Black Rose (Taiwan 1983)

Rating: **
Review Date: 2/27/00
Cast: Lu Hsiao Fen, Yasuaki Kurata

Ocean Shores claims this came out in 1989, but it has much more of a 1983-86 look and feel to it. Regardless, it is an exercise in action film simplicity. It opens with several minutes of random stunt footage that's used later on in the film, followed by a karate training session led by our cute and plucky heroine, Eileen Shaw (Lu Hsiao Fen). She gets a telegram saying that her father is dead and immediately returns home to Hong Kong for his funeral. There, she meets up with her father's lawyer and her two evil stepmothers. Each of them has a key to the old man's safe, and it's agreed that they'll all get together the following morning to open the safe and read his will. But other forces are at work, and they want to have the safe all to themselves, so they try to steal all of the keys. And so the stage is set for a flurry of activity involving Eileen trying to stay alive through various attempts on her life. She hooks up with the lawyer's son and together they manage to solve the mystery of the safe and mop up all of the villains (led by kung fu veteran Yasuaki Kurata).

What can I say? Yes, it's really stupid, but the fight scenes are exciting and some of the stunts are pretty good (although many of them are downright silly). The real reason to watch the film is to see Lu Hsiao Fen strut her stuff and kick some butts. She is awesome! She's very cute and defiant, her fighting is good, and she doesn't pull her punches. I was extremely impressed with the amount of full contact punching and blocking that she performed without any forearm protection (most femme fighters tend to fight with padded long sleeved garments). Also noteworthy was the shoe continuity - this is something that I seem to have an eye for and I'm extremely picky about. Poor Eileen is always wearing non-sensible sexy shoes whenever she gets into a scrap, but at least she continues wearing them throughout the fight. Only in the final showdown with Yasuaki Kurata do her shoes change a couple of times in between shots, which is pretty admirable. Most films would have the actress in flats and/or athletic shoes for the entire duration of the fight. And speaking of Mr. Kurata, he must have been desperate for a role. He shows up an hour into the film, as little more than a punching bag for the two heroes. But he does put up a good fight. Overall, a fun and painless way to waste an afternoon, and get a good dose of girl fu at the same time.