Women on the Run
Hong Kong 1993
Directed by Corey Yuen and David Lai.

Let's face it, this is a movie based on a single premise: that a woman can do kungfu completely in the nude. It's such a compelling premise that it completely overshadows the film constructed around it. Not that it's a bad film, rather that nothing can quite compete with this concept in the mind. So, the trailer teases with a fully nude high kick, seen from behind. The full movie, naturally, must make liberal use of dark lighting and foreground objects to deliver on its promise, but by then we've already paid for our tickets, so it has done its work. Naturally, the DVD cover art also features our heroines au naturalle.

WOMEN ON THE RUN is not about nude kungfu. There's a movie to be made, there, come to think of it, but this isn't it. Instead it concerns a mainland girl (Tamara Guo) who becomes a martial arts champion, despite which she gets tricked by her boyfriend into becoming a drug addict and prostitute, which just goes to show some cliches are so powerful there is no escaping them. Once she kills her boyfriend, she escapes to Hong Kong for more prostitution, where she is caught by supercop Ah Hung (Farlini Cheung). After that, it is only a matter of time before the cop and the prostitute must team up to go undercover against mainland drug dealers and crooked cops and help each other wash in the shower while wearing handcuffs.

It turns out that men are bad. Not just some men, but all, ALL men. Boyfriends especially are usually plotting to kill you or sell you into prostitution. Men who aren't your boyfriend just like raping and killing. And this is an international phenomenon. Our heroes have to fight sadistic cops in Hong Kong, sadistic drug dealers in Guangzhao, and later, the entire population of Vancouver, a city which is graciously thanked in the end credits but made to look worse than a Cambodian death camp in the movie. At one point a group of roudy drunken men pile out of a van, stumble into the plot, kick a dog like punting a football, rape everyone in sight, and pile back in and leave, having nothing at all to do with the plot. Just a typical day in Vancouver, apparently.

This frenzy of violence and nudity and most especially violent nudity is brought to you by Corey Yuen, the director and action choreographer of many a Jet Li film. The fights are fantastic, really almost too good for a film of this nature, and in light of the fact that most people are just watching to see some nude kungfu, totally unnecessary. But they are in the movie anyway, making it a must see for Hong Kong action fans who like absurdity (and, as I may have mentioned already, nudity) in their movies. Tamara Guo performs the nude action scenes with gusto, while Farlini Cheung prefers to keep her points covered and fights instead in spandex or wildly inappropriate dresses.

A good, decent man wouldn't enjoy this at all, but since we're all such evil bastards I wouldn't know, and frankly neither would anyone else.

Rating: Recommended (Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on July 22, 2005.


Amusing review!

I just watched this film a few weeks back to settle a debate over whether it was Farini or Tamara who performs the nude martial arts sequence (I lost the debate, despite this being a longtime favourite!), but I seem to recall that the group of roudy, dog-punting goons ARE the men that Tamara battles in the buff. No big deal, but it IS one of the many memorable moments that makes us Canadians wonder in just what alternate-reality Vancouver they shot this movie.

For another Bizarro treatment of Vancouver in Hong Kong cinema, check out IT'S A MAD MAD MAD WORLD II, starring Bill Tung and Lydia Shum. In the early scenes, the city seems like a paradise to Tung's newly-transplanted Hong Kong family, as they all but dance through a clean, spacious Saveway Supermarket and are warmly greeted by Caucasian neighbors who sit in lawnchairs on their porches in the middle of January. But soon, they run afoul of crooked car dealers, gossipy wives, murderous truck drivers and cruel freshmen who prank poor Loletta Lee into running around campus in her bra and panties (Loletta's category III period was just a popped top away at this point).

Made me feel almost ashamed to be Canadian (except the Loletta Lee business, of course).



Posted by: Brian Thibodeau at September 14, 2005 10:25 AM
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