Queen’s High

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“Nothing like Kill Bill at all – no, really! :-)”

It’s surprising no-one has mentioned the similarity this 1991 pic has to Kill Bill, especially given QT’s liking, both for lifting plots and Hong Kong movies. Here, Cynthia Khan plays Kwanny, the daughter in a gangster family whose wedding day is interrupted by the treacherous slaughter of her intended (and a good few others). Thus explodes a spiral of revenge and betrayal, in which she gets plenty of chance to use her martial arts and gun skills. Of course, there are differences – she is unaware of her enemy within – but the overlap is striking. No doubt Tarantino will claim not to have heard of it – any more than he’d seen City on Fire, before making Reservoir Dogs

On its own merits, Queen’s High stands up nicely, after a sluggish start. You might be wondering how to keep track of a parade of characters, but don’t worry, they won’t last long. The wedding-day slaughter on its own gets it our seal of approval, a masterpiece of slo-mo squibbing that’s in my personal top ten of action heroine sequences, and brings a new meaning to “until death do us part”. It also lets Cynthia Khan, who has her share of acting talent, transform from happy daughter to avenging angel, as during In the Line of Duty 3. The action side finally bursts into life in the final reel, Kwanny taking on a whole warehouse of bad guys, and discovering who ordered the massacre. The film certainly has weaknesses, but such strengths easily make up for them.

Dir: Chris Lee Kin Sang
Star: Cynthia Khan, Simon Yam, Newton Lai, Shum Wai

Punch

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“Girlfight Club”

Topless Female Boxing. There. The reader is paying attention. Yet, if the subject has been covered in a less appealing way than here, I probably don’t want to see it. Indeed, as the toplessness is neither vital to the plot, nor visually pleasing, you wonder why they bothered. The main character here is 18-year old Ariel (Bennett), whose relationship with her father (Riley) is disturbingly close, to the point that she punches his date Mary (Laskowski) for using – entirely aptly – the word “creepy”. This pisses-off Mary’s sister, Julie (McGeachie), an even badder-ass than Ariel, who channels anger into the previously mentioned TFB, with a 38-0 record. She confronts father and daughter, aiming to make them fix their mistake. Viewers will likely eagerly anticipate Ariel getting her ass handed to her by Julie…

I approached with caution, largely because the sleeve invokes Knockout, perhaps the worst boxing movie of all time [see the Trash City review, but don’t confuse with Knockouts]. Luckily, this is closer to Fight Club, not least in terms of violence as social therapy. We really liked Julie, who is entirely comfortable with her aggression, and McGeachie’s stare rivals Michelle Rodriguez for intensity. Generally though, it’s well written and acted; even minor characters such as a barman are fleshed out. The edgy, icky feel is enhanced by Bennett being the director’s daughter, inevitably raising questions about art and life. [I asked Chris what her reaction would be, if I directed a movie with our daughter doing full-frontal nudity. Unsurprisingly, her response involved my testicles and a dull blade.] Canadian, typically off-beat, and a good deal better than expected.

Dir: Guy Bennett
Star: Michael Riley, Sonja Bennett, Meredith McGeachie, Marcia Laskowski

Knock Outs

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“Bad soft-porn, masquerading as martial arts flick.”

Remind me again: why did I get this? Ah, yes: the DVD blurb. “Sam and her sorority sisters love to get in shape by pumping iron. But when a rival sorority tries to take control of their gym, all hell breaks loose… Sam and her sisters challenge the newcomers to a wrestling match… Will our heroines win back their gym? This is a cat-fighting, knock-down comedy you won’t want to miss.” Wrong in every important respect. The plot actually sees Sam (Chanel) lose $2000 in tuition money; her and her housemates shoot a calendar to raise funds but, needing cash to print it, enter a challenge at a local gym, where they must fight the local champions.

That only occupies the last 20 minutes, and is really nothing special; the rest is mostly jiggling titties. Should have guessed, given Bowen is the real name of porn director John T. Bone. I hoped for something luridly exploitational (Naked Killer) or at least amusing (Witchcraft X), but this is neither. Nor is it, for the vast majority of the time, erotic or interesting. There is potential; the photographers simultaneously shoot a video, in order to pay off a gambling debt, but don’t realise Sam is their bookie’s daughter. However, this, and the rivalry between the teams, are tossed aside in favour of interminable sequences like the calendar shooting. Thank heavens for our TV, which let us split the screen and watch the baseball simultaneously.

Dir: John Bowen
Star: Tally Chanel, Brad Zutaut, Leigh Betchley, Sindi Rome