Coweb (Review)


aka Zhang wu shuang

Directed by Xiong Xin Xin

Coweb is part of several films that showed up around the same time involving a lone female fighter beating the tar out of lots and lots of people. Others include Chocolate, High-Kick Girl, and Fighter. So of course TarsTarkas.NET was paying attention, because we are all about girl power. Or at least

Jiang Luxia is the Chinese Nation-wide Wushu Champion in Shaolin quan. She has a host of other sports accolade and is the Chief Trainer on the Practical Ladies Self-Defense program on Jiange Luxia is also an expert in Martial Arts Repertoire, Practical Self-Defense, Qiqong, Taijiquan and Crossbow techniques. First showed up on the scene after she started posting online shorts of herself doing wushu moves in 2007 under the name Mao Er Bao Bei (translates as “Cat-Eared Baby.”) I think this is the link to her video blogs, but to get to the older videos you have to go a few pages back because there are a lot of Coweb shorts before that. She was also on a show hosted by Jackie Chan to find new kung fu stars. What is weird is her videos show her being full of energy and smiling and having a positive attitude, but Coweb keeps her in a somber tone the entire film. Completely drains her personality. That is one of several mistakes that hurt Coweb, however, Jiang Luxia is beyond awesome and will be a big star (assuming she doesn’t get horribly injured.)

Coweb was rumored to have a cameo by Edison Chen (fresh of his sex photo scandal) but the mainland DVD version I watched did not have Edison Chen in it at all. I was disappointed because I wanted to see him get beat up, but maybe Mainland China cut him out and he will still show up if this ever gets released in Hong Kong. As mentioned, the only way this film has been released outside of a few festivals is on a Mainland China DVD, dubbed in Mandarin with no subs. That’s not entirely accurate, there are Chinese subtitles, which were ran through an auto-translator thanks to the magic of the internet. Thus, incredibly confusing English subtitles played while I watched this, but I just ignored them (I left them on some of the screencaps for humor’s sake)

Coweb is the directorial debut of Xiong Xin Xin (aka Hung Yan-Yan), who is an action choreographer and stunt double, who also became an actor just to show off his wushu acrobatic moves.

Nie Yi Yi (Jiang Luxia) – Nie Yi Yi is a wushu instructor and mall security guard getting over the death of her father, who becomes a bodyguard for a private businessman’s wife, which then leads to a kidnapping trouble. Nie Yi Yi then beats up everyone everywhere, because they all deserve it. Nie Yi Yi translates as Clinging according to the terrible subs.
Chung Tin (Sam Lee Chan-Sam) – Nie Yi Yi’s childhood friend who recruits her to be a bodyguard. There is more to Chung than meets the eye, but he is not a robot. Sam Lee is one of the “Gen-X” HK actors, most of which were actually in the HK movie Gen-X Cops.
Ho Kwun (Eddie Cheung Siu-Fai) – Ho Kwun is a debonair tycoon who hires Yi Yi to watch over his wife, then is kidnapped along with the wife and becomes the object of rescue.
Susan (Peggy Tseng Pei-Yu) – Susan is the wife of Ho Kwun and is the woman Yi Yi was hired to protect. Yi Yi does such a good job Susan is kidnapped almost immediately. Nobody knows anything about Peggy Tseng Pei-Yu.
Song Li Shan (Kane Kosugi) – The final opponent of Yi Yi and the business partner of Ho Kwun who is originally blamed for the kidnappings. Kane Kosugi is probably the most famous in th US for going all Return of the Jedi in Godzilla: Final Wars and is the son of Sho Kosugi. He was previously on TarsTarkas.NET in DOA: Dead or Alive.

Nie Yi Yi works in a wushu studio, and her handicapped father is killed by a falling support structure while she is on the phone with him. It looks suspicious and you think it will work into the film later on, but it doesn’t.

We get some stylized flash credits about fighting.

