Jane Bond – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 10

The Infernal Brains are back again, this time with a special Guest Brain, duriandave from Softfilm, Soft Tofu Tumblr, and Connie Chan Movie Fan Princess!


Actual photo of duriandave

Join Tars, Todd, and Dave as we discuss one of our collectively favorite world movie subgenres, Cantonese female focused action films that became known as Jane Bond films! We chat about Connie Chan, Josephine Siao, Suet Nei, So Ching, Fanny Fan, Lily Ho, Chor Yuen, masked heroines, James Bond influences, theater singing, the genesis of the genre, and many films that you’ll be hunting down for the next few years! It’s an infotainment explosion of knowledge that will pack your brain with so many cool facts that they’ll start leaking out your ears and drip on the carpet! The Infernal Brains are not responsible for any carpet cleaning bills.

As usual, we got more listening choices than you can shake an unsubtitled vcd at: downloadable mp3, embedded flash with slideshow, embedded audio player, and iTunes feed link. So many choices, you’ll have to call in your secret evil gang to select them all!

Download the mp3 (right click, save as)

Watch in slideshow form:

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Click the graphic for Podcast Feed:

Click here for iTunes Feed

Films Discussed:
Black Rose – Tars Review, Todd Review, Dave Review
Spy With My Face
The Blonde Hair Monster – Dave Review
Lady Black Cat – Tars Review, Dave Review
Lady Black Cat Strikes Again
The Black Killer
The Professionals
Golden Skeleton
Dark Heroine Muk Lan-Fa – Tars Review, Todd’s series overview
Dark Heroins Muk Lan-Fa Shatters the Black Dragon Gang
Lady in Black Cracks the Gates of Hell
Gold Button
Temptress of 1000 Faces
Angel with Iron Fists
Angel Strikes Again
Wong Ang vs the flying tigers part 1 part 2

Jane Bond overview
More Cantonese Cinema information

Site Links:
Soft Tofu Tumblr
SoftFilm Blog
Connie Chan Movie Fan Princess
The Lucha Diaries
Die, Danger, Die, Die, Kill!

Prior Infernal Brains:
Taiwanese Giant Monster Films Part 1
Taiwanese Giant Monster Films Part 2
Polly Shang Kuan
Turkish Pop Cinema Part 1
Turkish Pop Cinema Part 2
Dara Singh
Infernal Brains Podcast – 07 – Insee Daeng
Infernal Brains Podcast – 08 – Worst Podcast Ever
The Mummies of Guanajuato – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 09

Gold Button (Review)

Gold Button

aka 金鈕扣

Directed by Cheung Wai-Gwong
Gold Button
As the female-focused action films that later became collectively called Jane Bond films evolved, other studios quickly jumped into the action to capitalize on the Black Rose/Connie Chan mania. Besides the already reviews Dark Heroine Trilogy, another entry is Gold Button. Gold Button features mysterious star So Ching and shows off some of the James Bond spy influences that helped shape a good number of the Jane Bond films. We have such wonderful things as doomsday weapons, an all-powerful secret gang, female agents, gunfights, punching, gangs of girls in swimsuits, dozens of nameless henchmen, a masked boss of the evil gang, spy gadgets, a film named after a flower/characters named after a flower, and stolen theme music (including the James Bond theme!)
Gold Button

Things get a bit more sleazy than the female-audience targeted Connie and Josephine flicks. Fanny Fan is naked in the back, while female characters are forced to disrobe and threatened with rape, and we see undies tossed on the floor. But even the sleaze is held back, the women wear one-piece swimsuits instead of bikinis! I am not sure if Mingxing Film Company is imitating 1966’s Golden Buddha with the extra sexiness, or if these films began production before Golden Buddha and it is ramping up things for another reason. Gwan Jing-Leung did the stunt work, and Wong To produced.
Gold Button

So Ching displays not nearly as much charm as Connie Chan and Josephine Siao in her appearances in front of the camera, probably due to her not growing up while making movies like those two. But she does have that beauty contest winner appeal and serious tone (contrasted by Fanny Fan playing the sexpot here!) After making several Jane Bond type films and a few other pictures, So Ching seems to have dropped off the face of the Earth. So Ching, if you have ever returned to Earth, please let us know!
Gold Button

Fanny Fan Lai started acting in 1957 after winning that often entry point into Hong Kong cinema, a beauty contest. Acting under the name Wan Li-Hong in Shaw’s Cantonese division, she failed to achieve much success until she joined Shaw Brothers’s Mandarin division as Fanny Fan, and became a star with 1959’s The Pink Murder. She became known as a sexpot and bad girl, probably best for her role in The Golden Buddha. Her nickname was the Oriental Brigitte Bardot. She retired from film in 1969.

