Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Heroic Trio (Johnnie To, 1993)

If you stumbled upon this review of The Heroic Trio hoping to read a long-winded tribute to either Michelle Yeoh and Anita Mui, I'm afraid you have come to the wrong place. No, this here, my friend, is Maggie Cheung country. Oh, Maggie Cheung in The Heroic Trio, let me count the ways. Of course, I don't mean to imply that Michelle and Anita are unworthy of praise. But let's get real, people. This is Maggie Cheung we're talking about. When she's not wearing goggles, she's wearing a headband. When she's not throwing sticks of dynamite from a moving motorcycle, she's gunning down henchmen with a M-60 machine gun. When she's not showing the tops of her stockings, she's... Wait a minute, Maggie Cheung is always showing the tops of her stockings. Now, when I first caught a glimpse of Maggie Chung's stockings in Johnnie To's The Heroic Trio, I thought to myself: Great. If I ever decide to do a review of this film, at least I'll have something to talk about. Then it dawned on me. Maybe I shouldn't write a review for this film. I mean, people might start to get the impression that I'm some kind of pervert, one who is obsessed with seeing the tops of actresses' stockings in pornographic and non-pornographic movies.

Then it dawned me... again. I will not let what others think undermine my unique brand of idiocy. Embrace your fetishes with the full force of your salubrious nimbus and shun the self-doubt feeding monsters that only exist to cause people to lose confidence in themselves.

It would seem, however, that this particular movie was giving me the impression that it was determined that I review it. Sure, the movie as a whole is basically nonsensical trash/fluff (babies fall on spikes, flying guillotines are used, kittens are rescued). That being said, the producers must have known that by having the tops of Maggie Cheung's stockings be visible from start to finish that I would have no choice but to review it.

Every once and awhile, I'll think to myself: Why can't there be more movies that feature characters who wear stockings in a manner that allows the viewer to clearly see the tops (and a hint of garter strap) for an extended period of time? Well, I'm happy to report that The Heroic Trio is the first film to do exactly that.

Again, though, and I'm probably going to have to bring this up about six or seven more times, while I appreciated the copious amount of Maggie Cheung-centric black stocking-adjacent thigh that I witnessed in this movie, I thought it could have been sleazier.

Of course, I'm not just saying this because I wanted to see more of  her black stocking-adjacent thighs, I genuinely thought that the film could have featured more Maggie Cheung. Seriously, every time she's onscreen, the film radiates life, vitality, passion and junk.

Her introduction scene, for example, is downright bad-ass. You would think she was  Sylvester Stallone in Cobra or David Bradley in Cyborg Cop 2 judging by the way she takes over a sticky hostage situation. Armed with a shotgun, a fist full of dynamite and enough moxie to fuel a forest fire, Maggie rides up on her motorcycle, shoots a couple of punks, blows some crap up and rescues the hostages. Done, and done.

Noticing how efficiently she handled the hostage-takers, the Chief of Police (Paul Chun), asks Thief Catcher (her character's name is THIEF CATCHER!!!! Ha! Ha! Ha! That is so.... Ahhh, that's so weirdly awesome), if she can track down his infant son, who was snatched from the hospital by Michelle Yeoh's Invisible Woman.

As the film gets underway, we quickly learn that at least eighteen babies have been snatched this way. The reason why is quite simple, the Evil Master (Shi-Kwan Yen) wants to find the next emperor of China. Anyway, since the police are having no such luck stopping this baby snatching epidemic, they look to Wonder Woman (Anita Mui) for help.

Her introduction scene, while not as bad-ass as Thief Catcher's, does, once and for all, prove that pre-handover Hong Kong cinema is vastly superior to all other types of cinema. I know I've said this before, but the amount cool ass shit they (HK filmmakers) manage to throw at the screen is unbelievable. Running across a row of power-lines (in slow-motion), Wonder Woman, whose secret identity is married to Inspector Lau (Damian Lau), ultimately fails to prevent the Invisible Woman from stealing the Chief of Police's baby.

While taking the baby to the Evil Master's underground lair, the Invisible Woman has a brief dust up with... Yes! It's Anthony Wong!!! Playing Lau, a mute kung-fu master who guards the entrance to the Evil Master's lair, Anthony Wong loses a finger during his fight with the Invisible Woman (who wasn't invisible, she took off her invisibility cloak). And, in true Anthony Wong fashion, he picks up his severed finger, smells it, then eats it. Yum.

Meanwhile, in another part of town, the cops are dealing with a sticky hostage situation. Wait, where have I heard this before? Oh, yeah, this is the scene where we're introduced to Maggie Cheung's Thief Catcher. Wearing goggles, knee-pads, a leather jacket, fishnet hose and a playful smirk, Thief Catcher crashes the party, Cybergoth-style, and blows away the hostage-takers with a shotgun and few sticks of dynamite. Excuse me for a second, I need to take a breather. I mean, just the mere thought of this scene gives me the vapors. It's got everything: Goggles, leather, fishnets, knee-pads, a motorcycle, and over the top cartoon violence.

Hold up. Why is Thief Catcher stealing a baby?!? I thought that was The Invisible Girl's schtick? From what I gleamed from the dialogue, apparently the Evil Master is not only an evil master, he's a master manipulator. In other words, he's managed to convince Thief Catcher to do his bidding... I think. The plot can be confusing at times.

It's true, you can't really see the tops of Maggie's stockings during her much ballyhooed introduction. But that all changes during the baby snatching/warehouse fight sequence, one that pits Wonder Woman against Thief Catcher and The Invisible Woman. It's stocking top city from this moment on, baby.

Eventually teaming up to fight the Evil Master, Thief Catcher, Wonder Woman and The Invisible Woman are, simply put, an inspiration to little girls and perverted grown men the world over.

Seeing three strong female superhero-type characters battle one another got me a thinking about a recent article I read about the lack of female-centric comic book movies being made in Hollywood. Sure, they mention Catwoman and Elektra (both disasters, critically and financially) as one of the main reasons, but look at this movie, it was made way back in 1993, and it's a thousand times more awesome than any superhero movie Hollywood has ever produced. (Even Guardians of the Galaxy?) Ugh, I saw that and I didn't remember a single thing from it afterward.

You could also blame Sucker Punch for this estrogen deficiency. Oh, and thanks to it, we'll probably never a see another film where stocking tops and goggles are so front and center. Fucking Sucker Punch, is there anything you haven't ruined?

Oh, well. As long as I keep coming across gems like, The Heroic Trio, my thirst for films that feature strong female characters who wear stockings, knee-pads and goggles will never go unquenched. Did I mention that the film's theme song by Anita Mui is catchy as fuck? No? Well, it totally is. In fact, it rocks so hard, that I wouldn't hesitate to add it to my hypothetical DJ playlist.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there! I absolutely love your blog! Your choice of films to review is so on point and I thoroughly enjoy your content. I'm Jenny, one of the ladies in the duo of women behind the site, and I wanted to reach out and introduce myself. We’re an online magazine by and for women that chronicles the offbeat, opulent, vintage, and smutty side of life, with subversive humor and wit. We think of ourselves as a female hedonist’s guide to life, and we’re looking to team up with similar sites to support each other, collaborate and expand our audiences. We are big fans of your site and would love to talk to you about a doing a link share or some kind of collaboration. If you’re interested, please drop us a line!