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, 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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