Black Cat 2: The Assassination of President Yeltsin

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blackcat2While neither Nikita nor The Assassin ever resulted in a sequel, the success of Black Cat lead, immediately to a follow-up. This is both good, in that it forced D&B Films into coming up with some new concepts, and bad, because what they came up with is a barely coherent mess. They take Leung – who had won the ‘Best Newcomer’ award – and give her a role where she gets to speak twice. The real star is Robin Shou, well before his Mortal Kombat days, and with a much better haircut too.

He plays a CIA operative – the laserdisk subs say this stands for Central Intelligent Agency, clearly dating this before 9/11 – who is investigating a group out to assassinate President Yeltsin. Their chosen hitman has been beefed up with some kind of ill-explained technological wizardry, but luckily, one person can detect the radiation he gives off: Black Cat, who now has a chip in her head (to match the one on her shoulder, hohoho). This leads to an amusing sequence where Black Cat heads off on her own, charges into a mall, and shoots an old lady because – wouldn’t you know it? – the senior citizen just happens to be giving off the same kind of radiation, courtesy of her medical treatment. Well, I found it amusing, anyway; there’s something about a head-shot which spatters the face of a nearby clown with copious amounts of blood. Er, just me, then? :-)

¬†Okay, the movie may never be dull, and is certainly not short on action. Yet it doesn’t make any sense. Why would the CIA send operatives into Russia to save their president? And what are they doing operating in America? Isn’t that illegal? Oh, I forgot – it’s the CIA we’re talking about here. Leung’s robotic performance – even though entirely appropriate, since she now comes with an remote-control off switch – also feels like a terrible waste of her talents. There’s a lot of wire-work in the action sequences, but it’s not badly done; the highlight is probably a fight in a steel-works where both Robin and Jade have to take on large numbers of adversaries. The final battle, when Black Cat fights the assassin around the wreckage of a crashed plane, is cool too, with the two antagonists bouncing off the debris.

However, the overall impact is bitty and sporadic. While there are some nice ideas, they are poorly thought-out and developed, and the script doesn’t meld them into any kind of satisfactory structure. The action sequences feel equally bolted-on, though I did like the use of a President Yeltsin lookalike (at least, one presumes it was a lookalike, though I recall the real ex-President Gorbachev did appear in a Wim Wenders film). After the critical acclaim that greeted her debut, Jade Leung could have turned her skills in any direction; unfortunately, this disappointing follow-up is largely symptomatic of the poor choices that seem to have dogged her subsequent career.

Dir: Stephen Shin
Stars: Robin Shou, Jade Leung, Zoltan Buday, Patrick Stark

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