Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Wei Qing Zhui Zong / Red Force 5 (Hong Kong, 1996)

A.k.a. Yes, Madam 5 — a title which could easily lead one think that the movie is a bordello-set sex film instead of a police flick. Whether titled Red Force 5 or Yes Madam 5, to date the movie is the last of a loose and at times thinly linked franchise of [mostly] Hong Kong girls-with-guns flicks* that began way back in 1985 with Corey Yuen's Yes, Madam! (trailer). As all the movies of the franchise are unfamiliar to us, we are unable to pontificate upon a qualitative comparison — but going by the trailer alone, Yes, Madam!, which stars the Asian national treasure that is Michelle Yeoh,** is probably more fun than this intermittently entertaining but often dull and narratively challenged programmer. In any event, by this film here the only common denominator of the "franchise" is that there is a female lead and the main focus of the movie is more or less on a female cop.

* To read about two better, non-franchise Hong Kong girls-with-guns movie, see: Killer Angels (1989) and Devil Hunters (1989).
It takes a while for Wei Qing Zhui Zong to decide the tale it wants to tell. The movie opens with a police raid that features the fighting talents of Officer Yeung (Cynthia Khan** of San tou mo wang a.k.a. Ginseng King [1988 / trailer] and more), but despite her obvious technical prowess at kung-fu butt-kicking, the bad guy gets away...
** Since Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022 / trailer), Ms. Yeoh has finally begun to get the international respect and recognition she deserves. But when she made Yes, Madam! in 1985, she was an unknown known as "Michelle Kahn" and her co-star was Cynthia Rothrock — when the Taiwanese dancer-actress Yang Li-tsing took over the lead role of the franchise, she paid both her predecessors honor by becoming "Cynthia Khan".
Then, suddenly, the movie turns to two spiffily dressed young men who one might assume to be well-dressed mall cops, as they promptly kick the butts of two much-younger pickpockets at a mall; of the latter two young hooligans, one injures a Pretty Young Lady (Pan Pan Yeung), whom Spiffy Younger Young Man brings to the hospital. And suddenly the film seems to be about them, as we watch the romance blossom, all the while during which Spiffy Young Man (Siu-Ho Chin*), whom we now know is the son of a Triad Boss and the eventual heir to the syndicate, takes the Triad into the digital age by computerizing the business. But, no: Spiffy Younger Young Man is an undercover cop who ends up stealing a computer disk of all the Triad info and...

* ... of, among other movies: Mr. Zombie (2018 / trailer), Bio Raiders (2017 / trailer), Vampire Cleanup Department (2017 / trailer), Rigor Mortis (2013 / trailer), Visa to Hell (1992 / kill count), The Beheaded 1000 (1991 / trailer), The Ultimate Vampire (1991 / trailer), Vampire Vs. Vampire (1989 / trailer), The Seventh Curse (1986 / trailer), New Mr. Vampire (1986 / full film), Mr. Vampire (1985) and...
Well, to get to the main plot: Officer Yeung does not know that her fiancé, Spiffy Young Man, is part of the Triad — until, that is, she follows Pretty Young Lady to Malaysia to find the disk, only to be confronted by her fiancé trying to get the disk first! Hot on all trials are a group of cold-blooded killers, including mega-cool Nameless Killer (Philip Ko [18 June 1949 – 30 Mar 2017] of Dreadnaught [1981 / trailer], The Boxer's Oman [1983 / trailer], Seeding of a Ghost [1983 / trailer] and so much more) and his Boss (Billy Chow of Robotrix [1992] and Wizard's Curse [1992 / full film]).
As obvious by the plot description above, the movie is a bit lax in its plot development, and it pulls the rug of identification out from beneath the viewer's eyes a few times, making it hard to truly identify with any of the characters. If Officer Yeung does manage to win the identification game by the end of the movie, it's primarily because Cynthia Khan, when she lets her hair down, is just too beautiful. But what a ridiculous plot twist, if you get down to it: a leading police officer has been having a relationship with a man long enough to seriously consider (and even say "Yes") to his marriage proposal but all the while does not know that he is the son of the Triad she is trying to bring down? Unbelievable even in the pre-internet name-search days of 1996.
A fight scene in
Yes, Madam 5:
Okay, so the plot is half-assed — but as plot is often secondary in Hong Kong movies anyway, the real question is the quality of the action and girls-with-guns scenes: Do they cut the mustard? Well, sort of: most are not all that bad when they happen, although they are for the most part miserably edited, with the possible exception of a three-way fight scene in which each fighter tries to grab the disk on the ground between kicks and punches. Of all the fights that occur in the movie, that fight is the only one that remains memorable once the movie is over.
A fight scene in
Yes, Madam 5:
The car crashes, on the other hand, are pretty good, even if the car-chase scenes are not. And as for the girls with guns aspect, well, whenever Officer Yeung becomes a girl with a gun, she can shoot as well as anyone else in the movie (which translates into a lot of bullets going everywhere before someone falls).
In general, however, Wei Qing Zhui Zong has way too many snoozer scenes in which nothing happens, and much too much time is spent on the relationship(s) of the main and secondary characters. Also, the motorcycle chase whence the DVD cover image is taken is hardly as exciting as it should be, very much conveying the feeling that it is cut to look faster than it actually is — it ends, at least, in a wonderfully absurd manner that could hardly be planned for in reality.
A fight scene in
Yes, Madam 5:
For the Maltin-minded, we would say that Wei Qing Zhui Zong is on the lower end of two stars, possibly even closer to 1.5 stars. It has a great cast and some really cool car crashes, but way too many lulls, an obnoxious synth score, and a general sloppiness in the script and fight editing are definitely a minus. At roughly 86 minutes in length, Wei Qing Zhui Zong feels longer than it actually is — which puts the movie squarely in the realm of unessential.
In other words, don't bother searching this one out, but if you get it for free you can give it a go.
Cars crash in
Yes, Madam 5:

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...