Martial Angels (HK 2001)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 7/15/01
Director: Clarence Ford
Cast: Shu Qi, Kelly Lin, Sandra Ng, Teresa Mak, Rosemary Vandenbroucke, Rachel Ngan, Amanda Strang, Julian Cheung, Terence Yin, Wong Jing

Wow! What a surprisingly entertaining B-movie action romp! Hong Kong glamour girl Shu Qi plays a cat burglar named Cat, who has retired to lead a more simple life. Unfortunately, she's forced back into the business when her ex-boyfriend (charming Julian Cheung) gets in trouble with the Russian mafia. The Russians will release Julian if she agrees to steal a piece of anti-virus software for them, so she rounds up the old team again. These seven ultra-hot super-babes manage to pull off the heist as well as rescue Julian, but that's only the beginning of their troubles.

First of all, the women in the film are gorgeous. They're all strong and sexy, and none of them take any shit from anybody. And there are seven of them! A female action lover's dream team! I've never cared much for Shu Qi, but she managed to be very genuine and quite engaging in this film (and her hair is unbelievably beautiful). Kelly Lin is probably the toughest and sexiest of the bunch, and the chemistry she has with Shu Qi is delightful. It was good to see Sandra Ng again after so many years, and she still looks great. The rest of the team seems to be unknowns, but they're all very beautiful. Rachel Ngan is by far the prettiest of the bunch, but they're all just friggin' amazing. (and watching her say "fuck you, asshole" to a man at gunpoint is utterly spectacular) Unfortunately, the action scenes are weak and low budget, but the unflinching conviction of the women makes everything seem credible and extremely exciting. When you have limited resources, you have to rely on presentation and the strength of your characters. These ladies take their work very seriously, and I appreciate it immensely. The film also suffers from some embarrassing effects work, and the addition of a sex maniac to the cast makes the film unnecessarily sleazy. However, he manages to redeem himself in the end, which makes him seem a little less repugnant. (although I would have much rather seen him take a bullet from any one of the girls)

Overall, it's a fun and exciting girls 'n' guns outing that borrows heavily from "Charlie's Angels" (2000) and "Mission: Impossible - 2" (2000). However, what really intrigues me is that director Clarence Ford ("Naked Killer" (1992) ) reportedly shot and edited this film in only eleven days. I know they work fast in Hong Kong, but that's really incredible, not to mention inspirational. Especially when you look at the quality of domestic films that are produced in the same amount of time (Jim Wynorski's work immediately comes to mind). Definitely worth checking out if you enjoy female action cinema.