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.
1987 Directed by Ngai Kai Lam
Written by Chang Kwan
Erotic Ghost Story is a classic Hong Kong Cat III film, it is the second most popular with only Sex and Zen being a greater influence to Cat III erotic films. Part of what made Sex and Zen so classic was previewed here, including one of the stars.
The film has its origins as a tale from Liaozhai Zhiyi aka Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio aka Strange Tales of Liaozhai, written by Pu Songling (1640-1715) during the early Qing Dynasty. This is a collection of 431 stories written in classical Chinese (not the usual form for the time.) The earliest existing printed version dates to 1766, but it may have been published earlier. Pu Songling was a former scholar himself, which may explain why a scholar becomes the central figure of some many of his tales. Stories from Liao zhai Zhiyi have inspired countless Chinese films and television shows. Painted Skin, Tsui Hark’s A Chinese Ghost Story, and several TV shows with fox spirits. You can read many of the translated tales here. Many stories are short, as what was important was the emotional response, not the details.
The three main characters are fox spirits who are trying to become human. This can be accomplished by meditation and prayer, but takes hundreds of years. If they deviate from their path, they will revert back into animals.
Erotic Ghost Story‘s Chinese title is Liao zhai yan tan, which betrays its origin as coming from the Liao Zhai stories. It is a highly eroticized version of the tales, and many other movies and shows reference the work by having Liao zhai or liu chai or liu jai in their Chinese titles. The Witches of Eastwick is largely listed as another inspiration of Erotic Ghost Story, and it got another lucky strike as A Chinese Ghost Story was released the same year. A Chinese Ghost Story had made ghost lover stories incredibly popular. Add that to the fact that Erotic Ghost Story is very well made despite its role as an exploitation film, and you have a recipe for success that made Erotic Ghost Story a classic film that has several sequels and imitators. Maybe we will get to a few of them someday.
Another important factor in the success of Erotic Ghost Story was the presence of Amy Yip Ji-Mei. Amy Yip (aka The Yipster) was at one point the most popular sex symbol in Hong Kong cinema, and pretty much any book you read on Hong Kong cinema written from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s will have at least one chapter dedicated to her. Some authors were disturbingly obsessed with her, but creepy movie books is a subject for another article. She was propelled to stardom with this film, and to super-stardom after Sex and Zen. Amy Yip’s claim to fame was her gigantic rack, and her ability to keep from showing the essential elements of said rack. This was called her “Yip tease”. She revealed things only once, in Sex and Zen, and this was rumored to be because one of the producers was a triad gangster who threatened her. Like most Chinese actresses, she retired and dropped off the face of the Earth after a few years. So let’s meet her and the rest of the cast:
Hua-Hua (Amy Yip Ji-Mei) – Her name is Hua-Hua in subtitles, but Fa-Fa is what is spoken in the Cantonese version. I will be using the subtitle names for everyone, which I believe is derived from the Mandarin names. Oh, well. Played by Amy Yip, Hua-Hua is the middle sister, and her color of choice is purple.
Pai So-So (Man Siu) – So-So is the average one. Okay, now we go the obvious joke out of the way, let’s then reveal that So-So is the oldest sister. She helps guide her two younger sisters in their quest to evolve from fox spirits to human beings. At age 50, foxes can choose to become human or spirits. I bet you didn’t know that. Well, Chinese mythology knows it, so you better buy the Cliff Notes! Her color of choice is pink.
Fei-Fei (Kudo Hitomi) – The youngest of the three sisters and the most easily given to temptation. Sister number three is also the most exposed of the three. Kudo Hitomi seemed to vanish after this role, but I suspect she was a Japanese AV star that I just can’t find any information on because everything focuses on newer actresses. Her color of choice is Lime Green.
Scholar Wu Ming (Tan Lap-Man) – A shy scholar who is also a ladies man and lothario. He gets chased by bandits at one point, and has a terrible, terrible secret….
Wutung (Tan Lap-Man) – This demon is the true form of Wu Ming. Let that be a less to you: All scholars are secretly demonic monsters. The next time you see a scholar beat him upside the head with his books. Wutung is the God of Carnal Desire. He has no clan as far as I know.
Hsuan Kuei (Lam Chung) – A taoist priest who recognize the girls for what they are, and helps them defeat wutung. Lam Chung usually plays sleazy characters in films, so this turn as a Taoist priest is a departure. He will fill the role of Lam Ching Ying for this film.
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.