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“Solid action, hampered by limited acting and particularly poor storyline.”

It’s nice to see Hong Kong making a decent action heroine film: that’s really where the genre started off, and it’s been responsible for some of the best entries in the field. That said, this doesn’t quite deserve to be placed on the same level, but star Jiang Lui Xia certainly has her potential – my immediate thought is to put her in the same film as Jeeja Yanin, and we might really have something. [Sidenote: Jiang got her big break as the result of a couple of unusual ways. Viral videos she posted on the Internet, which in turn got her a slot on a reality show called The Disciple in Hong Kong, produced by Jackie Chan. The winner – not her – got to star in a feature.] Much like her Thai colleague, Jiang is clearly a martial artist first, and actress…well, probably fifth or sixth, despite her resemblance to Shin Eun Kyung from My Wife is Gangster. She seems to have three expressions, used in strict rotation, and the plot is frankly implausible nonsense too.

She plays Yi-Yi, the bodyguard of a gangster’s wife; when her charge is kidnapped, Yi-yi starts getting phone messages leading her to various locations. Hoping to redeem herself by rescuing the wife, she follows along, only to discover she is walking into trouble. Turns out the battles which result are being streamed over the web, with bettors wagering on the results. As Yi-Yi’s reputation rises, the sites become more and more popular, and profitable; can she fight her way through, to discover the truth about what’s going on? Yeah, “total bollocks” would be putting it kindly. It is not much more than a flimsy excuse to move the heroine from level to level, until a final confrontation with tae kwon do fighter Kosugi.

Fortunately, the fights are entirely acceptable, with a range of spectacular, if somewhat contrived confrontations – such as the one in a disco, outfitted with a pit containing a shallow pool of water (maybe it’s a standard accessory for Hong Kong discos?). The best is perhaps a kitchen brawl against German Wanja Götz, where just about everything bar the sink comes into play; there’s also one on a set of bamboo scaffolding, which appears to be the current venue of choice in the same way that car parks or Chinese restaurants were in their time. They were nicely put together, and sufficient to keep us watching, despite subtitles on our copy which were a) ten seconds behind the dialogue, and b) in Lolcat font. That we were willing to struggle past this says a lot about the fights, though even they could do nothing to help a particularly lame plot. Still, we’ll be interested to see where Jiang goes from here.

Dir: Xiong Xin Xin
Star: Jiang Lui Xia, Sam Lee, Eddie Cheung, Kane Kosugi

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