right, named Princess Pan. The pirates are driven off, but the women manage to capture 13 of them, including a gigantic pirate guy. Princess Pan is adept at kicking the men very far, and is ordered to start training more fighters. In addition, the cannon did not perform up to task, and the women will try to build a better one, but they aren’t sure how as they are women.
We suddenly jump into a strange sight: three men have come on the island to look for a treasure. These guys are Ping Da Hi (who is supplying the map), Ha Li (who will be later called Dr. Ha), and Chan Ping. Ha Li is quickly caught in a snare while Ping falls in a pit, and the men are captured by the women. CASTRATION TIME! Except it is not these guys, it looks like one of the pirates is getting the Bobbitt treatment. The three new captives are instead thrown into chastity belts and sent before the Queen. They try lying to her at first about being stranded, but their boat has been already found. Ping admits they are there to find treasure, but insists they have no interest in the women. Queen Nadenwa orders castrations for all! As they are being dragged away, Ping mentions they have a cannon maker with them. They are halted, and Ping says Chan Ping is an expert cannon maker, while also passing Ha Li off as Dr. Ha. Both of these jobs are news to the supposed professionals, but they quickly realize they better play the part before they lose their parts. As Ping says he had 36 daughters, the trio will also be used for breeding (which seems to have been Ping’s goal since he was captured.)
A man from the Men’s Island demands to see the Queen. He has brought a dead man with him, it is Lao, who was castrated after becoming in love with an Amazon girl. The man, Lu Tin Yi, demands that the Amazons change their way. Yeah, that will work. Queen Nadenwa throws him in a cage with a snake half-submerged in the ocean. But as he is imprisoned, the Queen’s sister Princess Jung Chi tells Lu Tin Yi that she will convince the Queen to let him go.
Meanwhile, at Men’s Island, the narrator returns to tell us that there is no good soil for farming, and that the men are all castaways abandoned by the Amazons. But enough of that, we go back to the Amazon island for some forced comic relief! Dr. Ha must cure the sick bodyguard of the Queen, but he cannot look at the patient, who will be behind a screen. He feels, thinks that she’s awfully hairy, then find out that she is a tiger as she bites his hand! Hahahaha and stuff. But he impresses the guards as now General the Tiger is moving around, which she wasn’t doing because she was sick. So Dr. Ha bumbles his way to success, look out Dr. House!
Lu Tin Yi is still trapped in the cage, and the tide is coming in. Luckily for him, Princess Jung Chi tells him how to get out of the cage, and where to swim where she will bring him food. They sneak over to the docks, where Lu Tin Yi kisses her thanks. They end up rolling around in the water, until the alarm is sounded and they get caught by Yen Chi! Maybe they should have been escaping while they were escaping. Yen Chi then remembers that she had a lover who was caught, and wants to know if Lu Tin Yi really loves Princess Jung Chi. He says she is kind and pretty, and he’ll gladly go back to prison to keep her out of trouble. Yen Chi then lets them go, helping them hide from some more guards that come up. They are Chen Chi and Su Chi, the lesbian lovers, and Yen Chi quickly gets into a fight with Chen Chi as she was the woman who turned in her male lover. Be noted that during this fight sequence Yen Chi is wearing a strapless gold top that she has to keep adjusting to stay on. The fight goes on for a while, then ends with Yen Chi sobbing and Chen Chi comforting her. There is emotional impact going on, so start feeling emotions.
Princess Jung Chi hides Lu Tin Yi in her room, and even lies to her sister the Queen when she inquires if she helped him escape. Meanwhile, some men sneak onto Women’s Island. This island gets invaded more often than Earth in Giant Monster movies! The chief of Man Island Wan Tin Yu sneaks into the Queen’s room with a knife, wants to know about Lu Tin Yi and wants her to stop killing the baby boys. She refuses, and soon the two are fighting, while the Chief keeps saying they should live together. She pulls her alarm, but as he flees she doesn’t send her guards after him.
The prisoners each get 2 eggs and 1 banana each, as it is the full moon and time to propagate. Just think about what shape you can make with the eggs and banana. One of the prisoners is a man named Cheetah who cries because he had 13 boys, and thus was castrated. Ping Da Hi is upset he doesn’t get one of the lesbians, but soon freaks out when he gets two other women instead to have sex with. One quickly pounces and bites him. considering he was all gung ho about having sex with all these chicks, Ping Da Hi soon becomes a gigantic baby and screaming for mercy. This sequence was interestingly paralleled on the Futurama episode Amazon Women in the Mood, but I doubt it was directly taken from here, as they aren’t having sex (snu-snu) to the death and this is a common theme in Amazon movies. Cannon guy Chan Ping refuses to have sex and is slapped around a bit. Dr. Ha won’t be having sex with women, as he has to deliver a baby (another thing he doesn’t know how to do.) He panics in front of the pregnant woman, only to fall on her stomach causing the baby to be born. I don’t think it works that way.
It’s the day after the full moon, so time to set the male babies out to sea! Yes, the male babies are each put into baskets and set out to sea, like many little Moseses except they aren’t going down a river but into the deep sea, and will all die except one, which the men manage to rescue (the men were lying lurking in the ocean trying to grab as many as they could.) This whole sequence is pretty surreal, in how many movies do you see massive baby murder?
