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Mini Movie Reviews: Thee Michelle Yeoh

Today's theme will be Michelle Yeoh, specifically the early action films that made her an icon of Hong Kong cinema featuring the work of directors Johnnie To, Corey Yuen, Stanley Tong, and David Chung.

Yes, Madam! (1985)
Yeoh (then going by Michelle Khan) and Cynthia Rothrock play cops in 80s Hong Kong trying to find an incriminating microfilm that has fallen into the hands of a trio of bungling thieves. I could've easily overlooked the endless stream of cop movie cliches and the thin as a string plot if this film had at least frequently showcased the skills of its two leads. Instead, far too much time is devoted to those extremely unfunny thieves, meaning Yeoh and Rothrock don't get to really cut loose until the final big fight, which admittedly is a doozy.

Rating: ⭐⭐
Royal Warriors (1986)
Yeoh once again plays a Hong Kong cop, this time teaming up with Hiroyuki Sanada's Tokyo detective to foil a hijacking, only to then become the targets of vengeful assassins. This could almost be a sequel to Yes, Madam! (and sort of was with how they were released internationally), but it doesn't make the same mistake of pushing the leads to the side lines in favour of annoying comic relief and has enough kinetic action to power past the many cliches.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Magnificent Warriors (1987)
Taking a break from playing cops and robbers in Hong Kong, Yeoh tries her hand at being Indiana Jones, complete with whip, but sadly no fedora. Fok Ming-ming is an adventurer/gunrunner during the Second Sino-Japanese War who is sent to aid a spy currently undercover in a remote city under enemy occupation. Like many HK action films, the plot and characters are as thin as sticks and there is an over-reliance on slapstick comedy, but it mostly gets by because of the action scenes and the sheer charisma of its leading lady.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Police Story 3: Super Cop (1992)
Yeoh retired from acting in 1988 after marrying producer Dickson Poon. They got divorced four years later and Yeoh made a truly manic acting comeback, starring in seven films in the space of a year. First up was the third instalment of Jackie Chan's successful Police Story series. Yeoh plays a Chinese police officer who aids Chan's Hong Kong cop as they both go undercover to bring down a major drug dealer. I'd never seen the first two Police Story films and only watched this because of Michelle Yeoh, but really wasn't enough scenes of Michelle Yeoh nearly getting herself killed doing insane stunts to keep me entertained throughout. Also, Maggie Cheung is just utterly wasted in the thankless role of Chan's damsel in distress girlfriend.

Rating: ⭐⭐
The Heroic Trio (1993)
In some unnamed city, which is really just one backlot street because it looks the most Gotham-ish, newborn babies are being abducted. Protecting the city is the masked hero known as Wonder Woman (just not that Wonder Woman), who quickly discovers that the culprit is the Invisible Woman (just not that Invisible Woman). Also caught up in all of this is an unscrupulous bounty hunter known as the Thief Catcher (just not that...er...). The Heroic Trio is a brilliantly bonkers superhero fantasy action film starring three absolute giants of Hong Kong cinema: Yeoh, Anita Mui, and Maggie Cheung (operating at 4x speed). The plot is sheer nonsense, but it doesn't matter. This is a film that gets by on its frantic energy, stylish visuals, ludicrous fight scenes, and the colossal star power of its iconic leading ladies. A sequel, Executioners, was released the same year, but isn't as good.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011 More Mark Greig

1 comment:

  1. I must admit that I have completely missed most of Michelle Yeoh's movie reign. I'm only familiar with her work on Star Trek, plus her recent Academy Award winning movie. Thanks for the movie reviews, Mark.


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