As you can probably guess from the craptacular images included in this review, Gold Button is not available on in any sort of format you can find acceptable. I scored this from a Hong Kong tv broadcast someone uploaded to a Chinese YouTube site, complete with the station’s squashed picture due to the widescreen not being anamorphic. The uploader took it upon himself to blur out the station logo, so the top right of the screencaps look like someone smeared vasoline all over them. There is also a small segment of the film missing, and the very small compression on YouKu means if I blew the images up any larger than I have, they’ll just look like a bunch of blurry squares. As there is little information on Gold Button out there, it is currently unknown of the three other films So Ching made that feature many of the same cast are also part of this series or their own thing. TarsTarkas.NET will let you know the second someone uploads squashed tv recordings of the film for us to gawk at and write lame jokes.
Gold Button

Miss Peony Pai No. 1 (So Ching) – Her full name mentioned in the subtitles is Miss Peony Pai No. 1. As there are other Pai No.s and other Miss Pais, I guess her real name is Peony? The character is as mysterious as anything else. Her character is engaged to Chief Lin and calls Miss Pai No. 2 her sister, though probably in a sisterhood sense and not blood sisters.
Miss Pai No. 2 (Fanny Fan Lai) – The sexpot member of the Pai crew who is kidnapped and replaced by a prototype from Mistress of 1000 Faces. Because her sexy double was sexy and sinful, Miss Pai No. 2’s character doesn’t live to the end of the film.
Chief Lin Wen-Tsu (Wu Fung) – The Interpol Chief ho just can’t seem to catch those rascally Devils Gang members. Luckily, he’s engaged to one of the hot spy babes his unit outsources, which is totally not a conflict of interest that should be investigated by higherups at Interpol. Actor Bowie Wu Fung was a leading man for decades in Cantonese film, and has popped up in Lady Black Cat and The Red Wolf
Yim Lam (Seung-Goon Yuk) – Interpol doesn’t outsource all their female talent, and officer Yim Lam is competent and confident enough to save the day and catch Interpol traitors.
Assistant Chief (Roy Chiao Hung) – I’m sure this guy is an honest cop and is in no way evil… Roy Chaio Hung also shows up in The Dark Heroine Muk Lan-Fa
Devils Gang Boss (It is a mystery…) – The villainous boss of the Devils Gang, who doesn’t get a cool name. He does get a cool costume, which looks like they stole it from a local high school band, gave him a cape and eyeless ski mask.
No. 2 (Fung Ngai) – Fung Ngai shows up again in a film as a villain’s henchman, like he did in Spy With My Face. He does get to lead for once in Lady in Black Cracks the Gates of Hell

Gold Button
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Golden Skeleton (Review)

Golden Skeleton

aka Jin ku lou aka 金骷髏

Written and directed by Wong Fung
Golden Skeleton
Josephine Siao Fong-Fong kicks butt in this crazy awesome groovy 60s spy conspiracy Jane Bondish thriller! Despite a slow start and a confusing last minute, Golden Skeleton has become one of my favorite female spy films because the villains are just so weird. The leader Golden Skeleton is a guy in a gold skull mask, his henchmen have space cadet uniforms and masks, and Golden Skeleton is seldom seen without a pair of babes in midriff-baring hot pink catsuits flanking him. Just what evil is Golden Skeleton up to? Does it matter? What matters is cool things happen. Just go with it and enjoy the spectacle. We don’t need no stinking subtitles. Okay, fine, I did a bit of Googlin’ and found some plot points not explained by watching and making up things.
Golden Skeleton
Director and writer Wong Fung helmed 88 films, including How The Ape Girl Stole The Lotus Lamp, Blonde Hair Monster, Midnight Were-wolf, The Lady Killer, Blue Falcon, and a whole host of the Wong Fei Hung films (which he wrote even more installments than he directed!) Born in 1923 in Guangxi, he began writing films in 1950, and directing in 1959. Wong Fung joined Shaw Brothers in 1973, and retired in 1980. He passed on sometime in the 1990s. The cinematography was done by Lee Maan-Git, who also worked on Bruce Li in New Guinea.
Golden Skeleton
The soundtrack is 100% jazzy jazz. It is interesting how the all jazz soundtrack makes everything seem cooler and cooler. I should use jazzy jazz to soundtrack my life, then I’ll live in a constant cool high that will come crashing down around me when my iPod runs out of batteries. Hopefully I won’t be near any tall buildings to hurl myself off of! Just kidding, I’d totally kill myself by feeding myself to lions at the zoo, not tall buildings.
Golden Skeleton

