aka Phoenix The Ninja aka 蓋世奇花 aka Wolf Devil Woman 3 aka Gai shi ji hua
1981 Script by Godfrey Ho Jeung-Keung
Story by Pearl Cheung Ling
Directed by Fong Ho
It’s Pearl Cheung Ling Time! Another classic Pearl Cheung Ling martial arts cinema masterpiece gets its due. Miraculous Flower (possibly better known as Phoenix The Ninja, as that’s the name I knew it as for years!) is a great piece of cinema that stands on the edge of Pearl-insanity and classic wuxia revenge. Filled with kooky characters, varied and elaborate environments, and plenty of gory action, Miraculous Flower pulls out all the stops and succeeds in being entertaining and fun.
This is her first film where Pearl is actively involved in the narrative construction beyond just a producer role. And while she did come up with the story, it’s obvious that they needed to follow a more traditional kung fu revenge narrative. While it still walks the edge of the volcano, there are moments where things go a bit wild. It is probably safe to say some of the smaller quirks are also Pearl’s doing, and things were added to tailor to her interests. When Pearl is dressed in the all black revenge costume and swooping around like an angel of death, that’s pretty much pure Pearl Cheung Ling. Her transformation sequence in Matching Escort involves her donning a full white costume, while in Wolf Devil Woman the entire character changes constantly through the film. Dark Lady of Kung Fu deals with this by having Pearl’s character having two separate identities. By the time of her final film General Invincible, the Pearl character is torn between two worlds and duty and honor from those worlds, and the consequences thereof.
As we noted before, Matching Escort was retitled during a released as Wolf Devil Woman 2, and Miraculous Flower was retitled Wolf Devil Woman 3, despite being made before either of the other two films! I have two versions of Miraculous Flower, the Hong Kong release that features all the gore but is missing some scenes in the beginning featuring the Happy Fairy, and the international IFD retitle Phoenix the Ninja that has the gore trimmed but doesn’t feature any full cut scenes. I do not know why the early scenes were cut, maybe to make room on a vcd or something? Both versions feature different credit sequences. A good breakdown of the two versions can be found here.
Ao-shuang Leng (Pearl Cheung Ling) – Just your average woman whose mother died and sends her on a quest that turns out to be far bigger than she imagined. She’s totally not the last of the May family hidden away so well even she doesn’t know it! And that certainly wouldn’t send her out seeking revenge!
Lord No-dust (Tsung Hua) – Lord No-dust hates dirt! Yet somehow he decided to wear white outfits all of the time in a land filled with women named Ao-shuang who constantly get him dirty. Okay, only one woman named Ao-shuang does that, but as she’s the main character and his lover interest, it’s a pretty important Ao-shuang. Lord No-dust secretly learned martial arts after his father forbid it.
Sheue Huai-jen (Wang Hsieh) – Lord No-dust’s father and the head of Snow Shadow in Plume Woods. He was involved in martial arts intrigue long ago and faces continual fallout, including lots of people who want to see him dead. ANd he may have been involved in Ao-shaung’s family’s murder.
Happy Fairy (Gua Ah-Leh) – Sometimes called My Lady, Happy Fairy is a martial arts master who motivates Ao-shuang to continue her quests and teaches her skills she needs to defeat the bad guys who killed her family.
The Monk Syma Chin-cherng (???) – A simple regretful monk is more than he seems, as not only is he Ao-shuang’s father’s brother, but he totally is behind the whole slaughter of her family thing!
and Red Eagle! I had no idea that Red Eagle was even released in the west, but you can now buy it on a crappy 4-pack DVD! I have no idea if it is dubbed or subbed, as the original Red Eagle is in Thai. All the Red Eagle photos are of the movie Gold Eagle aka Insee Thong, the last Red Eagle film.
A Hong Kong Girls with Guns film, starring mainstay Yukari Oshima as well as costars Dick Wei and Phillip Ko. Directed by the infamous Godfrey Ho (though there are rumors that this Godfrey Ho was just a pseudonym for Phillip Ko!) and some random guy named Chris Li. This film followed in the wake of the Angels films and is filled with lots of action thrown together with a cops and triads plot where women beat up and shoot lots of dudes. The fad produced a great deal of these films before the market moved on to other things. So here’s one of them. It’s not the best, it’s not the worst, it just is. And some days, isn’t that enough?
