Tuesday, November 13, 2012

That's Money



                                                              1990
                                              Director: Simon Yun Ching
                  Starring: Yukari Oshima, Hui Ying Hung, Max Mok, Ng Man Tat

                                                        
Here's a really fun action comedy. It co-stars my favorite fighting femme, Yukari Oshima and supplies her with one of the best and most diverse roles of her career.

The plot is about as throwaway as it gets. Yukari and Hui Ying Hung (aka Clara Wai) work as secretaries at a detective agency run by Hui's brother (Ng Man Tat) and his assisstant (Max Mok). When Ng's character stumbles upon a large sum of drug money, he finds himself and his employees under seige from the gangsters (the rightful owners of said drug money as you could have guessed).

Director Simon Yun Ching (here going under the alias of Benny Wong... at least I THINK that's the deal) is one of the great underappreciated craftsmen in the 'Battling Babes' subgenre in general and Yukari Oshima's persona in particular. After this, he would go on to make The Osh's two best films, 'Dreaming the Reality' and 'Angel Terminators 2' (both starring fave tag team partner, Moon Lee). He more than anyone seemed to 'get' Yukari's unique talent and ability and displayed them in the most spectacular way possible in each film. Here, he initially dresses her in office attire that includes retro blouse with flowing skirt and spectacles. When she fends off a gangster, she has him cower and crawl under her fully exposed leg. Later in an attempt to rid themselves of a new hire that Hui sees as a rival for Mok's affection, Yukari briefly dresses in butch slick back hair and black leather outfit. She then pretends to 'come on' to her, going as far as feeling her up (!) before the horrified newbie flees. Both disguises are striking and so diverse that you can momentarily forget you are watching the same person. Interestingly, although shown to be the toughest and most dominant fighter of our heroes, it is Yukari that ultimately gets kidnapped, tortured (via spiders and lizards!) and in need of rescuing. Osh manages to make each extreme work perfectly. It really is a shame that she wasn't given more opportunities to display this kind of range. Hui Ying Hung plays off Yukari nicely as her more emotional, slightly less mature, but no less capable counterpart. She doesn't quite give off the same spark with Osh that the aforemention Moon Lee does, but as a veteran of later period Shaw Bros. classics ('My Young Auntie', 'Martial Club', 'Legendary Weapons of China') she is more than capable in the part. Her distict kung fu maneuvers contrast well with Yukari's harsh karate.

Though the broad humor doesn't always mesh with the excellent, hard hitting action and violence, 'That's Money' is still in the upper echelon of the late '80s fighting femme series. Seek this one out, especially if you're an Osh enthusiast.

                                                                     * * * 1/2




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