Kick Ass Girls
Written and directed by Vincci Cheuk/GC Goo-Bi
Chrissie Chau and other hot girls wearing gym outfits and beating the crap out of each other sounds like a winning idea that of course the Hong Kong government handed over a wad of cash. But Kick Ass Girls somehow managed to be a disjointed mess that somehow misses the entire idea of “girl power” in a film about female empowerment (through violence!) Still, it’s not nearly as terrible as Angel Warriors, but it won’t be on anyone’s must see list.
Kick Ass Girls has a female writer/director, which is the reason I bothered to watch it. This is the first full length film directed by Vincci Cheuk/GC Goo Bi (she previously directed a segment in 2001’s Heroes in Love), and she also appears in front of the camera as a goth assistant who secretly works for the evil boss that traps our heroines. Her goth character Amy’s silent stares are a sharp contrast to the three main girls and their bubbly personalities, which are full of energy even when they are arguing with each other (and thus doing overly dramatic sighs!)
We know none of the girls are going to die thanks to an interview framing device, which immediately destroys all suspense. They even go so far as to jump back to the framing right as the “to the death” fights begin, just to reassure you that the ladies won’t die. The fights in the middle of the film are a series of bouts where we essentially watch our heroines get pummeled by some tough girls. The fights aren’t even that bad, though if you pay attention you can detect how they edited to compensate for the lack of fighting skills among the stars.
One of the deals with Kick Ass Girls is the ladies using their sexuality to get money from men. The gym is set up to lure in paying customers, who then go for “achievements” like there is a video game, eventually earning the right to have fights with the female trainers, and probably do a lot of groping during said fight. Miu does more than just groping to a few of the clients, but her promiscuity isn’t treated as a bad thing, just a useful part of her personality set. In the most WTF part of Kick Ass Girls, Boo somehow still has her purse after they’ve been kidnapped and beaten in their first fight, and it has three complete S&M outfits inside the ladies can use to seduce their guards to escape (though the guard seems enraged instead of seduced, so who knows what is going on!) I can’t come up with a reason why they have the leather outfits (beyond giving an excuse to film the girls in leather outfits) unless 50 Shades of Grey is also popular in Hong Kong.
What Boo didn’t count on was Miu prying her way into a friendship, and even trying to manipulate the rekindling of friendship with TT. That all ends in disaster with a bunch of rude comments, until many hired goons come into the gym to beat up the girls. They defeat these random attackers, which turned out to all be a test from the mysterious Zhuge (Chris Tung Bing-Yuk), a jeweler who needs female bodyguards for a trip to Malaysia. This sounds totally on the up and up, but the desperation for money to save the business leads to everyone accepting.
Of course it’s all a trap! Admiral Akbar has been texting these three girls the whole flight, why oh why did they block his number? Shouldn’t have sent all those dirty snapchats, Admiral!
The journey here is part of the film’s weird tone shifts, from sitcom friends comedy to Hostel-level light travel adventure where you know something bad will happen to underground cage death matches. But Kick Ass Girls never fully embraces it exploitative spirit, nor does it seem to be a good example of a girl power anthem.
Only by working together can the three fight and overcome their obstacles, not only not being murdered in the ring, but escaping. They team up to fight against the entirely male guards, plowing through them like hot knife through butter. The only female is Zhuge, who dies because she sided with the men. The head boss guy is invincibly powered, but his one weakness is his groin. Yes, Kick Ass Girls doesn’t have time to be subtle, and soon the three ladies are punching and kicking the villain in the groin over and over again until he’s defeated. Girl power and all that.
So, are they empowered? Well, they become famous due to this and their gym is making lots of money and packed with cute boys for them all to date. So mission accomplished! Otherwise, the characters are largely where they were when they started, the only personal growth was Boo becoming close with TT again due to the ordeal. The only character arc is GC Goo Bi’s Amy, who gets a makeover that turns her good, because all women become good when you do their makeup. She then dies, because she was still evil to begin with. No redemption in the world of Kick Ass Girls, just lots of kicking of ass.
A final weird thing was Chrissie Chau’s Boo feeling old because she just turned thirty. Characters give her a botox kit, which she doesn’t need. The thing is extra surreal because Chrissie Chau was presented as the upgraded version of the older Shu Qi in 2010’s City Under Siege. Now a scant two years later, Chau is too old? I think not! Especially since Hong Kong hasn’t produced a younger generation of stars that can pack in the audience like the old school crew. Chrissie Chau is popular, but she isn’t a megastar and she isn’t old. Does this mean the youth based society is putting extra pressure on younger and younger women to remain younger? Because that doesn’t seem very kick ass. Chrissie Chau should kick societal pressure in the ass, girl!
Rated 3/10 (nurse power, whale time, panda chow time)
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