[adrotate banner=”1″]The trailer for Legendary Amazons (杨门女将之军令如山) is here! Looks like most generic giant Chinese battle epics, though. But, every time Cecilia reacts, her hair goes flying up in the air! Red Cliff don’t got that!
[adrotate banner=”1″]Legendary Amazons (杨门女将之军令如山 AKA Lady Generals of the Yang Family) is an upcoming Frankie Chan Fan-Kei film about the real life story of the Yang family women generals, who took up fighting after the men in their family were slaughtered (some info here) Jackie Chan produces. This is a retelling of the same story from the Shaw Brothers classic 14 Amazons, and a 1960 film Women Generals of the Yang Family, plus probably others and several Peking Operas and tv series. If it is half as good as these awesome posters, it will be awesome.
Kathy Chow Hoi-Mei
Yukari Oshima (!!!)
Simon Yam Tat-Wah
aka Tian shi xing dong aka Fighting Madam aka Iron Angels aka Midnight Angels
1987 Directed by Raymond Leung Pun-Hei, Tony Leung Siu-Hung, and Ivan Lai Gai-Ming
Written by Teresa Woo
Angels has quite a laundry list of names. It is known in the UK as Iron Angels (as are the sequels), and the UK suffers from having a cut version of the film. Other names it has been released as include Fighting Madam, Midnight Angels, and the singular Angel.
Angels stands out from many of it’s imitators in several ways. One of the most noticeable is the fun montages set to music, complete with a bunch of quick cuts, that instantly introduce us to characters and tones. Moon Lee’s first appearance in the office is spectacular, showing her attempts to have fun and fit in with the office and work, but she still has to deal with an awful boss and is so eager to run off to shoot people she can’t wait. But those sequences aren’t as common as they should be, and with three directors running around, the film can’t become as good as it should be. That doesn’t mean it is bad or boring, just that there are brief moments of brilliance that are stifled by above averageness. If I could harness the power of wasted potential in the movies I watch, the world would never want for energy.
We know Yukari Oshima’s Madam Sue is evil because she’ll kill her coworkers to prove her point, and even kills her boss after he keeps her from getting her vision of revenge against the police force. Madam Sue laughs hysterically as cops are tortured in front of her, stopping only to lick off some blood that splatters on her. She’s having fun being the top dog of the underworld, switching cars, mocking the police who are chasing after her, even being sexually aggressive towards the DEA Agent Bill. Yukari is rarely presented as sexual in her films, and here she’s in a bathing suit, is sexually aggressive, and even has some body double nudity. Oshima embraces this role fully, and it’s among her best roles. It is a rare villain indeed that can keep up with just how evil and amoral she is.
So this version of Angels is a composite widescreen made from two different versions of the films, one edited for violence and one edited for nudity. So our copy is edited for nothing! The only drawback is it is still dubbed into English. But when a composite copy of Angels mysteriously ends up in your hands due to magic grouch fairies, you don’t look them in the mouth.
Kenji (Saijo Hideki) – Angel #1. Kenji lives in Japan and teaches martial arts when he isn’t working for the Iron Angels. Alex is his name in subtitle land.
Mona (Moon Lee Choi-Fung) – Angel #2. Mona is a bored office worker who would rather be taking down bad guys. Luckily, she works for the Iron Angels so she gets her wish! Moon is her name in subtitle land. Moon Lee can also be seen in Fatal Termination and Tomb Raiders/Avenging Quartet
Helen (Elaine Lui Siu-Ling) – Angel #3. Helen is very man hungry and must flirt with anything with a Y-chromosome near her. She works best being the center of attention and distracting the enemy, but isn’t afraid to go in with guns blazing. Helen’s dubby is a voice you probably will recognize in many Kung Fu films and from Pod People Elaine is her name in subtitle land. Elaine Lui also shows up in Red Wolf as a terrorist, but she was not very comfortable with all the action roles she kept getting as a result of this film.