Six months later. Nie Yi Yi has a second job as a security guard at mall in addition to her wushu coaching job. You mean this could have been a Paul Blart sequel? She is somber and sad, as she will be the entire film. Her old friend Chung Tin shows up, he is wearing a suit because he has some money. He says she can get a job as a bodyguard where he works and make more money. She reluctantly agrees to go.

The job is for the wife of tycoon Ho Kwun, Susan. She has the candidates pair off and fight. Nie Yi Yi wins by just dodging her opponent until he tires, then when the other winners fight she beat the frak out of them. So she is hired. Yi Yi meets husband Ho Kwun, and then follows Susan around (and gets some new clothes) all while learning how to be a good bodyguard. At a charity function there is a weird staring guy who will come into play soon, he is Song Li Shan. Things seem to be going okay, but what a boring bodyguard movie it would be if the charge wasn’t kidnapped at some point…

At a restaurant where Ho Kwun is meeting with a twitchy-faced guy, Susan is grabbed by a whole host of goons. Yi Yi fights them, she beats several, but there are a TON of guys so even one tiny girl can’t beat them all. Especially when a huge white guy shows up. Huge white guys are weak when covered in table clothes, but they will burst through kitchen walls when in pursuit of you. Thus it is huge white guy vs. Yi Yi in a kitchen (where there are no cooks at all!) The fight in the kitchen goes on for an awfully long time, but it is entertaining and there are some brutal hits. Eventually, a wet towel and a giant pot are the huge white guy’s undoing and Yi Yi can chase after her charge again. But by then they are long gone, as is the husband. All Yi Yi finds is a cell phone and a key.

Yi Yi returns to apartment to find it ransacked. Chung shows up and Yi Yi tells him how the boss and wife are kidnapped. They check out the cell phone they found (instead of calling the cops) and they get at text message that says to go to a disco. Not a 1970s disco, but a disco rave nightclub.

Yi Yi is brought to a room to wait while Chung is sent to dance, and by dance we mean wander around the disco/techno/rave thing looking like a fish out of water. Now it is time for the main event, a girl jumping into some water followed by what is said to be her fighting opponent, Yi Yi, who falls from the ceiling thanks to a trap door. so the two girls fight and fight and fight (the opponent is a kicking specialist) while Chung goes to talk to the manager and ends up getting a bunch of guys trying to beat him up. People just hate Chung, probably because he is played by Sam Lee. Yi Yi wins and they escape the club and head to Chung’s apartment.

The new plan is to walk all over town looking for the lock for the key they found. Who needs cops? Yi Yi beats up a guy who is friends with Chung, he turned out to be a former bad guy that Chung befriended to try to rehabilitate. This is the first indication not everything is up and up with Chung.

They get a new text message to go to a warehouse. So Yi Yi and Chung goes, and Yi Yi sneaks around jumping up fences and on roofs and other neat stuff while Chung is all bumbling around. Yi Yi sees what she thinks is Susan tied up, but it turns out to be a huge dude wearing a wig. Yes, another big battle. The entire battle is being watched on cctv by Song, who is drinking milk. It does a body good. Pass it on.

Yi Yi and wig guy fight for a while then the wig dude is knocked down a hole, but he is too injured to talk and Yi Yi has to escape with Chung on a scooter as some other goons are coming in. They are also being followed by guys in a van who are filming them. They beat up the guys, but still won’t go to cops because probably more guys filming. That makes sense. Not.

Back at the apartment, the businessman boss Ho Kwun shows up beaten but alive. He had escaped, and shows them the whole thing is a website with live fights that people all over the world bet on. He also says Song is his business partner on the website, but Song lost a lot of money gambling and wants to rob the company, which has $50 million in a safety deposit box that the key is the key for. Now, Song is using the fights Yi Yi is involved in to make money off people betting.

Right then a bunch of goons arrive and start a fight, which somehow moves onto an outdoor bamboo scaffolding. The fight is pretty cool, but Ho Kwun is grabbed again while Yi Yi saves Chung from falling to his death. Stupid Chung, learn how to fight on bamboo scaffolding! I did!

