Director – Mang Hoi – 1989 – Hong Kong – Cert. 18 – 90m
Action Sequences *****
Female FBI agent Cynthia Rothrock is sent to Hong Kong to put a stop to a counterfeit money scam operated by an editor out of a newspapers premises – on Blu-ray from Monday, June 26th
With New York facing a deluge of counterfeit banknotes originating in Hong Kong, and involving several felons with considerable martial arts fighting skills, agent Cindy (Cynthia Rothrock) is sent from San Francisco to Hong Kong to put the forgers out of business. She stays with her friend Judy (Elizabeth Lee) and begins working undercover as a reporter for the paper under Miss Miu. Going out to cover a fire with her camera, Cindy enters the blazing building and rescues a child, attracting the attention of rival publication photojournalist Shorty (director Mang Hoi) and his colleague (Chin Siu-ho). Shorty’s dad (Wu Ma) is the rival newspaper’s editor.
Cindy attempts to infiltrate the counterfeiting operation, but is discovered by Miu and escapes before she can see anything. Shorty, meanwhile, gets a lucky break and witnesses the abduction of Judy’s father, Prosecutor Yu (Roy Chiao), who is preparing the court case against the man behind the counterfeiting operation, newspaper editor Wang Dak (Ronny Yu). The kidnappers take the lawyer to Dak who sentences him in a kangaroo court and has Yu injected with liquid that reduces his brain capacity to that of a 13-year-old obsessed with the animated He-man series, Which results in the actual case being thrown out of court when Yu can reason about nothing else in the trial.
After Cindy has thrown a burglar (Fat Chung) out of Judy’s home and he has been attacked by Judy’s dog, Cindy, Shorty, his colleague and Judy rescue her father from the hospital, where he later has an operation that successfully restores his sanity. (As this indicates, the plot here doesn’t make a whole lot of sense; the film’s strengths and indeed its considerable charm lie elsewhere.) Determined to gain the upper hand, Dak has Judy kidnapped and the others go to rescue her.
For the finale, the vengeful Dak ties Judy between his lorry cab and its attached container with intent to dismember her and take as many of her friends with her as he dies.
But the plot isn’t the reason to see this: it’s the performers and the breathless fight choreography, sandwiched in between lightweight and likeable, if sometimes crude, lowbrow scenes of Cantonese comedy.
Rothrock, the first (and, indeed only) white Western woman to receive top billing in a Hong Kong movie is extraordinary in the action scenes, her limbs moving in each and every direction as she punches and kicks – sometimes backwards over her head – her way through the film. She scales walls and jumps from a warehouse floor to a balcony. She kicks furniture at the intruder in Judy’s house, fights one horde of assailants on bamboo scaffolding and another on a net in which the kidnapped Judy is imprisoned. Over thirty years on, the fight and stunt scenes remain effortlessly entertaining – a tribute to her skills as performer and those of director Mang, who also choreographed all the action.
Other cast members include Billy Chow, Jeff Falcon and Vincent Lyn.
Lady Reporter is out on Blu-ray in the UK on Monday, June 26th.
Original Hong Kong trailer: