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[personal profile] oyceter
(Original title: 刀馬旦)

This is a Tsui Hark movie from 1986 starring Brigitte Lin. There are other people in it too, but really, most of my memories involve Brigitte Lin dressing in a tuxedo, a uniform that is later adopted by many Japanese schools to be their boys' uniform, a military uniform, a foppish Regency-esque outfit, and a wet bloody shirt. The plot somehow involves Yuan Shikai and guerilla fighters attempting to overthrow something, but the subtitles weren't the best, so it was a bit difficult to tell. Also, as you may have noticed, I was a bit distracted by Brigitte Lin.

I watched this because [personal profile] rachelmanija has told me it is one of her favorite HK movies, that it involves the Peking Opera, that it stars Brigitte Lin, and that Brigitte Lin crossdresses throughout the movie. Sadly, it is also extremely hard to find, and after a few years, I managed to dig up the VCD in a random store in Hong Kong last winter. We just watched it today, and Rachel was a bit afraid that it wouldn't live up to her memories and that I would find it not worth my very long search.

I have to say, the beginning is a bit lackluster, with the exception of Tsao Wan (Brigitte Lin) in various awesome outfits. And then there is Sheung Hung, a singing girl who steals jewels and ends up embroiled in assorted rebel schemes, along with Pat Neil (worst transliteration ever! It doesn't remotely sound like this in Cantonese), a girl who longs to perform but isn't allowed to because only men are allowed on stage.

(Rachel is telling me to add that Brigitte Lin is really hot in this.)

I tend to do badly with plot synopsis anyway; Tsui Hark's movies are frequently incomprehensible; and although this one makes waaaaay more sense than Ashes of Time, I don't remember how the movie even starts, except with a guy in Peking opera make up going "BWAHAHAHAHA!"

Instead, you should all watch this movie because Brigitte Lin is really, really hot, but also because it has three awesome heroines who are allowed to have awesome action sequences. Occasionally the men do something, but I do not really remember what. Tsui Hark seems to have the same priorities I do, as the men randomly drop out of the story every so often, whereas there are many, many shots of Brigitte Lin looking awesome in uniforms, tuxedos, suits, and wet shirts.

Also! There are many scenes in which Tsao Wan tenderly comforts Sheung Hung and Pat Neil. She goes outside to drape her cloak over Pat Neil, who is heartbroken because her father has forbidden her to act! Romantic music swells! Romantic snow begins to picturesquely drift down! Rachel and I clutched each other and yelled, "Subtext! Text!" But little were we to know that it was just beginning. After the comfort scene with the cloak, we then move on to the three women.... in a pajama party! They drink and peer at a globe, with their faces so close that they were only fingerspans away from kissing! There was frolicking in white pajamas!

And there was a great scene with the three women and two of the rebel men all under a single blanket. The movie, by the way, had some great action sequences, in which everything happens in a nearly Rube Goldberg-esque manner. The death of the main villain in particular is AWESOMESAUCE.

And! There was the scene which I had been eagerly anticipating, as it was the only thing about the movie that Rachel really remembered aside from the Peking opera: Tsao Wan gets whipped! As we watched the movie and Tsao Wan avoided being whipped, Rachel thought she had made this up, although I said, "Yeah, but I also thought I made up the flying whale in Angel Sanctuary and the finger-eating villain and claymation skeleton in Heroic Trio!"

Lo and behold, Tsao Wan was captured by the villains, hung from two chains, and whipped. Normally I'm not that into the fetishizing of violence inflicted on the female body, but the scene didn't so much reduce her to a screaming girl, but rather made her seem heroic and awesome and stoic. It actually reminded me a lot of the torture scene of Daniel Craig in Casino Royale. The movie also plays dramatic music during it and shows the villains pouring salt water over her... in slow motion!

After, as Sheung Hung and Pat Neil go in to rescue her, Tsao Wan is TIED TO A BED. In her bloody wet shirt! Sheung Hung and Pat Neil were awesome as they rescued her, then the two girls are in bed again with a corpse to distract the villains, and then Sheung Hung and Pat Neil fawn over Tsao Wan and her bloody wounds and comfort her through all the dreadful hurts she has suffered. I could not be making this up if I tried!

Anyway, this movie completely lived up to expectation, and it joins Heroic Trio and So Close in my category of awesome action movies with not one, not two, but THREE awesome female action heroes. Except this one has really excellent action, Brigitte Lin (AWESOME), some very well-choreographed fight scenes, and great fan fodder. I think I am going to request this for Yuletide next year...

(no subject)

Sun, Dec. 12th, 2010 07:07 am (UTC)
the_future_modernes: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] the_future_modernes
Can you manage a picspam?

(no subject)

Sun, Dec. 12th, 2010 07:17 am (UTC)
rachelmanija: (Brigitte)
Posted by [personal profile] rachelmanija
You forgot to mention the subtitles, of which my favorite was "There's a woman! Knock her up!"

(Knock was apparently substituted for lock, as later in the movie someone says, "We have to rescue the men! They're knocked up in the police station!")

Ahhh, Brigitte Lin. So hot! So dashing!
Edited Sun, Dec. 12th, 2010 07:18 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Sun, Dec. 12th, 2010 02:37 pm (UTC)
Posted by (Anonymous)
It's the reason they wrote knock instead of lock that fries my brain. OK, I'm only assuming it's the reason, but I can't think of any other. N and L are similar sounds in Cantonese, like l and r in Japanese. So the dude at the HK Subtitle Factory thinks '(Chinese word) = l/nock, oh yeah nock has a k at the front.'

(no subject)

Sun, Dec. 12th, 2010 02:40 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] flemmings.livejournal.com
Oh rats, forgot I'm not logged in on this computer. That was flemmings @lj.

(no subject)

Sun, Dec. 12th, 2010 08:20 am (UTC)
m_pig: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] m_pig
Brigitte Lin is really, really hot, but also because it has three awesome

OK, is it so wrong that I read this as 'threesome'?

(no subject)

Sun, Dec. 12th, 2010 06:06 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] jinian.livejournal.com
I had NO IDEA that you hadn't seen this one! Wim made me watch it like the first month we were going out, and I've seen it at least once more since. It is made entirely of awesome.

(no subject)

Sun, Dec. 12th, 2010 08:10 pm (UTC)
m_pig: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] m_pig
I love that this was in any way a part of Wim courting you.

(no subject)

Sun, Dec. 12th, 2010 06:13 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] miz-hatbox.livejournal.com
I thought I'd dreamed this one too, but I think I remember seeing it in a theater.

(Or maybe I'm confusing it with Chinese Ghost Story? But...I remember the snow! And thee guy at the beginning!)

Peking Opera Blues

Wed, Dec. 22nd, 2010 02:49 pm (UTC)
Posted by (Anonymous)
Hi there, love seeing my favorite movie of all time getting viewed and "discovered" by people in 2010 (even though it was made in 1986).

A note on home videos: actually, depending on where you live, video versions of the movie can actually pretty plentiful. And am glad to report that the latest DVD version actually has improved English subtitles. (E.g., gone is the "There's a girl, knock her up" line :D) Also, its Extras include an English subtitled interview with Sally Yeh (though none, alas, with Brigitte Lin). :)



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