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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Madam City Hunter
Madam City Hunter
CAV // Unrated // January 22, 2002
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Dvdempire]
Review by J. Doyle Wallis | posted August 15, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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The Story: When she kills one of their members during a police raid, Inspector Yang Ching (Cynthia Khan) makes an enemy in the deadly and secretive Five Fingers gang. While investigating the gang and a couple of runaway druggie teens that saw them, she gets into trouble when she is knocked unconscious her gun is used to kill the kids and put one of them into a coma. This links her to private detective Chan (Anthony Wong) who was trailing the now comatose runaway girl for her grandmother. So, laid off the force, soon Inspector Yang, her lovesick superior Kwong (Tommy Wong), Detective Chan and his oddball wife (Sheila Chan) are fighting for thier lives because the gang is out for revenge on Yang and anyone connected to her. This includes Yang's father, who has returned from Brazil with a young trophy wife (Kara Hui), who not only is a former girlfriend of a Five Finger gang member but is also an infamous black widow, marrying and killing men for their insurance money. So, using her stepmom as a pawn, Yang and company try to get close and draw out the Five Finger gang.

The Film: A Hong Kong action-comedy is a very detailed animal. Plotted and carefully planned by cast and crew in terms of performance down the most minute detail. It is sheer film making precision.... Okay I lied. HK action comedy, especially a mid-low budget affair like Madam City Hunter (aka. Lady Hunter, 1992) is completely made on the fly with plotting that amounts to, intro action scene- action scene- comedy- plot- action scene- comedy- comedy- plot- and so forth until the BIG FINALE, with scattershot moments throughout that attempt to tell a somewhat cohesive story. But, hey, does it deliver a few good chuckles and some neat action? That is all the audience wants, so that is all that really matters. Its a confectionery, not a full meal. If you are looking for light entertainment it does deliver, though in the most dumbed down b-movie way, and its simply amazing that the film makes any sense at all.

Obviously the title was some vain attempt to cash-in on Jackie Chan's City Hunter, but make no mistake, it has nothing to do with that film and is your typical butt kicking girl cop comedy action film. And of course, in HK action- comedy, you can get away with a scene where in a abandoned building, a girl hanging out with a bunch of paint and glue huffing druggies pees her pants in fear before being shot by the films baddie. Yes, it is still a comedy! The action is all pretty good. Very standard martial madness but entertaining and frequent enough (except for the middle when the comedy really takes up the film) that viewers aren't likely to get bored. Particularly standout is a finale battle that takes place on some bamboo scaffolding. The scene gives the Cynthia Rothrock Righting Wrongs duel a run for the "Greatest Scaffold Fight" award.

Cynthia Khan got her start as Michelle Yeoh's replacement in the In the Line of Duty series. At the time, Yeoh was known as Michelle Khan, thus Cynthia was given a similar name to further capitalize on Yeoh's breakout stardom. With such films as Tiger Cage 2, Deadend of Besiegers and Blade of Fury, Cynthia carved out a pretty nice career as an action heroine in late 80's early 90's 'girls with guns' and swordplay martial arts films. She seems to have dropped out of making films since 1996's Yes Madam 5, which, I assume means she, like so many other stars, got married and quit the biz or she has been doing only tv work. Anthony Wong is Anthony Wong, an HK legend, an artistically astute b-film workhorse with a huge resume of mixed work, from the god-awful to great, including Hard Boiled, Erotic Ghost Story 2, Heroic Trio, Taxi Hunter and Time and Tide. Wong could have phoned his performance from anywhere in the world, but comes off pretty good, gets to play a goofy occasionally drag dressing, super penis powder accidentally eating hero instead of a psycho. Sheila Chan, from Hero Among Heroes, Doctor Vampire, gets the comic role; she's aggressively quirky and loud and supposed to be cute, but I find that kind of character, seen all too often in HK film, to be annoying. Last up on the acting front, Tommy Wong, Wild Search, Prison on Fire 2 and veteran looker Kara Hui, 8 Diagram Pole Fighter, Kung Fu Mistress, Visible Secret playing a great sexpot and doing a more lame than titilating 9 ½ Weeks/Flashdance dancing number. Director Johnnie Kong hasn't exactly made a dent in the HK film world. His other directing creds are the Category 3 Story of Prostitutes and the God of Gamblers ripoff King of Gamblers, but to his credit, he was Wong Kar Wai's assistant director on Days of Being Wild and Fallen Angels.

The DVD: World Video

Picture: Widescreen. Well, getting good HK prints are usually a mixed bag, especially when it comes to low budget stuff like this. The image looks more in league with a vhs or VCD, but sometimes thats the best you can get. Contrast is on the gray side, color could be much better, softness, and some spots of dirt and wear, pretty washed out and bright.

Sound: Cantonese or Mandarin Dolby Digital 2.0 with burned in white English subtitles. The audio has a constant low buzz distortion in the background. Most of the time it isn't very noticeable, overwhelmed by the fx, music, and dialogue, but is pretty shoddy. The subs have their fare share of flaws and are, unfortunately, white disappearing in the films brighter scenes. But the movie is so simple you aren't going to get lost. There is a scene or two near the end of the film where the subs are shaky.

Extras: 8 Chapters---Trailers for Dead Target and Deadend of Besiegers

Conclusion: Perhaps if you are an HK action-comedy fan who has completely exhausted all of the DVD releases of such films, this is well worth adding to your collection. Otherwise, the transfer isn't exactly A or B grade, and there are certainly a higher caliber of films from the same genre out there. It is decent enough but not exactly so mind blowingly good HK action or goofball comedy fans should rush out and grab it, but, I did enjoy it because HK just doesn't make them like this anymore.

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