John King (David Chiang Da-Wei) – Head of the Iron Angels, so I guess he’s like Charlie. Not afraid to join in on some of the smaller action like meeting with gang leaders, but usually is back at the base controlling things. Additional Iron Angels team members include driver Ha-Cheng and secretary Kitty. John Keung is his name in subtitle land.
Bill Fong DEA (Alex Fong Chung-Sun) – DEA agent who hires the Iron Angels to help the Hong Kong police and also help keep down the drug trade. Has an adversarial relationship with Helen despite both of them secretly having feelings for each other. Likes to hide weapons and gadgets in his shoes.
Madam Sue (Yukari Oshima) – Evil evil evil evil evil. Yukari Oshima gives the performance of her career in an awesome, over the top and then some evil gang leader who laughs her way through revenge, torture, murder, and theft of anyone and anything that gets in her way. Eventually her gang is brought down by the Iron Angels, because, why not? Madame Yeung is her name in subtitle land. Yukari Oshima is also on TarsTarkas.NET in Tomb Raiders/Avenging Quartet, Angel’s Mission, Deadly Target, Godfather’s Daughter, and Midnight Angel.
1990 Directed by Jonathan Chik Gei-Yee
Written by Abe Kwong Man-Wai
Masked female crimefighters used to populate Cantonese cinema like the buffalo used to inhabit the Great Plains. Then all the buffalo got shot, and all the female crimefighters stopped being popular after the Shaw Brothers helped eclipse Cantonese cinema. But in the late 1980s, Cantonese cinema came roaring back and by the early 90s, there were lots of action films being pumped out. So it only makes sense that there would suddenly be a masked female crimefighter film in the middle of the action fest, as the buffalo have come back. Sure, this analogy is a stretch, but just go with it!
Like many Hong Kong films from the 1990s, Midnight Angel has a billion titles, including Justice Women, Wu ye tian shi, Ng ye tin si, and The Legend of Heroism.
Our copy is an exciting VHS dub, complete with extra darkness and soft images. So don’t complain about the quality, because I’ll just ignore those complaints as that’s how we roll at TarsTarkas.NET.
Ying (Yukari Oshima) – The oldest of three sisters and a cop. Her boyfriend Tak is also a cop, except he gets killed dead by bad dudes. Until it turns out he isn’t, then he is really killed dead. Yukari Oshima can be seen on TarsTarkas.NET in such films as Angel’s Mission, Deadly Target, and Godfather’s Daughter.
Cherry (Angile Leung Wan-Yui) – The middle sister and also a cop. The last of the sisters to become a masked vigilante. Angile Leung was in The Isle of Fantasy, which was my wife’s favorite film back in the day.
Jee aka Rabbit (May Lo Mei-Mei) – The youngest of the three sisters and the only one who is not a cop. Either because she is too young or because she too much of an independent spirit to be a cop. In any event, she instead becomes a costumed vigilante named Cotton Flower.
Grandpa (Shek Kin) – Grandfather who adopted three girls. I am not sure how that makes him Grandpa, but just go with it. Back in the day he was the original Cotton Flower, a secret he shared with only his best friend until his daughters start taking up his legacy. Shek Kin is also on TarsTarkas.NET in How the Ape Girl Stole the Lotus Lamp, The Furious Buddha’s Palm, and Lady Black Cat.
Police chief (Ng Man-Tat) – The chief of police who is getting orders from on high not to go after the gang causing trouble, though he can’t say why. Only notable because he’s Ng Man-Tat.
Inspector Chao (Walter Tso Tat-Wah) – A police inspector who failed to catch the original Cotton Flower, so he vows to catch this new on to regain his honor. Because masked vigilantes stopping wifebeaters is more important than the giant gang also in the city that is offing cops left and right. Walter Tso is also on TarsTarkas.NET in The Furious Buddha’s Palm, and How the Ape Girl Stole the Lotus Lamp.
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.
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.