Angel With The Iron Fists (HK 1967)

Rating: **
Review Date: 1/14/12
Director: Lo Wei
Cast: Lily Ho, Tang Ching, Fanny Fan

With James Bond being an international phenomenon, it's no surprise that Shaw Brothers decided to try their hand at making a secret agent thriller. Unfortunately, "Angel With The Iron Fists" is such a shameless rip-off that it just comes across as an embarrassment more than anything else. It even steals music from "Thunderball" (1965). Lo Nua (cute Lily Ho) is Secret Agent 009, working for an undisclosed law enforcement agency (which looks like the Royal Hong Kong Police to me). Her latest mission is to infiltrate a criminal organization known as the Dark Angels (or Devil's Girls, depending on the translation) and destroy their headquarters. She has a fine collection of special spy gadgets to help get the job done, but she mostly relies on her sharp wardrobe and feminine wiles to make unsuspecting marks drop their guard. When all else fails, she's also proficient in karate, which happened to be the craze at the time.

Despite the awesome premise and a beautiful actress playing the lead, the film is plodding and tiresome. It also doesn't make a lot of sense, and parts of the film still baffle me. Lily Ho is delightful to watch and is full of seductive elegance and cold-hearted conviction, but she doesn't show a lot of emotional range. She has a fabulously mod 1960's wardrobe, and I was pleased that I didn't notice any shoe continuity problems. She wears her heels whether she's kicking bad guys, running through sewers, or climbing through ventilation shafts. The fight choreography is a joke, and the execution is exceedingly poor, especially for a Hong Kong film. Lily Ho isn't a great fighter, but no one else in the film is, either. The art direction is pretty spiffy and the villain's lair is a garish Ken Adams knock-off, but the production values make it look super cheap and tacky. The film offers a fair amount of eye candy, but in the end it turns out to be a pointless waste of time.