Saturday, March 9, 2013

El Professore Movie Reviews: Angel Terminators 2

Director: Simon Yun Ching (aka Tony Liu)
Starring: Moon Lee, Yukari Oshima, Sibelle Hu, Jason Pai Piao
* * * 1/2
After first appearing together in the seminal film, 'Angel' (which I previously reviewed here), both Moon Lee and Yukari Oshima became hot properties in the suddenly booming 'Girls With Guns' subgenre in Hong Kong cinema. Moon Lee with her combination of incredibly cute looks and newly developed physicality (due to her extensive dance background) was groomed as a major action heroine and she tackled her new found popularity with mucho gusto and surprising grit, appearing in dozens of like movies from the late '80s through the early '90s.. Yukari Oshima on the other hand being Japanese, was often relegated to supporting roles as it appears that Hong Kong wasn't quite sure what to do with her. Tough, tomboyish, unglamorous and a real life karate black belt, Yukari bucked nearly ever trend going as she seemed content in taking whatever part was offered, no matter how small and no matter how bad the film itself sometimes was. This was really a shame as she had proven to not only be tough as nails in the combat department (nobody fought quite like she did), but also displayed untapped acting skills. Thank goodness then, for director Simon Yun Chung who consistently gave both ladies some of the best roles of their careers. This film is a prime example of that.

Full review after the jump.

Bullet (Yukari Oshima) has just been released from prison. Her father (Jason Pai Piao) is a policeman who battles tremendous feelings of guilt over his daughter's delinquency, Bullet takes after her mother who also turned criminal and blames her father for having arrested and incarcerated her. She ignores her father's attempts to reach out and instead spends her time with best bud, Chitty (Moon Lee) and her mildly delinquent gang. One of the members, May is tricked into a movie offer and then raped on camera by a powerful local gang, Chitty, Bullet and the rest set about to retrieve the videotape and get retribution for their fallen member.

Simon Yun Chung (who goes under many pseudonyms for some unknown reason) appears to have been the only true visionary in the Girls With Guns movement. He alone created stories with character depth without sacrificing anything in the all-out action department. He also understood the female characters who populated his films to such a degree, that they always put forth their finest work under his supervision (Dreaming the Reality which I listed in my Top 20 Hong Kong films is the best example of this). Moon and Yukari really let the sparks fly here as each brings their unique talents to the forefront like never before. Lee plays Chitty to perfection as the fragile, yet outgoing and extremely positive big sister, always perky and always looking to help friends in need. Yukari on the other hand (in what just may be the finest perf of her career) is positively overwhelming as the brooding Bullet. Filled with immeasurable rage that she seemingly doesn't fully understand, she proves too shy to sing along with her well meaning pal at a karaoke bar, yet is quick to viciously lash out at would be assailants. Her character proves so polarizing that through her actions, she leads to the downfall of Chitty, her gang and even her policeman father. Chung makes sure to to film 'The Osh' in loving closeup, concentrating on her ultra-intense (and patently Japanese) 'stare' that would make The Medusa envious.

Filled with state of the art fight choreography to go along with it's dark drama, 'Angel Terminators 2' runs out of emotional steam somewhat before it's finale, but still adds up as one of the best films of it's type.

Incidentally, yes, there is an 'Angel Terminators 1' and it has nothing whatsoever to do with this film (different story, different cast). And no, I still have no idea why things like that are done...

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