Sunday, June 27, 2010

Magnificent Warriors (1987)

Boy, have martial arts films from Hong Kong come a long way! Since Magnificent Warriors is a kung fu film from the 1980s, there's no doubt that it hasn't aged really well. Nonetheless, if you're a fan of fighting films, then this is for you.

The film starts in 1938, a time when there were conflicts between Japan and China. Fok Ming-Ming (Michelle Yeoh) is a spy for the Chinese resistance movement who is asked to fly in the region of Inner Mongolia. Her job is to find a spy codenamed Sky Number One (Richard Ng) and cooperate with him in flying out Youda (Lowell Lo), a lord who rules the city of Kaal. Besides, the resistance movement sent a flashy watch through a pigeon.

However, the watch falls into the hands of Wong (Yee Tung-Shing), a tramp and a gambler, because he killed the bird and ate it. Obviously, Ming-Ming follows Wong but they both get trapped by the Japanese army. Afterwards, they get the help of Sky Number One. Together, they'll join Youda and will try to drive the Japanese army out of Kaal. In fact, the Japanese army, which is led by Gen. Toga (Matsui Tetsuya), wants to manufacture poison gas.

Obviously, like most martial art films from the 1970s to the 1990s,Magnificent Warriors' production value leaves a little bit to be desired. During the fight scenes, the sound effects are often way too loud. In fact, just imagine what it's like to hear a punch or kicks in the film.

However, the worst thing about Magnificent Warriors is definitely its storyline, because it fails at trying to simultaneously be a martial arts flick, a war drama and a comedy. As an action film, Magnificent Warriors offers us action sequences – be they well-choreographed fight scenes or ordinary gunfights – separated by a window of time of about five minutes. Therefore, don’t expect any great performance from the cast or any character development. On that previous matter, don’t be surprised if the film presents the characters in a black-and-white approach: most Chinese protagonists are inveterate patriots; the few Chinese “traitors” don’t help us to fully understand why they collaborated with the Japanese army in the first place during the Second World War; and there’s nothing to say about the Japanese army itself.

In conclusion, I’m so elated that I borrowed the film for free at the library. Because of Magnificent Warriors’ lack of elaborated storyline, who would pay two to five bucks to rent it? Oh right, there are the fight scenes.

Rating: 2/5

Origin:Hong Kong (1987)
Length:91 minutes
Screenplay:Kan-Cheung Tsang
Director:David Chung
Starring:Michelle Yeoh, Richard Ng and Yee Tung-Shing

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