Angel’s Mission is also known as Xian fa zhi ren, as well as Born to Fight, Buddha’s Justice, Kicking Buddha, and Sin faat jai yan. Welcome to the world of renamed Hong Kong movies!
Hing-tse (Yukari Oshima) – A Japanese police officer visiting her mother Song in Hong Kong and finds out her mom is involved in prostitution. Gets attacked by random guys constantly throughout the film, and even takes down a Triad boss for reasons not too clear but related to Japanese phobia of AIDS. See her also in Tomb Raiders, Godfather’s Daughter, and Deadly Target.
Lee San-Mo (Dick Wei) – A former triad who’s boss was murdered and is now searching for lost sister Anna. Gets sucked back into the Triad world while investigating. See him also in Angel Enforcers.
Mr. Ma Sheng-fung (Chen Kuan-Tai) – Crime boss, businessman, and not very bright. Gets killed due to his lack of killing his subordinate Crowbar like he should have. Don’t make that mistake, people! Kill your crowbars.
Crowbar (Phillip Ko) – Assistant to Ma Sheng-fung and planning to eliminate him and take over. Wins an award for having one of the dumbest names in a Hong Kong film, no small feat. Seriously, where’s Tire Iron and Jackhammer? Let’s have an “All Things Found in a Trunk” gang! That would rule. Warning Flare, Jumper Cable, Bag of Sand, all killer triad nicknames. Phillip Ko has been in a billion movies including Fatal Termination, Angel Enforcers, and Deadly Target.
Officer Karen (Ha Chi Chun) – Likes roughing up criminals and is a cop. Her brother was a triad boss, and just happened to be Lee San-Mo’s murdered boss. Ha Chi Chun is also known as Ha Chia Ling or Ha Chi-Jan depending on which translation you use, and was seen here in Angel Enforcers.
Creepy Triad #1 (????) – One of Crowbar’s men, this guy wears big sunglasses, big hats, and has a creepy grin. I could not figure out who the actor was.
Creepy Triad #2 (James Ha Chim-Si) – Another of Crowbar’s men, this guy also wears big sunglasses, big hats, and has a creepy grin.
1989 Directed by Hoh Chi Mau (probably Godfrey Ho)
Another in the long line of female action movies from Hong Kong, this uses the Angel name in its title despite being unrelated to Angel. The 1989 release date puts it near the beginnings of the movement, so it was released before the genre became fully saturated and the public moved on to different interests. That doesn’t mean it is a good film, but it is entertaining, lots of people end up getting shot, and main characters don’t even make it through the end of the film! What is weird is the film seems billed as a group of four female cops, but two of them have roles that are less substantial than minor characters in the film. It is what we would call “crazy”. The film is directed by Hoh Chi Mau, but this is the only film he is listed as directing, and on the dubbed trailer Godfrey Ho is listed as director(!) so this is probably just another of his pseudonyms. Previous Godfrey Ho encounters on TarsTarkas.NET include Robo Vampire (since proved NOT Godrey Ho), Catman in Lethal Track, Catman in Boxers Blow, and Deadly Target; so you can see why we are not too pleased to run into him again. Keep in mind that sometimes Godfrey Ho’s name showed up as director of films he didn’t do after Joseph Lai’s company released them (one noticeable example is Wolf Devil Woman, really directed by Pearl Cheung Ling.) Angel Enforcers is supposed to be out on DVD, but all we have is a subtitled, tore up VHS (and as those DVDs are just sourced from VHS, so we aren’t that far behind in quality) so that’s what we got screencaps from. Heck, maybe I’ll upgrade to Laserdisc next! The Inaccurate Movie DataBase is all over the map on the cast listing here, throwing in all sorts of actors and actresses that are nowhere near this film. But that’s what happens when you let the general public edit things. Enough complaining, we must get with the non-stop Hong Kong action! Cops shooting, criminals being evil, people dying, and women kicking butt!
First let’s meet our characters….
