Velvet Gloves

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This film is a 90-minute explanation of why Jade Leung’s star never took off. While some decisions Michelle Yeoh made might have been questionable, at least her films were rarely boring, and never down to the level of this piece of tedious dreck. It depicts the struggles of a class of policewomen (including Jade), to become part of the elite. The idea certainly has potential – the Inspector Wears Skirts series has a similar premise – but here, there is almost no character given to any of the girls; they all blur into each other, like a dozen GI Jane-wannabes.

The director – whoever they may be, since the credits were all in Chinese, and the Internet offers limited assistance either – also seems to believe that if two minutes of the ladies taking on an assault course is good, ten minutes must be better. Another example is the seven-day forced march, which feels like it was filmed in real time, and screws up the most obvious opportunity for tension. It does lead to a somewhat interesting sequence, where three of the women have to last two minutes fighting martial-arts instructors, to avoid getting kicked out. But there is no flow to the plot at all – it lurches from set-piece to set-piece without cohesion or progression. All of which would be tolerable if the action elements weren’t handled in such a lacklustre fashion, but there’s nothing here to write home about, except in a “PS. Obvious stunt doubling” kind of way.

For some strange reason, this film appears to be unavailable on DVD – should you want to see it (and if you do, I’ve clearly failed in my mission here), you’ll have to see the VCD, with its illegible subtitles and a plot synopsis which shakes hands and parts company with the truth after the first sentence. It opts to visit the land of Wild Fabrication instead, continuing: “Before graduation, the team is called to handle a hostage situation in a jewelry expo. Afterwards the girls are assigned to as the bodyguard of the first lady of a small country. But the first lady’s own rebellious guard kidnaps her and executes one of the girls…” There’s not a single word of truth there: the movie finishes – abruptly – on graduation day, after yet another training mission.

But if you know what film that synopsis actually describes, do let me know, because it’s almost certainly far more interesting and entertaining than this one. It may not be the worst action heroine film I’ve ever seen, but it’s probably the worst ever to come out of Hong Kong, which usually does such things with a certain degree of invention, enthusiasm and energy. None of these are visible here, in any amount.

Dir: Billy Chan Wui-Ngai
Stars: Jade Leung, Bobby Au, Farini Cheung, Zhang Fengyi

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