Beauty Investigator

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“Beauties and the beasts.”

beautyinvestigatorEllen (Lee) and Grace (Kim) are police officers, who are first on to arrive when the latest victim of a serial sexual predator is found in a dumpster. After a brief diversion to catch a purse snatcher – really, how dumb must you be to do that at a murder scene? – they are sent undercover as nightclub hostesses, since that’s the profession of all the victims. While fending off both lecherous customers and employers, they stumble across an arms smuggling outfit, whose leader Bill (Tsui) has pulled a fast one over his Yakuza partners, with the help of a hired hitwoman (Oshima, whose character in the end credits is named as, I kid you not, “Japanese Jap”!). Rather than letting their superiors know, they decided to investigate themselves. Probably not the wisest of moves: as they’ll discover by the end of the movie, discretion is indeed the better part of valour…

Very quickly, the bar for this one is set low, with the creators’ idea of comedy gold being to have Grace throw up over the corpse on seeing it: oh, hold my sides, for I fear they may split. If you’d be thinking the only way to go from there is up, the next hour seems to take a sadistic pleasure in proving otherwise, with Ellen and Grace doing the “mismatched cop” thing, which was already about 20 years past its sell-by date, when this came out in 1993. Then, with about 20 minutes to go, the film inexplicably takes a far darker turn (especially considering how lightly the previous carnage has been played), with the mission become one of personal revenge rather than law enforcement. In cinematic terms, it’s like putting a sprig of parsley on a cow-pat, and calling it a salad: I was left wondering if someone had sloppily spliced on the final reel of an entirely different movie.

The only redeeming aspect – and even this falls well short of making it recommendable – is the action, which is quite frequent and high in intensity. Lee and Oshima are both in fine form, and watching the pair of them go toe-to-toe with each other is a joy, as always: that’s particularly so for the end battle, in which all the previously mentioned participants are involved, along with Sophia Crawford, who plays the villain’s mistress (she also takes an entirely gratuitous shower in some versions of the film). However, the truth is, you can see Lee and Oshima in any number of other movies, without having to endure the feeble efforts at buddy comedy attempted here. And you’d be well advised to do just that.

Dir: Tso Nam Lee
Star: Moon Lee, Kim Je Kee, Tsui Zen Aie, Yukari Oshima

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