Teddy Girls

Teddy Girls

aka 飛女正傳 aka Fei nu zheng zhuan

Written by Patrick Lung Kong and Lam Nin-Tung
Directed by Patrick Lung Kong

Teddy Girls
Patrick Lung Kong’s work is not mainstream pop cinema. It is instead cinema touching on social and economic problems not touched by most films, and the few times the topics are, it’s clearly in the realm of exploitation cinema. The approach to the subject matter is more mature than much of the Hong Kong cinema of the time. While there were plenty of dramas involving family issues, the issues tackled in Teddy Girls trend more serious, and show more of societies effects on the problems, both on how they’re caused and by what they do to the people trapped in them. These are common themes in Patrick Lung Kong’s work.
Teddy Girls
What makes Patrick Lung Kong’s films stand out from other dramas is the strength to tackle difficult and controversial issues in a mature manner and still tell a good and entertaining story. Both as a writer and a director, Lung worked to better Hong Kong film at the same time Hong Kong cinema was suffering from a decline. Mandarin-language Shaw Brothers flicks outperformed and outclassed local Hong Kong productions, and the highly respected Union Film had shuttered its doors.

His directorial debut was in 1966 with Prince of Broadcasters, which foresaw the influence of radio in Hong Kong and became a hit at the box office. He followed that up with what is arguably his most famous and influential film, The Story of a Discharged Prisoner (1967), a tale about a former prisoner desperately trying to not get sucked back into a life of crime. It had a direct influence on John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow. Woo also must have seen (and borrowed from) Lung’s next film Window (1968), which features a blind woman and a criminal who fall in love. Next up was a look at youth culture with Teddy Girls, the film we will discuss at length below. Yesterday Today Tomorrow (1970), about a plague affecting Hong Kong, caused controversy, the heavily censored version failed at the box office. He continued on with My Beloved (1971) and the domestic drama Pei Shih (1972).
Teddy Girls
Lung dealt with social issues at large with Hong Kong Nite Life (1973) and then The Call Girls (1973), which featured the stories of five prostitutes. Lung Kong tackled the issue of nuclear disarmament before it was even on people’s radar with Hiroshima 28 (1974), and followed up with the quickly made Mitra (1976), filmed in Iran while he was showing Hiroshima 28 at a film festival. 1976 also saw the release of the sci-fi influenced Laugh In (1976) and Lina (1976). His final film was 1979’s The Fairy, the Ghost and Ah Chung, though he continued to be active in the Hong Kong cinema world through the turn of the century. His films went on to inspire the Hong Kong New Wave directors as they helped reshape Hong Kong cinema.

Most of Lung Kong’s films are hard to find in general, and with English subtitles they are exceedingly rare. Despite a HKFA retrospective his material still remains hard to find for the true Hong Kong cinema connoisseur.

Lung was not afraid to create serious films that tackled social issues in a non-exploitative manner. Patrick Lung Kong became one of the most influential directors in Hong Kong cinema due to how he helmed films like Teddy Girls. His attempts to escape the boundaries and touch on subjects usually avoided stand out sharper now, especially with the ease of availability of the other older films, you can see just how fluff a lot of them were.
Teddy Girls
What other director of the time could do a teenage girls in prison film and not make it feel dirty in the slightest, but still fill it with believable and sympathetic characters, humor and tragedy? Characters who suffer all types of bad influences while growing up, rebelling for their own reasons, reaching further tragedy due to the consequences of their original actions. These aren’t bad girls who are bad, these are girls who had the entire deck stacked against them. It’s no wonder some of them just fold and give up. Teddy Girls is never so cruel as when is is making you think things just might be all right for once.

Josephine’s character is running, running from an unhappy home life and disintegration of everything she knew. Her father’s decay and death while her mother found comfort in a new man, a man who is obviously a sleazy parasite.
Teddy Girls
Of the stories of the girls, Josephine’s is the most avoidable, she seems to be acting out more of simple teenage rebellion. But she becomes part of a system that is bigger than her, and life is a cruel thing at times. Josephine’s downfall is the biggest as she has the longest way to fall. Her character seems to have it all, but she lacks the one thing she craves, and she cannot stand it. Her life becomes destroyed, and her rage focused on a single target, the man she blames for ruining everything. And he’s not innocent, his motivations are scuzzy and he leaves Josephine’s mom in ruin.

Josephine is swept up in revenge, but she becomes her own victim, by acting out rashly and destructively. Not only does she destroy her life, she brings downfall on others. Misery is spread, the only lesson is how many ways this could have been avoided, by many people.