The Queen is upset that the women aren’t following the rules, I guess the massive amount of men on the island sneaking around is leading to a few extra babies sent out to sea. She then catches Lu Tin Yi in Princess Jung Chi’s room, and Jung Chi stabs herself in the stomach begging that Lu Tin Yi be let go. The Queen relents, and lets him escape. Now the Queen isn’t even following her own rules. Is society breaking down, and soon Y chromosomes will flood the island? Stay tuned, gentle reader…
Cannon Guy Chan Ping doesn’t know about cannons, but his fellow prisoner the Big Pirate Guy does, and he’ll teach him in exchange for the treasure map. They agree and soon Chan Ping is telling the women the cannon will be done in just a few more days. I was unaware it was this easy to make a cannon, that you could pull it off after lessons from a big guy in a prison, but okay. Sure.
And now for some of the reasons this film was made, Su Chi and Chen Chi are in a bubble bath together, scrubbing and soon kissing each other clean! Mr. Bubble would be proud. Don’t get too excited, as we don’t get to see any of the naughty bits. Chen Chi leaves, and for some reason we can probably chalk up to uninspired comedy relief Ping Da Hi is wandering around. Soon he is sneaking a peek at Su Chi, and then he goes into the room, showing her the diagram for the new cannon design. He snatches the keys to the chastity belt he is wearing while she is distracted (don’t ask why the keys are just lying around the bathing room) and soon is chastity belt free, and slips into the water as well. Chen Chi returns right then to see him in the water, and she is ticked. Royally ticked. Snip-snip time ticked. Yes, castration time for Ping Da Hi! He’s losing his marbles, and not in the going crazy sense. Upon return to the cell, Ping Da Hi is not bleeding, sick, or injured at all, but is super-effeminate (aka flaming gay!) At this point I’m giving up explaining all the things that are crazy wrong, which is probably a good idea as something even crazier will be happening soon. Until now, enjoy this comedy substitute, which was hand crafted to resemble comedy to a reasonable measure, but satisfaction is not guaranteed.
Pirates! Not of the Caribbean, but of wherever this is in China. The same pirates from before, but this time it is the whole gang. The alarms are sounded and the women fight, so we finally get some action. During the battle, Ping Da Hi sneaks off to the waterfall behind the throne to try to take the treasure, his two friends follow, and all three are caught. Ping Da Hi takes the blame, tells the women they are evil, empty, and made him the walking dead (he is referring to his castration in that last bit, which is surprisingly a term biologists unofficially use for creatures that are unable to reproduce. Yen Chi says the cannon was damaged, and the Queen will spare their lives if they make a new cannon.
Cannon Guy Chan Ping is injured during the testing of the new cannon and is taken to the Princess’s Palace, where Princess Pan Hueng Chi lives. She is the Kung Fu warrior woman, if you recall. She will be using her kung fu to save Chan Ping’s life. Said kung fu also causes all her clothes to explode off, giving us some much needed nudity and making this some of the best kung fu ever. She collapses from the effort of concentrating to save him, and he soon awakes, and kisses her. At first, she resists, but then soon they are humping like monkeys on Spanish fly. Monkeys on Viagra on Valentine’s Day. Sex monkeys who sex sex with the sex sex sex. The sex causes explosions all over the island, which means it’s almost as good as the sex I have. Soon the Queen and her crew burst into the castle to investigate, and Princess Pan Hueng Chi freaks out, screams at them not to go near her, and then suddenly turns old. Very old. It is explained she was over 100 years old and practiced Virgin Kung Fu, but now her power is gone. Who knew hymens were that powerful? She prevents the Queen from killing Chan Ping, but then kills herself (saying she had no regrets.) We have a funeral service at the beach. This film is pretty bipolar, parts of it are supposed to be funny, parts are action packed, and parts are weird tragedies. It is a grab bag of emotions.
We reach into the bag to pull out the next scene: Action! The pirates have returned, and they blast the beaches with their cannons while the funeral goes on. The men from the Men Island have also arrived on the island, and are by the statue. They demand an end to the baby killing and to live on the island. The Queen accuses them of being allied with the Pirates, but they deny it. They hate Johnny Depp and aren’t even fans of the Pittsburg Pirates. The Queen is too angry and attacks the men, causing the women to fight a two-sided battle. This causes problems, and soon the Pirates blast the statue. The Queen is in danger, and soon the women and men put aside their differences to combine against the pirates. The two lesbians fight a huge dude, Yen Chi injured. The Queen’s sister Princess Jung Chi is about to be killed but is saved by Lu Tin Yi. The Leader of the Men tells his troops that “Good men don’t fight women, Get the Pirates!” Inside the fortress, Big One finds the trunk with the treasure, pulls it out, and it is connected to a chain that yanks on some gasoline and fortress explodes! Killing everyone in it and every pirate as well. The male chief gives the Queen her crown, and it is decided the men will stay and they will rebuild the island together.
So what happened to the three treasure guys? I guess we will never know. I would like to see this film one day in restored DVD widescreen instead of washed out fullscreen vhs, but I doubt that will ever happen. One can dream. The film was pretty entertaining, a FEW of the comedy bits were good, and it delivered on most of the goods you need for an Amazon flick. I liked it and would recommend it to others. Even you. Yes, you. In your pajamas reading this review. But not you, Chad. You know what you did and why I will never recommend anything to you again. But for everyone who isn’t Chad, watch this film if you think it looks good, because it is. It is an interesting piece, and not just because many of the cast members here show up in other films I am going to review soon. There will be several Taiwanese films showing up as soon as I get around to sorting out the cast lists.
Rated 8/10 (Pyramid, Snake Attack, Oh no!, Making babies, floating babies away, cannon time, funeral time, Statue-riffic!)
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