Song calls and demands Yi Yi do more fighting. There will be a new fight tomorrow, but while Yi Yi is resting Chung grabs the phone and tries to blackmail Song for $5 million in hotel chips or he won’t let Song contact Yi Yi again and thus she won’t fight and he won’t earn money off of the gambling.

After that, Yi Yi gets a text to meet the next fighter. They turn out to be two b-boys (that is those street breakdancers, for those of you who aren’t hip to slang) and they do dance fighting (including having a giant boom box that they pass back and forth while fighting like it is a hot potato.) The street crowd follows along thinking it is a street show performance, clapping as Yi Yi kicks the crap out of the guys, breakdancing style. The thing about this is the fight could have been so much cooler if Yi Yi was smiling and happy and all into dance-fighting. The tone would have been more fun. Not that the fight itself was bad, it had good choreography but there was potential for more that wasn’t there. Yi Yi wins (duh) and even threatens Song by the camera guy who was taping the fight.

Chung goes on the website (Website name: Just to Stay Alive) and sees the announcement for the next fight: Nie Yi Yi vs Song Li Shan. Ho Kwun tells Song to lose the fight, that’s when we find out Ho Kwun is behind all of this. But we already knew that because it is totally obvious. Song meets Yi Yi at a bar two days before their fight, because he always meets his opponents for drinks. He tells her that Chung extorted money from the group to keep them in contact with her. He also gives her some disks, tells her they will fight in two days, and drives off. Yi Yi punches Chung.

The twitchy-faced guy that was in the restaurant during the kidnapping looks like he is an undercover cop, and is also discovered and big thugs close in on him. Yi Yi breaks into the building that houses the website company, sneaks around, but eventually there are like 50 guards in front of her. I have never seen so many guards at an internet start-up company building. Maybe Google or Yahoo’s HQ has that many guards on staff. Yi Yi pulls out nunchucks she got from some fight earlier. The herd of security guards do attack in a group instead of one by one, but she beats every single freaking one! It is freaking Jiang Luxia, you can’t beat her!

The next room has a boxing ring and Song is in the middle of it. Fight time! Song is a tae kwon do champion, and he taunts her for being tired. Let’s see you beat up fifty dudes at once. There is a bunch more fighting, all of which is recorded online (even Chung is watching online.) The fight spills outside the ring and into the hallway (where there isn’t internet cameras.)

Yi Yi demands to know where her boss and wife are being held, so Song punches her through the glass ceiling into the room where they are sitting, relaxing with wine and watching the fight. She realizes she has been betrayed. Ho Kwun still wants her to go fight because it isn’t over. Even when Song enters to explain that they had watched Yi Yi for six months before they hired her Ho Kwun still wants them to fight. Ho Kwun then slaps his wif around for revealing all the other people they get to fight are volunteers. Ho Kwun then dumps a ton of money on the floor so the two contestants will continue to fight. Instead, Yi Yi tries to punch Ho Kwun, but Song blocks her, and soon the two are fighting again.

Susan is angry about being slapped around and drops a bookshelf on Ho Kwun. Ho Kwun is too weak to even get out from under it. A woman scorned… By now, the fight between Yi Yi and Song has moved back into the ring and has become even more brutal. Yi Yi almost kills him, but doesn’t, and then goes to punch Ho Kwun around a bit. Then cops come in lead by the twitchy guy (a flashback shows that Yi Yi untied him when she was looking around the building earlier)

Yi Yi walks alone leaving the building, ignoring Chung. The end.

That was…interesting. The choreography was cool, the fights were brutal, but the results were not spectacular. The movie sapped most of what made Jiang Luxia so likable, for reasons I don’t understand at all. What is the point of having a movie made around someone if the movie totally ignores everything that made that person popular. It is like having a Godzilla movie where Godzilla is learning how to dance to impress a hot robot chick. Totally not what we want. I am sure Jiang Luxia will bounce back and be a big action star soon. And I am ready and waiting to watch those films when they exist. Or I will kick the Hong Kong movie industry in the face.

Rated 4/10 (Angry Waiter, Wiggy, Blondie, Boombox Bobby)

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