Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Babes, Bullets, and Martial Arts
Miguel B. Llora | Bay Point, California USA | 06/20/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Okay. I have to admit that it had everything. At the risk of sounding both racist and sexist -- I will stay with the obvious the movie was full of babes, bullets and lots of martial arts. Models Maggie Q and Anya Wu form the babes component. There is no shortage of weapons and gunplay, which forms the bullets component. Lastly, directed by Ching Siu-Tung, we are treated to tons of fairly good martial arts sequences. However, the remainder of the movie is a little suspect. The plot is predictable and is in no way near anything resembling a Femme Nikita. I am almost tempted to rank this film among the many "exploitation" films out there. Lets face it -- of all the movies made out there; perhaps 95% are designed to do one thing only to entertain. The remaining 5% attempt at least to make social commentary -- of which a select few really succeed while trying to entertain. Of the 5% there are also those who try but fail to enlighten or entertain and sadly some fail at both. It would be safe to say that this movie fits into the former 95% so it would do us no good to attempt any form of analysis but to simply enjoy it. All the possible discussion of feminine empowerment and disempowerment I will defer for another place and time.
Naked Weapon is a story about female assassins, kidnapped at a young age and trained by Madame M -- played by Almen Wong --another integral piece to the babe component. Upon the failure and death of a one of a kind assassin, Madame M takes stock and goes on a kidnapping spree to recruit fresh blood among the myriad of athletic, nubile and potentially erotic and exotic young girls. She takes them to a secluded island headquarters and forces them to undergo rigorous training that lasts all of about six years. The bevy of young girls -- as that is what they are when they were first kidnapped -- are taken to school to learn about guns, computers, feminine ways, and self-defense. Charlene (Maggie Q), Katt (Anya Wu) and Jill (Jewel Lee) form the core of fighters who will eventually engage in one another in a Battle Royal for a marquis spot in Madame M's stable of assassins and a piece of the action.
There was, however, one dark side to this one-dimensional almost harmless exploitation film - a splash of misogyny that really messed things up. I saw no real reason for the rape scene, which really degrades his starlets and the movie. I am not an idiot and will admit that this movie was nothing short of a guilty pleasure, but what heavily reduced the guilty enjoyment factor was the graphic sexual violence and the totally useless rape scene -- which I have to admit, was nothing short of off-putting. I know, I was not supposed to 'go there' but the film does not punish Madame M for her heinous acts and the three young women get short ended in a lifestyle that was not of their choosing.
The movie would not be interesting is there were no plot twist and turns. Charlene begins to develop existential angst and starts to miss her mother -- played by non other than Cheng Pei-Pei -- and risks a Hong Kong hit by bumping into her. Madame M, to say the least, is annoyed by Charlene's new distractions. Moreover, the character Ryuichi appears in deus ex machina fashion to terrorize the three young women. Not to disappoint, there are flashes of skin and a love scene and a disturbing rape scene ? so this is not for the squeamish. The short of it is, cinematography is good and the women are all dolled up. In an effort to fully exploit the pretty people almost everyone moves in slow motion with the obligatory wind -- in the right direction -- adds to the cheesy ambiance. It is a guy flick and it should not be seen as anything more than that. The camera is great to Maggie Q -- it can't miss. Admittedly there is action and it does not pretend to be anything but exploitation.
Brutal Rape Scene in Sadistic Actioner
Robert Payne | Los Angeles, CA United States | 10/18/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)
"When does a trashy movie stop being fun and start being repulsive? I've been asking myself this question ever since I saw Ching Siu-Tung's "Naked Weapon" (2002). Ching is one of my favorite action directors. His credits include the underrated gem "The Terra-Cotta Warrior" (1989) and better-known actioners like "The East Is Red" (1993). He also provided the fight choreography for several of Tsui Hark's films and Zhang Yimou's two high-profile martial-arts movies. So, seeing Ching's name on the credits of "Naked Weapon" instantly told me that the film would be a quality product. But I was not only disappointed -- I was revolted.
Now, I don't automatically fault a film for being a bit on the junky side. Cult cinema certainly has its place, and so-called "trash" aesthetics can have their own positive properties that are as intriguing as the more "respectable" ones employed by more prestigious films. So, just because some filmmakers might not take their subject matter seriously, or just because they might revel in the artificiality of their medium, that is not reason enough to condemn a movie. Films that utilize trash aesthetics include many of John Waters' intriguing works and several enjoyable romps from Hong Kong like Luk Kim-Ming's "Robotrix" (1993).
But "Naked Weapon" crossed the line from trashy action movie to something more disturbing. Perhaps we're not supposed to take the film's premise -- a secret Darwinian "school" for female assassins where the pupils must kill each other to "graduate" -- at face value, but the subject is viewed with a solemnly straight face, not with a cartoonish or ironic distance. Coupled with Ching's fierce fight choreography, the bloody, nerve-racking events faced by the main character, Charlene (Maggie Q), are harrowing in an unpleasant way. Like other films I detest -- such as Masaru Konuma's "Wife to Be Sacrificed" (1974) or Pier Paolo Pasolini's "Salò" (1975) -- "Naked Weapon" seems to encourage its audience to take sadistic delight in its lead character's misfortunes.
This unsettling element reaches its pinnacle mid-way in the film when the "school's" cold-blooded leader, Madame M (Almen Wong), drugs her surviving graduates (presumably virgins) and has them raped by her male guards. The scene is utterly gratuitous, and its gut-wrenching realism erases any ability to view the moment simply as a make-believe fiction. The "making of" documentary that is included on "Naked Weapon's" DVD interviews Maggie Q and the other actresses after the rape scene was shot, and the women seem somewhat traumatized by the experience. Why would a director want to put his actresses through such an ordeal? For what purpose? Furthermore, I would submit that the scene wants the viewer to identify with the rapists, rather than the women being raped.
Now, let me be clear: I am not arguing against all depictions of rape per se. The aquatic rape scene in "Erotic Ghost Story II" (1991) and the invisible rape scene in "The Eternal Evil of Asia" (1995) were too over-the-top to take seriously as portrayals of violence against women, as anything other than bizarre performances staged for the camera. And there are more substantial films about rape where the viewer is made to indentify with the victim. "Naked Weapon's" rape scene is in a different class entirely: a humorless, realistic moment where the (presumably male) viewer is allowed to relish the sexual suffering of beautiful women. Moreover, Madame M never gets her comeuppance in the story (suggesting that the rape didn't warrant punishment), and Charlene's climatic battle with an out-of-left-field villain implies that it was her ordeals with Madame M -- including the rape -- that enable her to prevail. Rape, the movie implies, is a relatively positive stepping stone toward female "empowerment," something akin to a difficult step in a Shaolin student's martial-arts training.
Some comments elsewhere on the Internet say that the rape scene in "Naked Weapon" shouldn't be taken seriously. But the moment is played very seriously in this very serious film. Others say that the scene should be taken within the context of the action genre. I disagree: "Naked Weapon" is already a very grueling film about scantily clad women inflicting pain on each other in order to survive. The action genre mandates neither the Darwinian violence of the "student" assassins against each other (I kept waiting for the girls to rise up against Madame M) nor the male viewer's pleasure in female suffering. I'm appalled that anyone -- especially a director I respect -- would find this sadistic portrayal of rape and violence entertaining.
NOT A LOT OF NAKED, BUT LOTS OF FIGHTING AND VIOLENCE
the kung fu kid | 03/14/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"NAKED WEAPON is the story of a group of young girls who are kidnapped by an evil madame (Alma Wong) and imprisoned on a secluded island to be tortuously trained into unfeeling assasins who lure their victims in with their bodies. Those who try to escape will die. Those who stay will one day fight eachother to the death. Only one will be allowed to become the supreme assasin.This is a pretty interesting variation on LORD OF THE FLIES type survival as innocent girls who form friendships with eachother must determine which is more important, friendship or life. Those who rent the movie based on the sexy cover which features two attractive women embracing eachother while wearing nothing but camoflauge skin paint might be disappointed to find out that this isn't a movie filled with gratuitous nudity and lesbianism. There is some brief nudity (by the beautiful Maggie Q) as well as some tantallizing strip tease type bedroom dancing, but the these are all quite tastefully done, and the two women on the cover are strong sister-like friends not lovers.Highlights of the film include the wonderfully choreographed royal rumble to the death with the girls drawing numbers to see who will fight first beginning with two on two and the number of entrants increasing as each fight ends to take on the survivor! This is where the director (famed action director Tony Siu-Tung Ching of DUEL TO THE DEATH, FIST OF LEGEND, THE SWORD) really shines. The fights are high flying and lightning paced with each movement of action and emotion visible to the viewer's eye. The best action scenes invovle not only beautiful movements, but actors that actually ACT in those scenes as well showing signs of human wear and tear such as fear, pain, and growing exhaustion. You really see the girls go through these changes as the fights go on making you really root for your particular favorite to make it (although there's really only a few logical favorites to root for based on character screen time). Other highlights include the chemistry between Daniel Wu's character and Maggie Q's (former real-life boyriend and girlfreind), and the climactic final battle between the top female assasin and a Japanese yakuza leader which should impress fans of MATRIX style gravity defying action. Also those who hate dubbed films will be pleased to know that this film is in English with only a couple actors dubbed.Lowlights include Daniel Wu's acting which is very limited. While his scenes with Maggie Q are a real delight in their naturalness and truthfulness, he does NOT seem believable either as an obsessed cop or as a fighter (his fight scenes are good and his actions are fine, but the weak character he has given us make his fight scenes come completely out of the blue making them feel a little empty). Other lowlights include the lack of screen time given to the other female characters. Alma Wong doesn't have any fight scenes, Jewel Lee has no lines, and Cheng Pei Pei is horribly dubbed and also doesn't fight. The movie moves a little too fast for any of these characters to fully develop relationships with eachother and with the audience.I recommend the film to those looking for a fast-paced movie who like beautiful women in fancy fights that come fast and aplenty. (There's a LOT of violence and some sexual content and this movie is definitely NOT recommended for children.)Fans of female assassin type movies may also want to check out NAKED KILLER (this films prototype and superior), HER NAME IS CAT (in which Alma Wong gets to play the lead assasin), BLACK CAT (starring the lovely Jade Leung), and LA FEMME NIKITA (a grandaddy, or rather grandmommy, of its type)."
A sexy action movie.
S. Kuy | Seattle, WA | 02/28/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this movie and I was surprised how good the action scenes were. There is only english speaking in this Hong Kong movie, and there's no cantonese. I thought the storyline was kinda interesting. It's about a woman who was kidnapped when she was a kid and trained to be a professional killer along with other girls. Then things changed for her during a mission in HK, when she was seen by her mother and caught by a CIA agent who recognize her when they were kids. After that, there's some twist and turns in the storyline. What I liked most about this movie was the action scenes. There's a lot of cool martial arts fighting and unique killings. Some of the action scenes are matrix like. The fighting scene I liked the most was Maggie Q fighting Jewel Lee at the house, because of how the fight ended. What I didn't like much in this movie was some of the music. The music is kinda cheesy and some of the acting was weak."