Blue Crush

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“Life’s a beach, especially if you want to surf more than the Internet.”

The marketeers screwed up: aimed at teenage girls, our daughter refused to see it, on the grounds – Hollywood, please note – that their bikini tops and bottoms didn’t match in the poster… Anyway: Anne Marie (Bosworth) sees her ticket to stardom in a surf competition on Hawaii’s North Shore. But she has to come to terms with waves bigger than she’s ever faced before; a rebellious kid sister (Boorem); a dreadful job as a hotel maid; and, inevitably, the guy who wants to spend quality time with her on dry land (Davis), while her friend Eden (Rodriguez) tries to keep her focussed on surfing.

We’re firmly behind Eden on this one, since it’s only in the water that the film comes alive. Much credit to cinematographer David Hennings, who does an excellent job of capturing the power and intensity found in the unfettered ocean. The film needs this, as otherwise, there’s not much in the way of conflict – everyone turns out to be nice, even Anne Marie’s rivals in the surfing contest.

As is, it’s not bad, just easily predictable: maybe they should have tossed in a shark, or a giant octopus, or something, simply to spice things up a bit. A slight romance and flashbacks about a bang on the head are well short of realising the potential to be found in the magnificent Pacific setting. While there’s hardly anything new in its painfully obvious storyline, it will certainly inspire new respect, both for the sea, and those who challenge it armed with little more than a plank.

Dir: John Stockwell
Star: Kate Bosworth, Matthew Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Mika Boorem

Pink Force Commando

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“At least they got the title straight. Now, about the plot…”

Pretty much the same cast and crew as GQC [initials used to prevent lengthy debate over exact title] bring you, if anything, an even more surreal adventure. We get footage from the earlier film to introduce the characters, not mentioning that a lot of them died first time round. And what era is this? The original was WW2, but at one point here, a character sails off on a jet-ski. Anyway, our heroines find themselves aligned against the evil swine who betrayed them, whose motley gang includes ninjas, banditos and the KKK. This time, Brigitte Lin is Jackal – at least she gets a new character. Initially with the villain, she sees the light and proves loyalty to her old pals by cutting her own arm off. She then meets “The Heart-Broken Man”, who provides a nifty prosthetic, complete with gun and power-drill attachments.

I am not making any of this up, I swear.

On the plus side, once it actually gets on track with the story, it’s as effective as GQC, with a final battle that’s rousing and well-staged. As before, however, it takes its own sweet time to get there, meandering via betrayal, reunion, more betrayal, amputation, a subplot involving a really big diamond y mucho mucho mas, as they say on Mexican TV adverts. None of this will hold your interest but, hey, if you don’t like this plot, no need to worry, there’ll be another one along in a minute. Chu’s “everything but the kitchen sink” approach can either infuriate or entertain – probably both – but at least Chris stayed awake for this one.

Dir: Chu Yin-Ping
Stars: Brigitte Lin, Elsa Yeung, Sally Yeh, Sylvia Pang

Golden Queens Commando

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“One title for each heroine. And each plot element too, probably.”

I’m going with the title on the print – your opinion may differ. As it likely will for this insane distillation of The Magnificent Seven and The Dirty Dozen, complete with music lifted from both Western and War genres. It certainly isn’t dull: incoherent and dumb, maybe, but you expect that in an early work from the director of Flying Dagger, one of the maddest Asian movies ever. Lin, credited as “Venus”, plays the fetchingly eyepatched Black Fox, who breaks out of jail with six associates, and convinces them to help destroy a chemical weapons plant in occupied Manchuria.

This task occupies only the last ten minutes of the film: the rest covers life in prison, how the women got there, a dumb subplot where the ladies get captured and take part in goofy contests (such as spaghetti-eating) to win their freedom, etc. Calling these “of variable interest” is being very kind, yet when not diverted, the film works well; the heroines, each with different skills, are strong and well-defined. I was able to recount their individual fates the next day to Chris, who’d fallen asleep – in defense, she’d been sinusy and on the Robitussin. But without saying too much, the heroic mortality rate here is higher than in either Magnificent or Dirty

Shame the print is badly cropped: a caption reading “tan Plate” is presumably “Tibetan Plateau”. While the production is often as clumsy as the presentation, it’s one of the first girls-with-guns films to come from Hong Kong, so respect is due. And given sufficient leeway and appropriate expectations, this is stupid fun on its own terms.

Dir: Chu Yin-Ping
Star: Brigitte Lin, Elsa Yeung, Sally Yeh, Sylvia Pang
a.k.a. Amazon Commandos [BRNS.com]
a.k.a. Golden Queen Commando [Alex-in-Wonderland.com]
a.k.a. Golden Queen’s Commando [IMDB.com]
a.k.a. Golden Queen’s Commandos [HKMDB.com]
a.k.a. Jackie Chan’s Crime Force [Arena Video title]
a.k.a. Seven Black Heroines [BrigitteLin.com]