“…and lots of boy fighters.”
Suma Moyung (Kwan) rides into town, offering to rid the locals of a pesky warlord’s son, who is making a nuisance of himself, not least by being a bit rapey. After proving herself by slicing off the shoe-tips of the local police force (!), Suma is given the job, and proceeds to deliver, capturing the scion and bringing him back to face justice. Except, that’s only the start of the problem, because his father is none too happy with Suma, and unleashes his forces to rescue his son, by any means necessary. That covers bribery, threats and then full-on violence as it becomes clear Suma will not be easily cowed. Fortunately, she has help, in the shape of a man (Tien) who lost his entire family to the man she is now guarding. And she’ll need all the assistance she can get, if she’s successfully to transport her captive through the countryside to the state capitol, under siege from the warlord’s forces just about every step of the way.
As that summary perhaps implies, there’s certainly no shortage of action here, with a new fight sequence popping up almost every five minutes. The main problem is that titling your film A Girl Fighter does create certain expectations in your audience – among which would be, that your heroine will be depicted as the most prolific and/or the best martial artist in the movie. Neither are true, with Tien doing most of the heavy lifting for the good guys, against an apparently endless stream of minions in small groups (if the warlord ever actually committed to rescuing his son, he’d easily have the numbers to overpower the hero and heroine!). While not exactly missing in action, too often Suma is reduced to a supporting role, or worse still, left in a situation where she needs the help of her colleague. That’s a shame: while Kwan’s style is a little too theatrical for my tastes (all her punches and kicks appear to start from the next time-zone over), it’s also graceful and flowing, especially impressive when the moves are combined into an extended sequence.
However, the overall sense is of a film more interested in the volume of action, than doing anything particularly new or interesting with it. It seems particularly old-fashioned, considering that this came out the same year (1972) as Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury. As a taste from the tail end of what that hard-hitting style was about to replace, this isn’t bad, and it certainly doesn’t dawdle. But it feels about a decade older than it actually is.
Dir: Yeung Sai Hing
Star: Polly Shang-Kwan, Tien Peng, Law Bun, Cho Kin