Yvonne (Sharon Yeung Pan Pan) – The main character does the best stunts, including unrealistic jump work during gun battles, and falling off of moving cars. When her partner is killed, she goes for revenge. Pan Pan Yeung starred in many action films through the mid-1990s, and was also seen here in Deadly Target
Marianne (Aan Lee) – Female cop and a real Angel Enforcer. Partner and friend of Yvonne, and committed to justice. Shoots Lethal Weapon 1, thus inspiring Lethal Weapon 2 to try to kill her. Is the daughter of police officer Uncle Dan and has a sister named Winnie. All three of them get exploded at various parts of the film.
Lethal Weapon 2 (Dick Wei) – Partner of Lethal Weapon 1, LW2 doesn’t get a name during the entire film! What the heck, as he is the main villain! That’s lame. LW2 is on a vendetta against Marianne for killing Lethal Weapon 1, despite Mr. Big trying to make him wait for things to cool down a bit before seeking revenge.
Lethal Weapon 1 /Larry (Phillip Ko) – One of the two hired guns recruited by Mr. Big to kill undercover cop Ben, LW1 tries to do the job himself to protect his partner and ends up getting killed, inspiring Lethal Weapon 2 to seek revenge. Prolific actor Phillip Ko was also seen here in Deadly Target
Mr. Big (Ha Chi Chun)- Mr. Big is the mastermind of crime in Hong Kong. Mr. Big is also a girl! There is a bird skeleton on Mr. Big’s desk, which probably is an interesting story in itself, and adds to the character’s charm. Ha Chi Chun is also known as Ha Chia Ling or Ha Chi-Jan depending on which translation you use, and is probably best known for being in Erotic Ghost Story.
Topless white girl (???) – She’s white, she’s topless, she mixes drinks with her breasts, and she invites gay porn stars to rape local businessmen. She’s an Angel Enforcer of her own, except she’s enforcing evil!
Cop girl 3 (Chiu Wai-Ling) – Member of the Angel Enforcer B Squad, Cop Girl 3 gets no real name (except one spelled out in Chinese characters that I can’t read) and is barely in the film after the opening scene, until returning for the ending. Absolutely nothing interesting about her.
Cop girl 4 (Kitty Meng Chui) – Member of the Angel Enforcer B Squad, Cop Girl 4 gets no real name (except one spelled out in Chinese characters that I can’t read) and is barely in the film after the opening scene, until returning for the ending. And a random fight in the park. Absolutely nothing interesting about her.
String Bean Sodomist (???) – One of the “blue movie stars from Hollywood” called in to ravage Mr. Cho. Looks like someone excavated his body, leaving only a skeleton. His hair has seemed to have slipped off the top of his head and is hanging on in beard form. Mr. Cho is never seen again after encountering String Bean Sodomist and his black partner, one can only assume the three moved to the Bay Area to settle.
In Manila, two female Hong Kong cops visit one’s cousin, only to find out he is an evil weapons dealer that targets them for death. They team up with supercop Eddie and take down their cousin as well as a bunch of other goons in a prime example of mid-90’s Hong Kong action films. We get lots of shootouts, lots of jumping stunts, kung fu mixed in the middle of gun battles, and things exploding all over the place. These films are miles beyond the current CGI/PG-13 garbage being spewed out by Hollywood, but for a Hong Kong action film of the era, it doesn’t really stand out. However, it has chicks with guns blasting people all over the place, so it fits right into our pseudo-theme month. This is a low-budget movie filmed in the Philippines to save on costs, more info is with the cast.
Female action stars have a long and glorious career in Asian cinema. Go read a book about them or something. Okay, just kidding. There was a big “Girls with Guns” fad in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s which is the focus here, and this is one of many entries that were low-budget but filled with lots of stunts. Many of the films had several of about six to eight actresses who were in the bulk of them, and we have two here, Yukari Oshima and Sharon Yeung Pan Pan, who both have a long resume filled with similar films.