Pink Bomb aka Agent SAA9 (Josephine Siao Fong-Fong) – The secret agent on the case against Golden Skeleton and his goons. She’s relucently forced to accept help from Agent Guy SAA6 under her boss’s orders. Spends as much time fending off his clumsy advances as she does kicking the butts of Golden Skeleton’s goons. Pink Bomb’s real name is Jenny Lin. See more Josephine Siao in How the Ape Girl Stole the Lotus Lamp and The Furious Buddha’s Palm.
Agent Guy aka SAA6 (Cheung Ying-Tsoi) – Agent Guy is our James Bond wannabe. He spends most of the film clumsily trying to seduce everything he meets. Sometimes he almost makes it! He’s also bumbles away from attempt after attempt on his life, having the luck of fools. You cannot stop Agent Guy, because he’ll trip over his own shoelace and find a code to save the world.
Chen Ho aka Agent SAA10 (Gwan Jing-Leung) – Agent SAA10 is also on the case, even though he seems to be more of a third wheel who can’t save the day himself. But he’s good to have along to absorb blows until Pink Bomb gets around to punching out the guy he’s fighting. Gwan Jing-Leung is a former Peking Opera actor (he trained under Yu Jim-yuen, father of Yu So-Chau and trainer of the Seven Fortunes (Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, and all them.)) Golden Skeleton was the first film produced by Gwan Jing-Leung, who also did the fight choreography. He produced a few more films before focusing on stunt work.
Agent SAA5 (Go Fung) – It’s yet another agent! This guy is totally not suspicious at all…
Golden Skeleton (It is a mystery!) – Who could the mysterious Golden Skeleton be? He runs a giant criminal conspiracy that does…something. And he has lots of people in high places at secret agencies, because he has people everywhere! Golden Skeleton knows that having his followers dressed in ridiculous outfits is the way to go, along with having hot babes standing beside you. This is real supervillainry, folks!

Golden Skeleton
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Lady in Black Cracks the Gate of Hell (Review)

Lady in Black Cracks the Gate of Hell

aka The Hell’s Gate aka The Black Musketeer (part 3) aka 女黑俠威震地獄門

1966HKMDB Link
Directed by Law Chi

Lady in Black Cracks the Gate of Hell is different than the other two Dark Heroine Muk Lan-Fa films, because there is less Muk Lan-Fa in it. Sister Muk Sau-Jan takes much of the spotlight for the first half of the film. I don’t know if actress Suet Nei was busy (she had several other films out that year), or if the studio decided it wanted to focus more on Law Oi-Seung and try to make her a bigger star as well. If so, it didn’t quite work, as her film output never reached star levels and she faded away to obscurity, to be only mentioned by guys with websites.

Lady in Black Cracks the Gate of Hell is also different because it looks more low-rent. The scale seems smaller, the plot more confusing, the stakes are less severe, and the villain dies in one of the lamest (but realistic) ways ever. But it’s still some good Jane Bond. And worth tracking down if you’re into this sort of stuff. Once again, the only available formats is unsubtitled vcd or DVD. And as we all know, at TarsTarkas.net, we don’t need no stinking subtitles!

Muk Lan-Fa (Suet Nei) – Cracking the gates of Hell is child’s play for the Dark Heroine at this point. So let’s give her a real challenge: punching Cerberus through the gates of Hell in one punch. Dark Heroine Muk Lan-Fa has 24 hours to complete this task.
Muk Sau-Jan (Law Oi-Seung) – Dark Heroine’s sister spends most of the film starring in the film as Dark Heroine is MIA for a huge chunk of it. And then she gets kidnapped again and again and again. It’s crazy!
Ko Cheung (Kenneth Tsang Kong) – Ko Cheung is the cop with the mop. Wait, that makes no sense. And now I’ve screwed up this whole cast bio! Dang it. Move on to the next guy…
Sing Sam Long (Fung Ngai) – The Fat Bad Guy in charge of this latest gang, whose name I didn’t catch because it isn’t in the title nor do they have their own company letterhead. As a mastermind, he’s pretty lame, and he gets foiled rather easily and dies like a jerk. A jerk!

