Brave Young Girls (HK 1990)

Rating: *
Review Date: 6/24/07
Cast: Shing Fui-On, Yukari Oshima, Leung Ka-Yan, Wei Ying Hung

One of the final pieces in my Yukari Oshima collection, but sadly not worth the effort. Even though he's not listed in the credits, Godfrey Ho must have been involved as the film contains all of his signature trademarks. Stylistically it has a lot in common with Ho's "Lethal Panther" (1990), and even features the same music score. It's also a mix-and-match mess with no clear sense of direction or plot. To summarize, Leung Ka-Yan and Shing Fui-On are international drug dealers. Leung works in Japan while Shing runs his racket in Hong Kong. An illegal mainlander named Hong is wanted by the police for a botched robbery, and is eventually forced into working for Shing as a prostitute. A pretty young girl named Li is also sold into prostitution by her parents to try and cover their gambling debts. Really nice folks. And finally, a third pill-popping prostitute named Jenny rounds out the cast. These three girls all manage to help each other out at various points, and eventually team up with the police to bring down the cruel Shing. Quite surprisingly, Jenny turns out to be a pretty impressive and convincing martial artist. But what about Japanese kung fu diva Yukari Oshima? The "star" of the show doesn't appear until forty-eight minutes into the film, and literally comes out of nowhere. She has exactly two fight scenes and two dialog scenes. Not one of her better outings, and her moves are fairly weak and uncoordinated. That is, until her final showdown with Leung Ka-Yan, which is actually pretty good.

However, the highlight of the show, which is also the most baffling set piece, is a cameo by Wei Ying Hung. Like Ms. Oshima, she literally appears out of nowhere and proceeds to indiscriminately beat up an entire gang of thugs. And then she's gone from the rest of the film! The real gem here is that as soon as she shows up, a guy looks at her and says "Is she the champion of lady's karate?" Utterly preposterous and riotously funny in its incongruity. There are also some great subtitles in this low budget disaster, including a line from Li when she's trying to elude an amorous client: "Help me, there's a lupine following me!" Perhaps the most absurd dialog exchange is between Yukari and the Hong Kong chief of police, just before they storm the bad guy's hideout:

Yukari: "I'll go first. You bring the police backup."
Chief: "Fuck, okay."

The film ends abruptly and joylessly. The police come to the rescue and save all of the girls, but then they arrest Miss Hong for robbery. Even with the brief moments of brilliance from Wei Ying Hung and Yukari Oshima, this film is a sad waste of time and can only be recommended for completists and die-hard fans of the genre.