Lisa Li (Yukari Oshima) – A Hong Kong police woman who goes on vacation in the Philippines to visit her cousin Ben Hung, who turns out to be really evil! Her boss in the Hong Kong is named Tiger. Aren’t you glad I pointed that out? May also go by the name “Cynthia Lee,” as a sign in the movie says. Yukari Oshima was a big action star in the late 1980s/early 1990s Hong Kong, but by this point was working out of the Philippines because the Hong Kong studio didn’t know what to do with a half-Japanese female action star, especially one that was usually branded asexual because she wasn’t supermodel attractive. This is a shame, as Yukari is very skilled in the martial arts. See her here in Godfather’s Daughter and Tomb Raiders/Avenging Quartet
Anna Yeung (Sharon Yeung Pan Pan) – Partner of Lisa Li who accompanies her on vacation. Despite both of them being largely asexual, they certainly have a few lesbianic undertones thrown in during their workout sessions. No complaints. Sharon Yeung Pan Pan was a talented martial artist who starred in Hong Kong movies and television through the 80’s and 90’s, ending her run around the end of the girls with guns movie fad.
Cousin Ben Hung (John Cheung) – Cousin of Lisa Li who also happens to be an evil gun smuggler. Sort of how my cousin works for Coca-Cola. Except he’s not evil, nor smuggles guns. Ben Hung has a sister who isn’t named despite being a major character. Once Lisa Li and her friends get in the way, it is time to see that money is thicker than blood, and he tries to take her out.
Eddie (Edu Manzano) – The supercop of the Philippines, every gun runner and drug dealer knows his name. Edu Manzano is still acting today and appeared in such Filipino genre films as Captain Barbell and Darna: The Return.
Ben Hung’s Sister (Sarah Gomez) – Hi, I’m Ben Hung’s Sister. I’m evil, I’m a main villain, I sleep with men to convince them to buy guns from my brother, and I don’t have a name! What the Hell, movie?
Henry Wong (Phillip Ko) – Rumored he was married to Yukari Oshima at the time and may have been the actual director using Godfrey Ho’s name as a pseudonym! That would be a first (this is rumored for a few of these Phillip Ko/Yukari Oshima/Godfrey Ho Filipino action films) but may just be an artifact of Godfrey Ho’s constant use of fake names. Godfrey Ho, why do you continue to make researching these movies difficult?
Dik (????) – Undercover cop in Ben Hung’s gang. Gets his cover blown. Enjoys dressing in dresses. Sadly, he does not make it to the end of the film. I will always remember you, Dik. Maybe I’ll find out who played you.
1993 (probably really 1990)
Jonathan Isgar as Catman
Bruce Fontaine as ???
Kenneth Goodman as ???
Mark King as ???
Kenneth Woods as ??? Directed by Godfrey Ho
There is no boxer in this film. There is Catman! Catman! The savior of Thailand who helped defeat the evil Father Cheever and his gang of jugglers and headbangers while a completely different movie happened in the background is back, while once again a completely different movie happens in the background! This is the second Godfrey Ho Catman movie, after the abysmal Catman in Lethal Track, one would think you can’t sink any lower. One would be wrong, as Godfrey Ho not only takes us to the depths of Hell, he goes deep inside to Hell’s Hell. From confusing characters to seizure-inspired editing to 1/3 of the movie being shot at night on a moonless night with characters wearing black, Catman in Boxers Blow is a marvel of bad filmmaking. A spectacle that shines as a beacon of muck, inspiring films to ramp up the levels of loathsome, greasy, unlikable characters and situations just to compete in the world of trash. Godfrey Ho and Joseph Lai have truly outdone themselves with this entry.
The Movie B of Boxers Blow is a Thai action/heist movie, but is very confusing. For 80% of the time I was watching it I had little to no idea what was going on. They have a massive, massive amount of characters that are introduced with no name or explanation and disappear for 30 minutes at a time, few of which are distinct enough to even remember. Even making a chart like I will do of the characters is confusing, as many are left out in the cold due to their vagueness. The fates of some of these characters is unknown, thanks to the poor filmmaking of the Thai film and the even poorer editing of the Godfrey Ho parts. The resulting mess is less of a hodgepodge and more of a junkpile, with a few recognizable pieces of trash, but the majority has spoiled and rotted away so much you can’t stand to look at it.