Angel Terminators II
Director: Tommy Wong
Stars: Moon Lee, Yukari Oshima, Lo Lieh, Sophia Crawford, Sibelle Hu
A young woman known as Bullet (Yukari Oshima) is released from prison after some Triad shenanigans. Her father (who is a cop) along with his partner (Sibelle Hu) want Bullet to go straight, but she wants to hang out with her best friend Chitty (Moon Lee) and a band of mild deliquents. While trying to get some money from her former boss, Bullet explodes when he asks Chitty to become a hostess. This sets off a tense situation between the various groups, which only becomes worse after Bullet unknowingly steals some jewels from her boss' stash as she and her friends try to help out a girl who was forcibly put into porno movies.
During the heyday of Hong Kong action movies (from 1987-1993), it seemed as if there was an unending appetite for these types of films, and as a result, many were produced -- but most of them were average at best and exploitative trash at the worst. However, Angel Terminators II stands out as one of the best of the lot. You know you're in for a treat when a film doesn't even wait for the credits to end before starting the first action sequence. There's tons of action in this movie, and with Yukari Oshima and Moon Lee involved, it's top-notch. One of the things that pained me most about the horrible Charlie's Angels was how people gushed about how good the lead actors looked fighting. To get a good fight scene, you need the best fighters, and Yukari and Lee are so far beyond Diaz, Liu, Barrymore... hell, most anyone -- male or female -- it's almost scary. One of the best parts about watching this movie was seeing Yukari just give a simple look -- almost like Brigette Lin's legendary stare -- and you knew she was going to kick serious ass.
As good as the fight scenes are, it's the performances which really make this a solid movie. I liked the way Moon Lee played against her usual "good girl" type. Sibelle Hu manages to be both tough and compassionate without turning into a cariacture. The real standout, however, is Yukari Oshima. Usually regulated to supporting roles or worse yet, in the case of cut and paste director Godfrey Ho and his ilk, glorifed cameos, Yukari is given one of her few opportunities to actually develop her character, and she does a great job with it. There is one sequence that showcases this very well. Bullet and Chitty are at a karaoke bar and Chitty wants to sing. Bullet is too shy to get on stage -- seeming the total opposite of a usual Yukari character -- but when a drunken businessman threatens Chitty, she snaps right back into badass mode.
Okay, it might not be Oscar-winning stuff, but it's little things like that which really help the viewer understand and care about characters in movies. It's when a film steps beyond the usual cookie-cutter fare that seperates the good from the great ones.
Note: this movie is a sequel to the first film in name only.
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