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The Dark Heroine Muk Lan-Fa Shattered the Black Dragon Gang (Review)

The Dark Heroine Muk Lan-Fa Shattered the Black Dragon Gang

aka The Dark Heroine Mu Lanhua Shattered the Black Dragon Gang aka 女黑俠木蘭花血戰黑龍黨

1966HKMDB Link
Directed by Law Chi
The Dark Heroine Muk Lan-Fa Shattered the Black Dragon Gang
The Dark Heroine is back, and this time, it’s personal. Okay, maybe it’s not personal, but she’s back and The Dark Heroine Muk Lan-Fa Shattered the Black Dragon Gang definitely has her shattering a gang of thugs who think they can get away with doing evil stuff, even if she’s doing it in the present tense instead of the past tense. Clearly influenced by James Bond more than the preceding film, the stakes are grander (but less close to home), the external story is streamlined, and there is more even pacing of action.
The Dark Heroine Muk Lan-Fa Shattered the Black Dragon Gang
Like many of these films, there is a large gang behind an international conspiracy. The evil Black Dragon Gang has matching black turtlenecks with shiny jackets and black pants, because the more evil and conspiractory your gang is, the more they have matching uniforms. The boss has shiny pants, which begins to look ridiculous when he’s donning his pantyhose mask disguise. No one starts dancing and snapping and going on about how when you’re a Black Dragon Gang, you’re a Black Dragon Gang all the way; but I’ll still mention the Jets from West Side Story like I do whenever there is a matching uniform gang. Just to show you how much this gang is into Black Dragon Pride, they have their own gang letterhead for letters!
The Dark Heroine Muk Lan-Fa Shattered the Black Dragon Gang
When they aren’t threatening the world, the Black Dragon Gang hangs in their secret base complete with wall of supercomputer and many operators. They have a giant dragon painting in the bar part of their lair. One gang member tosses knives at a dummy of a girl in a bikini. It’s like some sort of weird spy frathouse. At one meeting of the Black Dragons, we see they have a secret leader who speaks to them via a head projection from a screen. This secret boss is never revealed at any point, nor is he mentioned in the sequel. Not that we’re going to try and close loose ends here…but we made up a theory that we’ll present at the end of the review. And TarsTarkas.NET declares it canon. Because we can do that. Because we have a cannon.
The Dark Heroine Muk Lan-Fa Shattered the Black Dragon Gang

Muk Lan-Fa (Suet Nei) – Dark Heroine is darker and more heroine than ever! In the previous film she had a gimmick gun that was a switchblade, this time her gimmick gun has knockout gas like she’s the Green Hornet. But unlike The Green Hornet, her film is good!
Muk Sau-Jan (Law Oi-Seung) – The li’l Dark Heroine is also back as her role of Robin to the Dark Knight. Although more on camera in this film, she does less and doesn’t even get kidnapped!
Ko Cheung (Kenneth Tsang Kong) – Supercop Ko Cheung is also around to be the cop who should be shot dead a thousand times over with all the ridiculous stunts he pulls.
Bald Gang Leader(Lee Ying) – The local leader of the Black Dragon Gang, who often wears an overly-padded suit and a pantyhose mask as a disguise. Despite the fact that disguises nothing and he often is seen by the same people seconds before not wearing the disguise. Lee Ying appeared in at least 130 films, including the greatest film ever made, Fantasy Mission Force!
Eyepatch (David Chow Wing-Kwong) – I never caught this guy’s name, but David Chow Wing-Kwong is in all three Dark Heroine films as a goon (not uncommon), but in this film he loses an eye halfway through, causing him to wear an eyepatch for the rest of the movie. And in the third film, he shows up wearing an eyepatch! Thus, we’ve declared him the same character in all three movies. This is now Dark Heroine canon, as per our cannon pointed at anyone who disagrees. David Chow Wing-Kwong went on to be a very prolific lighting guy.

The Dark Heroine Muk Lan-Fa Shattered the Black Dragon Gang
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The Dark Heroine Muk Lan-Fa (Review)

The Dark Heroine Muk Lan-Fa

aka The Dark Heroine Mu Lanhua aka 女黑俠木蘭花

1966HKMDB Link
Directed by Law Chi
Written by Lau Ling-Fung

The Dark Heroine Muk Lan-fa is a pulp heroine who appeared in a series of novels by Ni Kuang and three films in the 1960s. The Dark Heroine films are examples of the Jane Bond genre, a type of film we are big fans of here at TarsTarkas.NET. For our newer readers, the Jane Bond films were a type of film that appeared in 1966 until around 1969 which were heavily influenced by James Bond, and featured female crimefighters or criminal heroes who take down gangs and international conspiracies while wearing hip clothes and always

How much is cribbed from the Black Rose films? A lot. Of course, even those aren’t original, the female crimefigher motif is common in Hong Kong and Chinese film, dating back even before film to Cantonese Opera, having many instances in literature, and continuing to the girls with guns films in modern cinema. The Jane Bond trappings were just the latest iteration. As for the Dark Heroine herself, Muk Lan-Fa and her sister Muk San-Jau team up to fight evil gangs and rob from the evil. Muk Lan-Fa’s name is derived from that of Hua Mulan, and she is the star of the series, hence her name in the titles.