The only real drawback is the moral message at the end literally given by Kenneth Tsang Kong as the mouthpiece to one of the young ladies, bringing to mind flicks like Reefer Madness where a character will suddenly address the audience from behind a desk.
Teddy Girls

Josephine Hsu Yu-ching (Josephine Siao Fong-Fong) – Troubled young lady furious at her mother disrespecting her dying father by hooking up with a scumbag and then ignoring her. Causes trouble and volunteers to go to lockup, but things don’t get better.
Hsu Mei (Teresa Ha Ping) – Josephine’s mother who falls for a scumbag and then things go from bad to worse as she neglects everything including her daughter and her business’s finances.
Li Chang (Patrick Lung Kong) – Hey, it’s that scumbag I mentioned in the last two entries! Li Chang is dating Hsu Mei because she has all this sweet sweet money he can use to live the high life and drop her when she’s all used up. Josephine is not too happy about that…
Ma Pi-shan (Nancy Sit Ka-Yin) – Troubled reform school girl from a broken home life, she’s doomed from the start and things just get worse and worse.
Do Shu-yan/Mr. Rector (Kenneth Tsang Kong) – Do Shu-yan is the head of the reform school and is called Mr. Rector by the students. Cares for the girls but is forced to accept reality that many of them come from desperate situations and things can easily spiral out of control.
Li Shu-chun (Yip Ching) – Girl in detention who comes from a poor family with too many children and no money to take care of her siblings. Escapes to try to help her family.
Yang Shiao-chiao (Lydia Shum Tin-Ha) – Girl in juvie who’s a funny thief, uses her personality to befriend all of the girls but doesn’t cross the line into dangerous behavior.
Chen Li-fan (Mang Lee) – Lockup girl who talks obsessively about her boyfriend, but everyone notices that her boyfriend doesn’t come around any more. Breaks out to find out what the heck. The results are…killer! Listed as “Sussie Huang” on HKMDB though that’s not her name in these subtitles.

Teddy Girls
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Sword of Emei (Review)

Sword of Emei

aka 峨嵋霸刀 aka E Mei ba dao

Written by Wan Hoi-Ching and Ling Hon
Directed by Chan Lit-Ban

A Cantonese swordplay flick featuring a masked heroine, plenty of swordplay, piles of bodies, and one of the fastest paces I’ve seen in a Cantonese language feature from this time. Sword of Emei was a great surprise and a highly recommended action film. By 1969, the rails were starting to come off of the Hong Kong film insdustry, as pressure from the far superior Shaw Studios was making the local productions look like child plays. One way the industry tried to take up the slack was to push for some more adultish wuxia flicks, thus what would have probably been a slower female sworswoman (nuxia) film with a lot of gabbing in 1966 suddenly is a fast-paced action bonanza focused on one of the hot female leads of the time. And while it isn’t one of the Jane Bond flicks of the era, it does feature some of the plot tropes transplanted back to older China, along with the standard wuxia ideas like super swords and being noble bandits.

The main reason why this is so enjoyable is the pacing, so let’s give a hooray to action directors Han Ying-Chieh and Leung Siu-Chung for coming up with modern action film pacing 40 years ago! Sure, with the vast amount of action going on vs the probably minuscule shooting schedule, the action isn’t complex, and most characters get killed in a slash or two, but there is a ton of it and it makes up for the complex swordfighting that was still in its infancy at the time.

Sword of Emei was originally filmed in color, but the only released version I could find was a black and white vcd with a beat up print and burnt in subs (subtitles are rare on a lot of these films, so I’ll take what I can get!) thus explaining these blurry, blown up screencaps I have for you. According to the cast listings, there is an attempt to give some cross-national appeal with Mitr Chaibancha! Except I couldn’t spot him and didn’t even know he was supposed to be in this film until after it was over. Oops! Sammo Hung Kam-Bo is also somewhere among the many men slaughtered, but with all the carnage, he could be Guard #3 or Guard #343! So instead, let’s focus on the cast we know:

Masked Mau (Josephine Siao Fong-Fong) – Masked Mau is also called Masked Hero in the subtitles. She’s the mysterious thief giving people fits and also dispensing justice from the end of a blade…a Chin Fang Sword blade, which is like the best sword blade ever! No one knows who she is or that’s she’s even a she! Who could she be…
Lo Fang-ying (Josephine Siao Fong-Fong) – orphan raised by relatives who own an inn. Her Uncle Ma taught her to hunt, shoot, and swordfight, which she totally doesn’t use as skills when dressed up as a masked thief who goes all Robin Hood on villains. Nope!
Au King (Kenneth Tsang Kong) – Mystery swords guy who comes into town just in time to catch Masked Mau, but he actually falls for her and Lo Fang-ying, which we knew would happen because he’s the only available guy in the film who isn’t instantly killed!
Lord Chao Pai-tien (Sek Kin) – Jerk who acts like a jerk because his brother-in-law is the evil emperor. Terrorizes the land and the people, and totally hits on all the young ladies. But don’t tell him he does that, because he hates facts as well.
Uncle Ma (Ling Mung) – Fang-ying’s uncle who has raised her since her parents were murdered by Lord Chao. Taught her the fighting skills she uses to slaughter hundreds of people.
Aunt Ma (Yung Yuk-Yi) – Fang-ying’s aunt who isn’t too keen on all this heroine business until she decides to pick up a sword and kill people as well. And she’s good at it. Which means she had combat training also and probably killed lots of dudes…
Hsiao Lan (Sum Chi-Wah) – Constantly endangered girl who made the mistake of being attractive in an area where Lord Chao wants all hot babes chained to his bed. Wears a hairstyle that looks like she’s sporting a mickey mouse hat at certain angles.

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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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