HEROIC TRIO (1993)
Hong Kong superhero flick opens with a rash of baby snatchings being perpetrated by an apparently invisible kidnapper. Even crime fighting superheroine Wonder Woman (Anita Mui) is having trouble cracking the case. She finds herself reluctantly joining forces with bounty hunter Thief Catcher (Maggie Cheung) when the mercenary is hired to rescue one of the abducted little ones. They discover the invisible fiend is actually a woman named Ching (Michelle Yeoh) who is working for an evil sorcerer (Yen Shi-Kwan) and his brutish henchman Kau (Anthony Wong). They turn the conflicted Ching against her master and the trio unite to take on the powerful villain and free the infants he plans to use for his sinister purposes.
Uneven but ultimately fun flick is produced by legendary Hong Kong filmmaker Ching Siu-Tung and directed by Johnny To from a script by Sandy Shaw. It’s colorful and has some fun over-the-top action sequences combining martial arts and superhero type action. The characters are straight out of a comic book and the cast gets the material just fine. It can be a bit heavy-handed with the soap opera level melodramatics and the sometimes dark and serious tone can conflict with some of the lighter comic book moments and more humorously toned sequences. Hence being tonally a bit uneven. The acrobatic action and amusing camaraderie between the characters, especially Wonder Woman and the bratty and arrogant Thief Catcher, more than makes up for it, as does the climactic fight with the supernaturally charged Evil Master. The effects are delightfully cheesy by today’s standards and done mostly in camera, and the sets are amusingly on a TV show level. Its heart is in the right place and overall wins you over with watching these three beautiful and talented actresses give it their all kicking bad guy butt.
Anita Mui is well-cast as Tung, a policeman’s wife who has a double secret life as superheroine Wonder Woman…no relation or similarity to the DC heroine. She plays it straight but also has some fun with the part. Maggie Cheung has a blast as the arrogant Chat aka bounty hunter Thief Catcher. She is a bit more over-the-top and has more of the comedic moments and that suits this versatile actress just fine. Recent Oscar winner Michelle Yeoh is also solid as the conflicted Ching/Invisible Woman. Her part is dramatically the heaviest as she is starting to regret some of the questionable things she’s done in Evil Master’s service. Rounding out the cast is Damian Lau as Tung’s unsuspecting police chief husband, Anthony Wong having fun as the brutal henchman Kau and Yen Shi-Kwan delivering a creepy and powerful villain in the aptly named Evil Master.
Overall, it’s not perfect but it can be fun. There are some colorful characters, fast paced fights and action and it does achieve a comic book tone. Being a little too melodramatic at times and going from dark to camp back and forth does make it tonally uneven, but it’s three leads help overcome its flaws to a good degree. Film is a good example of the type of movie the Hong Kong cinema cranked out in that era. The Heroic Trio reunited for a sequel Executioners later that same year.
Rated 3 (out of 4) butt-kicking superheroines.