Anita Mui was playing a completely different Wonder Woman, but Gal Gadot still
has a tough act to follow. The Cantonese superheroine also had her own
super-team, but they will not realize it until come together at the eleventh
hour. Frankly, Warner Brothers might as well scrap their upcoming reboot,
because who is going to care after the Metrograph reminds us of the spectacle
that is Johnnie To’s The Heroic Trio (trailer here), which screens as
part of their retrospective series Maggie Cheung: Center Stage.
Woman fights crime, as well she should, as the alter ego of Tung, the wife of
incorruptible Inspector Lau. Ching Ching, a.k.a. Sam, a.k.a., a.k.a. Third
Chan, a.k.a. Invisible Girl is a reluctant criminal, bound to serve a
supernatural eunuch determined to revive China’s imperial governance through
infernal means. That leaves Chat or Thief Catcher or Mercy, a bounty hunter
somewhere in between. She is played by Maggie Cheung, who rocks the wardrobe
and flashes plenty of action chops.
is a crime wave sweeping Hong Kong and not even the police chief’s family is
safe. At the behest of Evil Master (the name tells you all you need to know),
Sam (let’s use her shortest name) has abducted eighteen newborn infants, with
one more to go. One of those so-called “princes” will become the new emperor,
while the rest will be mutated into ogre-like killing machines, like the
finger-eating Ninth Chan.
Woman is out to stop the abductions, using inside information gleaned from her
husband. Upon learning his infant son is the next target, the chief hires Thief
Catcher to capture Sam, but this turns out to be a costly decision when the
mercenary makes a small tactical mistake. It very nearly costs her life as
well, but both Wonder Woman and Sam intercede to save her. Eventually, Sam is
going to join them in the fight for justice, once Ninth Chan gives her that
extra bit of heart-breaking motivation.
a film, Heroic Trio is pretty darned
nuts. To basically calls and raises John Woo, cranking the fog machine up to
eleven and including at least one scene with birds. If you are the pedantic
sort, this film just might make your head explode, but it has massive guts. Kids
die in this movie—like, a lot of them. Yet, it is still great fun, in large
measure thanks to Cheung. She plays the prima donna bounty hunter to the hilt,
preening for the press and laying down ultra-stylish beat-downs.
three heroines definitely got the memo and they came to play. Michelle Yeoh
gets to be the most tragic, whereas Mui develops some pleasing chemistry with
Damian Lau as the clueless Inspector husband, but they all kick butt and exude a
dangerous Irma Vep-like allure. Lau is indeed solid in support while Anthony
Wong radiates evil as Ninth Chan. It is always strange to see him in these
early thuggish roles, knowing he would evolve into an actor of tremendous gravitas
and an outspoken activist.
The term “over the top” does not do justice to the
lunacy of The Heroic Trio, but it is
tough to beat the combination of Cheung, Yeoh, and Mui. They just don’t make
superhero movies like this anymore. Highly recommended for fans of any and all
involved, The Heroic Trio screens
this Thursday (12/15) at Metrograph, as part of Maggie Cheung: Center Stage, along with other unforgettable Cheung
films, including Ashes of Time Redux,
Irma Vep, and fittingly Center Stage.
Labels: Anita Mui, Anthony Wong, Johnnie To, Maggie Cheung, Maggie Cheung at Metrograph, Michelle Yeoh, Superhero movies