Thursday, February 14, 2008

Her Name Is Cat (Hong Kong, 1998)

The slight plot that is to be found in Her Name Is Cat has John, a lonely, mid-divorce detective, figuring out that a dreamy-eyed, child-loving beauty named Cat is out killing the Triad Bosses. Hot on her trail (tail?), Cat turns the tables on our hero by infiltrating his life, befriending his whining little daughter, smoking his cigars in his apartment while wearing his clothes and, eventually, after taking refuge with the detective after being injured, having some bondage-tinted sex with him. Yep, true love blossoms, so when our detective pisses off the top Triad Boss — who promptly puts a contract out on him — Cat saves John (obliterating her previous partner/boyfriend’s killer bitch new partner/mate along the way). The two lovebirds sail off on a borrowed yacht for a long, boring romantic interlude during which they perform a homegrown marriage ceremony (that includes becoming blood siblings) and stand around half-naked. But, of course, their happiness is short lived, for the police catch up with them and arrest Cat, who is convinced that John set her up and that he, like all men, is actually scum...
Lacking in continuity and padded with the superfluous, the director (“Ford Clarence” — or Clarence Fok Yiu-leun) often relies too much on style when he should have thought more about story, continuity or (a little bit of) logic, especially since he doesn’t seem to really have much of a grip on style either. Her Name Is Cat is yet another Hong Kong multi-violent shoot 'em up film about a female assassin with commitment problems. Prone to wearing tight T-shirts without bras and taking part in prolonged, sweaty exercise programs, she works for Sister Shin, who heads an assassin ring and seems to hold all her meetings in a church when she's not showering Cat with lesbian-toned attention. A sleazy little movie that tries to get away with as much skin and sex as was probably allowed in Hong Kong films at that time, its typically explosive but excellent shoot outs and indulgently choreographed fight scenes are interspersed with many-too-many long, boring scenes of uninteresting romance and sex, or dull scenes that may more or less explain the inane storyline's development but completely fail to make the characters all that interesting. (Beyond Hypothermia (1996) this film ain't.)
As always with these Hong Kong sleaze feasts, Her Name is Cat does feature some entertainingly extreme, noteworthy ideas — like a flashback establishing Cat's past relationship to the opposing assassins in which the man, her ex-lover, not wanting her to have his baby, keeps punching her in the stomach to induce an abortion, or when, at the climactic fight, Sister Shin gets impaled by a cast iron crucifix. Regrettably the film as a whole is a yawn, even if the babes are all hot. Definitely not the best that Hong Kong has to offer, and is not bad enough to be laughably enjoyable — but obviously popular enough to have warranted a "sequel" two years later, Her Name is Cat 2.

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