Lethal Angels (Review)

Lethal Angels

aka Mor gwai tin si

Directed and written by Wai-Man Cheng

Hong Kong used to have some of the best action films in the world. Than the bottom fell out of the industry, due to several factors (a rash of bad films, talent leak to the US, influx of flash over substance, etc.) and terrible junk began streaming from Hong Kong like diarrhea from a sick newborn. The problem was compounded due to the rise of South Korea as a cinematic powerhouse about the same time. Still, Hong Kong kept coming out with horrid junk such as Naked Weapon and soon their films became irrelevant. But then as few good films such as Infernal Affairs and Shaolin Soccer caught on in the US. Inspired, a few films from Hong Kong dared to increase in quality. There was still plenty of junk, but now the junk flew less freely, and moments of actual good filmmaking crept in. Still, moments of weakness are rampant, and films like this thrive in those moments. An unmemorable action thriller in the same veins as Naked Killer and Naked Weapon, Lethal Angels even was tentatively titled Naked Avengers and at one point. It now sports a title that is a throwback to earlier female action films, back when they all had “Angel” in the title. Yet they all look like action masterpieces compared to this dreck (and some of them were action masterpieces, but that’s another article.)

Problems abound in Lethal Angels. From uncharismatic characters to lethargic action sequences, the excitement never seems to get going, stalled like my car’s engine in -30 degree weather. Even the gunplay gets dull, and the CG muzzle flashes are obviously fake and very distracting. Never try to make an action sequence where cartoons get plastered all over it at random. That’s your tip of the day. Female action is supposed to be sexy and exciting, not dull. How can you make it dull? And yet, time and time again, I encounter films that can’t put together an exciting action sequence to save their lives. This movie is DOA, watching it is lethal and you will become an angel.

Yoyo/Mango (Tin Sum as Tien Hsin) – Our heroine and female assassin is a mild-mannered girl who one day saw her entire family killed by the Triads after they found out she was going to watch Hitchcock’s Notorious and/or her dad was going to testify against them. After being saved by Winnie, joins the assassin squad until she runs into her former boyfriend, who is now a cop. So she turns good. Tien Hsin is probably best known over here for her minor role in The Duel, and with her making movies like this, that will be all she’s known for.
Winnie (Jewel Lee as Jewel Li Fei) – Madam Winnie is are archetype female assassin trainer who is a former assassin herself. She’s brought to life here by Jewel Lee, who played the role of one of the female assassins in Naked Weapon. The circle is now complete, the student is the teacher.
Emma (Cherrie Ying Choi-Yi as Cherrie In) – Her character has zero motivation, we know little to nothing about her or why she suddenly turns on her master. Yet she does, and also inexplicably winds up with Big Guts. Her character is deadly with a shovel, she must have worked at the Shaolin Temple as a gravedigger. Cherrie In has been in a lot of films the past few years. I’d list some but then I’d just steal the joy from those who like to Google. Okay, fine, Election and Rob-B-Hood.
Dora (Viva Wei as Wei Hua) – Her name is Dora, but she’s no explorer, she’s a crazy killer who will rip out your guts and hit a 9.5 on the Orgasm Scale while doing it. Don’t mess with this woman unless you like breathing through holes in your neck. Killed by a hail of cops bullets.
Macy (Meme Tian Pu-Jun) – The other evil girl also gets little back story, except how she was turned out by the evil Triad Big Eyes. She also is killed because she’s evil and they never win. Is never seen shopping at Macy*s.
Big Guts aka Darren (Jordan Chan Siu-Chun) – Veteran cop who is a big braggart. Ends up with Emma because sometimes you just gotta write a bad script. Jordan Chan is famous for the Young and Dangerous movies, and he was also in Haunted Office
Jet (Andy On Chi-Kit) – Young cop who knew Mango/YoYo before she became an assassin. Is single-handedly responsible for a Hitchcock film running for thirty years straight in Hong Kong due to all the girlfriends he takes. Can’t dance. Can’t play basketball. The only thing about him is the way he walks.

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