There appear to be no words in Taiwanese for “short, controlled bursts.”
This 1989 film from Taiwan, swings unevenly between some rather good action, wild stabs at comedy that isn’t as funny as it thinks, and one of the screechiest and least appealing single-note performances, this side of an Adam Sandler movie. Now, I’m not going to able to attribute specific blame for the latter, because it was tough enough finding names for the cast here, let alone associate them with particular characters. The only one I think I recognized was Hu, playing the officer in charge of a new “women’s department,” which is given all the female cops with whom none of their chauvinist colleagues want to work, and who is tasked with trying to forge them into a coherent force. You have the usual mix of “wacky” characters: the taciturn hard-case, the foreign girl (Singapore in this case), and worst of all, the whiny, bespectacled bitch who think she’s the bee’s knees, but is, in fact, completely useless.
I defy anyone to get through five minutes of her scenes, without wanting to reach through the TV and warmly greet her by the throat, to stop her high-pitched shrieking and manic over-acting. Actually, scratch that, since any use of the word “acting” in connection with this performance is entirely inappropriate: she just flails her arms around and pulls faces, in lieu of attempting to convey even the shallowest of emotions. That’s a shame, as there are some elements of this which are perfectly competent, though the script has no surprises, and indeed, doesn’t bother much with a genuine storyline. One second, the girls are going undercover at a nightclub to break up an arms deal (where we learn the ‘fact’ at the top of the review). The next, they’re investigating a gang of robbers who specialize in leaving no witnesses alive, but a torn-off button leaves one woman believing she knows the identity of a gang member.
Still, I’m prepared to forgive the narrative disconnects, because the action isn’t bad. Nothing amazing, mind, but it helps that the director films it well – in particular, finding a good middle-ground of distance, so you aren’t overwhelmed, yet can still tell it’s mostly the actual actresses who are being flung around. Some of the early judo stuff is good, and the final battle against the robbers is also memorable, ending in a giant fireball which seems to come perilously close to toasting the leads, in the same way Devil Hunters would actually do the following year. Admittedly, if the shrieking harridan had turned into a human marshmallow, I’m not sure I’d have shed a tear, and there’s just too much sub-Police Academy slack in the middle, with poor comedy and worse romance occupying far too high a percentage of the running time.
Dir: Lee Tso-Nam
Star: Sibelle Hu, Yip Chuen-Chan, Kau Hoi-Ching, Alexander Lo