image courtesy of HKMDB
Year of release: 1993
The Heroic Trio
Anita Mui. Image courtesy of Tai Seng.
A series of bizarre kidnappings of newborn babies is terrorizing Hong Kong. A superhero known as Wonder Woman (Mui) begins to investigate on her own, as another one known as Thief Catcher (Cheung) takes on the case for the money. Eventually their paths cross and they learn of a plot by a evil sorcerer to create an invincible army using the babies and a technology that will render them invisible, which a woman known as (guess what) Invisible Woman (played by Yeoh) holds the key to. The three eventually team up and form a fighting force known as the "Heroic Trio."
The Heroic Trio marks, for me, the climax of women in action movies. To start with, all three leads are incredibly sexy. Even though there are no gratuitous scenes as in many other action films with a female lead, you can't help but be attracted to at least one of the trio. Or perhaps that's why. In US movies, even when strong females are presented in movies (such as The Long Kiss Goodnight or True Lies), they must succumb to one of a few fates: showing skin (at least in some manner), eventually breaking down and acting like a "real" woman (i.e., becoming too emotional or overly attached to a "love interest") or dying.
Michelle Yeoh. Image courtesy of Tai Seng.
Very few movies in the US have gotten above this. While HK action movies are still very "macho" in nature, in many instances the female is as strong or stronger than her male counterpart. The Heroic Trio captures this perfectly. The three leads are very feminine in nature (let's face it, no one is going to mistake any of them for a female bodybuilder -- they're extremely easy on the eyes). Mui, in particular, shows this in her love for her husband.
But they are not the typical "stand-behind-the-scenes" women found in most action movies. They'll beat you six ways to Sunday. Some people have dubbed this the "Madonna and the whore" syndrome -- as in men want both someone nice to bring home to mom and one that will make you cry for mommy. Whatever. All I know is The Heroic Trio features three beautiful women kicking ass all over the place, a fast, brisk pace from director Johnnie To combined with a great soundtrack -- and, oh yeah, Anthony Wong in one of his best supporting roles as "Number 9," a guy so vile he eats his own severed fingers.
You can't ask for much more than that.
Maggie Cheung. Image courtesy of Tai Seng.