Kick Ass Girls (HK 2013)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 2/10/18
Written And Directed By: Cheuk Wan Chi
Cast: Chrissie Chau, Hidy Yu, Dada Lo, Chris Tong, Cheuk Wan Chi

Boo (Chrissie Chau) runs a boxing club called Kick Ass Girls, where you can train to fight with women. Unfortunately, business has been bad since her boyfriend left her and started dating her best friend and business partner, TT (Hidy Yu). In order to attract more customers, she recruits a cute and energetic woman named Miu (Dada Lo) who also recently got dumped and has nowhere else to go. On Boo's 30th birthday, the three women accept a job as bodyguards for Ms. Zhuge (Chris Tong), who is going on a business trip to Malaysia. However, it's just a set-up to force them into a high stakes underground fighting competition. They must put aside their petty differences and work together if they want to make it out alive.

The most interesting thing about the film is that it was written and directed by a woman, which gives it a look and attitude that is noticeably different from the norm. She also plays the part of a supporting character. The writing and humor is refreshingly female-centric, which feels very natural and genuine coming from the lead characters. My favorite moment is probably when Boo is picking at her toes while her friends are trying to eat, and she says "When no one is watching, women are really gross."

It's a good looking film for the most part, but there is some really bad lighting in the underground boxing ring which spoils some of the action. The fight scenes are energetic and well choreographed, and it's exciting to watch the girls in action. The actresses dish out a convincing amount of punishment, and take some pretty hard hits as well. I was surprised and impressed by how strong and fluid their movements were, and it's clear that they took their roles very seriously. Chrissie Chau does a great job as the cold, bitchy, and emotionally wounded Boo, and handles the physical demands of the film with intense conviction. She's pretty, but she lacks warmth and isn't overly expressive. Hidy Yu is probably the best fighter of the three, while Dada Lo is probably the best actor. Lo's comedic timing is excellent and her presentation is perfect. Her character is also boy-crazy, and my favorite line of hers is "The only difference between a wife and a mistress is timing."

As much as I wanted to like the film, it has numerous problems. The pacing is challenging and the humor doesn't work with the action very well. The tone is inconsistent and the film can't decide whether it wants to be a romantic comedy or a gritty action-thriller. The story is also told as a flashback, which kills the dramatic tension because you know ahead of time how the story is going to end. Maybe that was an attempt to keep things lighthearted and not too depressing when things get dire. If you can put up with the inane bits and all of the cinematic filler, it's a moderately satisfying female action outing.