Magnificent Warriors

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“Raiders of the East Ark.”

Ok, the above is a rabid simplification; there are no artifacts here at all, but there’s no doubt Michelle Yeoh’s adventurer owes more than a touch to the archaeologist we all know and love – not least in the bullwhip she wields in the opening sequence. While for nasty Nazis, read nasty Nips, with the Japanese who are occupying mainland China at the time of this film, so villainous they might as well be twirling wax moustaches and wearing top hats. They’re building a poison gas factory, and it’s up to Yeoh, agent 001 Yee and scoundrel Ng to stop them.

It does live up to the claim of “nonstop action” on the sleeve, certainly, and when Yeoh is in full flow, it’s a joy and absolute delight to see. For example, almost the first fight has her wielding a rope with a blade on the end, and it’s better action than many films have as a climax. There’s plenty of similar scenes, and more than enough moments make you go, “Whoa!”, in your best Keanu voice. Though for my tastes, and especially towards the end, there’s too much running/driving about, firing of weapons, explosions and stuff that doesn’t particularly showcase the skills of those involved. Supporting actress Cindy Lau comes over well as the feisty sidekick of the man they have to rescue.

This was the last action film in the first stage of Yeoh’s career; in 1988, she retired, and married D&B Films owner Dickson Poon, until her return to the screen in Supercop. This is perhaps the least well-known of her early trilogy of starring action roles, behind Yes, Madam! and Royal Warriors; in all honesty, it is probably the slightest, yet is still an impressively insane piece of work.

Dir: David Chung
Star: Michelle Yeoh, Derek Yee, Richard Ng, Lowell Lo

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