Ni Kuang (倪匡 aka Ngai Hong aka I Kuang aka Yi Kuang) has written literally hundreds of films and novels that films were based on, if you are someone reading this site than you’re more familiar with his work than you probably realize. Notable characters created by Ni Kuang include Chen Zhen (from Fist of Fury), Wai See-lei (Wisely), Yuen Tsang-hop (Dr. Yuen) and the One-Armed Swordsman (with Chang Cheh). I believe there are 60 Dark Heroine books in the complete series. Here is a gallery of some of the awesome pulp covers the books used to have. But they were later reprinted at some point with less spectacular covers, and you can order them on your Chinese eReaders if you read Chinese and want to Google that info yourself.

Later the characters were used for a TV series in the 1980s on TVB Limited starring Angie Chiu and Sharen Yeung. The sisters were given a background of ninja training, though I am not sure if that is the official story for their martial arts or was invented for the series. Hello opening credits! The Dark Heroine Muk Laf-fa later inspired The Heroic Trio films.

Director Law Chi was active in the 60s and 70s. He helmed all three Dark Heroine flicks, along with a few other spy/Jane Bond type films (Lady With a Cat’s Eyes (1967) and The Big Chase (1966)) and some wuxia flicks. His output dropped by the beginning of the 1980s, though he did manage to direct Haunted House Elf somehow. Writer Lau Ling-Fung didn’t seem to have much of a career outside of these three Dark Heroine films, either. Action directors Liu Chia-Liang and Tong Gai would go on to earn acclaim at Shaw, and Tong Gai even scored Suet Nei’s hand in marriage.

Things get pretty confusing at times, as the plot will zigzag all over before it reaches the logical next step. And as a bonus, these lovely vcds come equipped with no subtitles. But at TarsTarkas.NET, we don’t need no stinking subtitles!

The plot to get some sort of weapon, and there is espionage and spy rings involved. The spy rings are run so terribly that random people can just wander into the meetings and become embroiled in the world of secret light weapons and boat gunbattles. And one last thing before we start, for the transitions between scenes, instead of starwipes, this film has explosionwipes! That’s brilliantly awesometacular!

Muk Lan-Fa (Suet Nei) – Our Dark Heroine, the elder Muk sister who runs amok defeating evil dudes, robbing from the rich and giving to the poor, and defending Hong Kong from gigantic gangs of thugs. And she dresses keenly even when she’s dressed in all black. Her Dark Heroine gear has plenty of spy tricks built in.
Muk Sau-Jan (Law Oi-Seung) – The younger Muk sister, who helps gather intelligence and back up her big sis. Not averse to storming into a room with two guns and blasting bad guys away. She had two guns before two guns was cool!
Ko Cheung (Kenneth Tsang Kong) – Ko Cheung keeps popping up whenever there’s trouble. Is he good? Is he bad? Will this mystery man ever score a date with Muk Lan-Fa?
Mom (Yung Yuk-Yi) – Single mother of Muk Lan-Fa and Muk Sau-Jan. Spends most of the film being threatened, kidnapped, or injured. By the sequels, she’s either permanently kidnapped, dead, or the sisters hid her away in a home so she wouldn’t be kidnapped all the time, as she’s ain’t in them.
Inspector Chan (Sek Kin) – Sek Kin….as a corrupt cop??! Of course Inspector Chan is a bad dude! You don’t get a choice when Sek Kin plays you… Sek Kin has made numerous appearances on TarsTarkas.NET: How the Ape Girl Stole the Lotus Lamp, The Furious Buddha’s Palm, Midnight Angel, and Lady Black Cat.
Ho Tin Hung aka Bald Bad Guy (Tang Ti) – A bad guy who is sort of working for Chan, but also doing his own thing. But that doesn’t work out too well when he gets killed. I wrote the entire review with him named Bald Bad Guy, so that’s what’s staying even if I found out his real name right before publishing this.

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