Image courtesy of



AKA: Black Rose

Year of release: 2004

Company: Universe

Genre: action/comedy

Running time: 91 min.

Directors: Donnie Yen, Wong Chun Chun

Action director: Donnie Yen

Script: Allun Lam, Roy Szeto, Lau Man Wai

Producers: Daneil Lam, Carl Chang

Cinematography: Cheung Man Po

Editor: Li Tung Chuen

Music: Chan Kwok Wing

Stars: Gillian Chung, Charlene Choi, Ekin Cheng, Teresa Mo, Chris Yen, Tats Lau, Vincci Cheuk, Alex Lee, Patrick Tang, Lo Hoi Pang, Turbo Law, Faith Woo

Rated IIB for violence

Related links:

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Ekin Cheng biography
Donnie Yen biography
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Protege de la Rose Noire

Black Rose

Charlene Choi (left) and Gillian Chung (aka Twins). Image courtesy of Universe.

The Twins continue their seemingly non-stop onslaught on the Hong Kong entertainment scene with Protege de la Rose Noire, an update of the popular 60's movie series Black Rose. I'll be honest with you -- I liked the girls in The Twins Effect and found them tolerable in The Death Curse, but they're just downright annoying here. There is such a thing as over-saturation, and I think Ah Gil and Ah Sa have officially hit it with this movie. Yes, I know I'm risking the wrath of millions of teeny-boppers here, but I'm sick of Twins and just wish they would go away, at least for a few months. Red-blooded males such as myself (and, I would hope, movie fans in general) can only be expected to take so much of their cute antics before they turn away in disgust.

Protege de la Rose Noire's slim plot -- which, for some mind-boggling reason, took three people to come up with -- is as simple as a pregnacy test on a hooker. Gillian and Charlene, as usual, play a couple of mis-matched partners (Charlene, of course, plays the "kooky" one, while Gillian plays it straight) who come under the tutelage of the slightly nutty and love-sick Black Rose (Teresa Mo), a former kung fu-fighting super-hero who grooms them for a life of fighting crime.

Black Rose

Ekin Cheng and Teresa Mo. Image courtesy of Universe.

Ekin Cheng, who seems to be in the early running for the Anthony Wong/Chapman To "any role for a buck" award for 2004, plays a dim-witted cab driver who wears a Robin costume and becomes Charlene's love interest. There is a bit of "comedy" as Rose confuses Ekin with her former lover and Gillian become jealous. A lot of time is wasted with this Three's Company-style shtick until eventually, some shred of a conflict comes forward, as the girls must battle a former protege (or sister, or daughter -- it's never made very clear) of Rose who has taken to kidnapping to pay the bills.

So, yeah, the plot isn't Shakespearean, and it takes forever to get going. Things aren't helped any by the copious amounts of dopey comedy that would make even Wong Jing blush. What makes matters even worse is that the Twins seem to be buying into their own hype, as witnessed by some of the jokes, such as one with a concoction Rose makes called "Twins sugar", which is supposedly the sweetest thing on earth. A bit of self-referential humor in and of itself is not such a bad thing, but Protege de la Rose Noire takes it almost up to the level of a film like Scream, where Wes Craven cannibalized his previous filmic entries just for the sake of a few bucks.

Black Rose

Chris Yen. Image courtesy of Universe.

And ultitmately, that is Protege de la Rose Noire's main problem. It -- like many Hollywood summer "blockbusters" -- just feels like it was a movie made just to make a profit. I'm not naive; the Hong Kong film industry needs all the money it can get at this point, but surely they can come up with something better than this Lunar New Year stinker. I'm a fan of Donnie Yen's work -- and it's his expertise in making action scenes which saves this from being a Charlie's Angels-esque bomb, especially those featuring his sister, Chris, who seems ripe for stardom in her own right.

But I would think that with as much talent and money this production had thrown at it, the results could have been better than this. I guess we'll just have to wait a month or two, since as long as the Twins make money, studios will keep pumping out films featuring them. I just hope the results next time out are better than this. I don't want to hate the girls -- their cutie-pie antics do grow on you after a while -- but surely, they (and, more importantly, the fans and viewers) deserve better than this mish-mash.

Black Rose

Ekin Cheng. Image courtesy of Universe.