“Bruce rolls over from beyond the grave.”
Four years after Bruce Lee’s death, and film-makers were still trying to fool moviegoers into believing their product had some connection to kung-fu’s first global star. Not sure where the deception occurred, as the print here simply overlays the new title over the (still-legible) Hong Kong one, Five Pretty Young Ladies. You really need to combine the two for any genuine accuracy: Five Pretty Kung Fu Girls, would be about right. The five are visiting Hong Kong, where their “uncle” (it’s not clear if this is a genuine relation, or just an honorific title) is a police superintendent. While at a swimming pool, they bump into a guy being pursued by a gang, and take care of the pursuers. Turns out they wanted to get their hands on a formula he had developed. Might there be some connection between this and the invisible thief who is wreaking havoc in the colony? And could the unseen one be planning to steal a moon rock, newly arrived as the centerpiece of an exhibition?
Oh, who am I trying to kid. The answer is, of course, yes to both, and the film doesn’t have any surprises to speak of. What it does have – and this is close to falling into the “only saving grace” category – is Polly Kwan as the head of the group. She’s easily the most talented in terms of fighting, and the makers know it, giving her the bulk of the action. This she handles with grace and flexibility, kicking her way out of trouble, regardless of the number of opponents. Beyond these scenes, there’s a lot of other stuff which drag proceedings to a grinding halt, such as the camping trip, climaxing with what’s probably the worst fake guitar-playing in cinema history. However, there is some entertainment value to be had from things like the matching black hot-pant uniforms worn by the girls on moon-rock guard duty, and the film’s ending teaches us a valuable lesson: when you have strapped a belt of dynamite around your waist, it’s probably best if you try not to fall over.
It is all, clearly, nonsense, with little or no effort made to differentiate the four pretty young ladies that aren’t Polly – one of them has pigtails and pouts a bit, that’s about the extent of it. But I’ve seen less entertaining nonsense, and when Kwan goes into action, becomes worth watching to a high enough degree, as to justify its existence. Unfortunately, all available prints are horribly cropped, which certainly affects the experience: truly a case where seeing more of the lead actress would be a help.
Dir: Shut Dik
Star: Polly Shang Kwan, Lui Ming, Wong Lan, Yeung San-San
a.k.a. Five Pretty Young Ladies