Inspector Lau: You can run along now Chat, we don't need your services here.
Chat: Services? Commander, you make me sound like a hooker. But don't worry, I'm not offended. And this one's a freebie.
An invisible woman is kidnapping newborn babies who are destined to be emperors and delivering them to the mysterious subterranean supernatural Evil Master. The police are powerless, and the city must be saved by three very different women who share a terrible past. Anita Mui plays the mild-mannered wife of a police inspector who's also the mask-wearing, sword-slinging and knife-throwing crime fighter, Wonder Woman. Maggie Cheung plays the shotgun-toting, hard-boiled bounty hunter, Thief Catcher. Michelle Yeoh is Invisible Girl, the troubled but determined strong right arm of the Evil Master.
This film holds a dear place in my heart. I'm a big Johnnie To fan, who directed this movie early in his career, but when I watched this movie when it first came out in 1993, I didn't know who To was. To was not on my radar until 6 years later in 1999 when I watched one of his masterpieces The Mission. Before I digress further, this review is about The Heroic Trio.
I am not ashamed to admit I'm a comic books fan/reader (well not as much as I get older for lack of time). By now, you, my reader, should know I'm a big action movies fan as well as Hong Kong films fan. When I heard about this movie, my curiosity was piqued as it had 3 beautiful Hong Kong actresses in the lead roles as well as having that fantasy/comics quality about it.The colors, the costumes, the wire-fu, etc. The great Tony Ching Siu-tung served as the martial arts fight director as well as one of the producers. He is best known for being the director of A Chinese Ghost Story series and The Swordsman series. He is action choreographer on Hero, New Dragon Gate Inn, Shaolin Soccer, House of Flying Daggers and many more.
Everything about this movie screams cult classic!
- Bad guy eating body parts of people he just killed? Check.
- Flying Guillotine? Check.
- Rarely seen weapon in movies - Nine-sectioned whip? Check.
- Maggie Cheung in fishnet stockings, leather jacket, motorcycle-riding and wielding various fireams? Check.
But what elevates this movie for me from the base level of "Girls With Guns" movie is the 'hidden'/overt aspect of the plot. This was one of the films that had a theme of "9-7" (9-7 was what the Hong Kong people called 1997, the year that Britan relinquished control of Hong Kong and gives it back to China). The Hong Kong people didn't know what to expect when China took over. Many of its citizens emigrated elsewhere. Witness one of the biggest Hong Kong directors of the time, John Woo, making an exodus to Hollywood. There is this subtext that was in The Heroic Trio. China, Hong Kong and Taiwan - all mixing it up throughout history - may come to a head in 1997.
Michelle Yeoh is helping the Evil Master kidnap babies who have the destiny to be Emperor. The Evil Master is trying to overthrow the current government and revert back to an Emperor/Dynasty rule. Clearly Michelle's character represents China.
Maggie Cheung's mercenary character only takes jobs if the price is right. Hong Kong is said to be one of the financial crown jewels of Asia. Maggie's Thief Catcher represents Hong Kong.
That leaves Taiwan and Anita Mui's Wonder Woman.
If you haven't watched this already and like action movies with a slight touch of fantasy, check this out. If you love the "Girls with Guns" genre, they definitely check this out. I cannot recommend this movie enough! But when you watch it, just watch it for the surface story/action, don't think too much into the subtext I mentioned. Watch it a second time for the subtext.
Enjoy the full movie below!
Further information available here:
In case you missed my previous entries on Michelle in celebration of her 50th birthday yesterday, please check out:
- Happy 50th Birthday Michelle Yeoh!
- Michelle Yeoh in The Touch (2002) (Full movie)
- Michelle Yeoh's Ah Kam aka The Stunt Woman (1996) (Full movie)