Magnificent Warriors (Review)

Magnificent Warriors

aka 中華戰士 aka Zhong hua zhan shi aka Dynamite Fighters aka Yes, Madam 3
Magnificent warriors
1987
Written by Tsang Kan-Cheung
Directed by David Chung Chi-Man

Magnificent warriors
Magnificent Warriors is a required Michelle Yeoh film to watch. There is so much energy and joy here as she gleefully beats the tar out of dozens of people while cracking whips, flying planes, and firing guns. She’s a pure pulp action hero who runs guns for rebels, flies her own plane, dogfights fighters despite being outmatched, goes on secret missions, does her job, helps inspire the people to fight, and stands tall against impossible odds.

Yeoh easily outshines costars Derek Yee and Richard Ng and the entire film is built around her mission against the invading Japanese. I don’t mean to cut Richard Ng short, he does hold his own as a live-action cartoon drifter con man who bumbles into all the action. Ng’s unnamed Drifter comes complete with his own cartoonish theme music that completely contrasts with the rest of the film’s adventury score, which totally works for hammering in the point that his character is a completely different archetype plopped into this mayhem. Together Ng and Yeoh overshadow Derek Yee so much that despite his character being a James Bond analogue he can barely keep up with them (and it stands out even more with Yeoh moving on to being an actual Bond girl!) Yee was from a prominent entertainment family and would eventually move into producing and directing and based on his output he seems to have found a good fit, several of his films being acclaimed as classics.
Magnificent warriors
Magnificent Warriors is one of the Hong Kong films I rented from the late, lamented Le Video in San Francisco, I was working through Yeoh’s filmography (shockingly, most of her movies weren’t available in video stores in the Midwest!) and this one was amazing enough I watched it twice and ended up with a DVD myself soon after. It also begot my love for Richard Ng, as he popped up in some of the films I rented in rapid succession but was first memorable here.
Magnificent warriors

Michelle Yeoh is listed as “Michelle Kheng” in these credits, I’m not sure if this is a misspelling of her Michelle Khan name or if it was a legit new name for her they were trying out (with Hong Kong cinema either one could be true!) This was one of her last films (I think the last one though one was released later) before she married producer Dickson Poon and retired for five years (the marriage dissolved and there is plenty of gossip about why online!) before returning in a big way with Police Story III.

Fok Ming-Ming (Michelle Yeoh) is recruited by the resistance to extract the ruler of occupied Kaa Yi City before the Japanese begin construction of a chemical weapons plant in the city. There she is to make contact with Derek Yee’s Agent 001 to find the ruler, Youda. Youda is played by famed composer Lowell Lo Koon-Ting, who notably did not do the fun score here but has probably doene the scores for dozens of Hong Kong films you have seen. (Magnificent Warriors was scored by Joseph Chan Wing-Leung and Sherman Chow Gam-Cheung) Into the mix comes Ng’s Drifter, who Ming first thinks is Agent 001, and later Youda’s lover Chin Chin (Lau Chin-Dai), who follows Youda’s resistance despite her father being in deep with the occupying Japanese. The Japanese are lead by General Toga (overplayed to perfection by Matsui Tetsuya), who abuse and terrorize the population while trying to set up their nefarious schemes to further expand their empire. Despite having the numbers, their troops fall fast and furious to Ming, who punches and kicks through them like a knife through butter.

Fun scenes include the heroes making a vow to escape together, do their daring escape, realize Ming-Ming is left behind, and then barge back in to save her. There is also the Drifter’s cheating at gambling, which gets spoiled when prior people he cheated burst in to demand revenge (one is played by Chiu Chi-Ling!) At one point during an early fight, Drifter suddenly is armed with a gigantic mallet! But the most fun is just Michelle Yeoh enthusiastically beating everyone up! The only real criticism is the action happens so often we barely get any time for characterization, but as everyone is an existing archetype they don’t need to stray from those molds. Magnificent Warriors brings a fun time for all, and is well worth tracking down for fans of action cinema or if you just want to relive the nostalgia of Hong Kong cinema magic.

One final thing, the film is sponsored by a watch company, which is why there is a weird focus on a particular type of watch early one, so lol at the blatant product placement. Just ignore the watch, and watch the film! (Zing!)
Magnificent warriors

Rated 9/10


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Magnificent warriors

Magnificent warriors

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Magnificent warriors

Magnificent warriors

Magnificent warriors

Magnificent warriors

Magnificent warriors

Magnificent warriors

Magnificent warriors

Magnificent warriors

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Written by Tars Tarkas

Tars Tarkas

Runs this joint!