Beauty Investigator (1992) review

Since I’m a huge fan of Hong Kong cinema and I’m currently living in Hong Kong I figured I’d start to review some of the films I’ve been watching. Movies are a huge part of the culture here. It’s not unusual to find huge queues outside cinemas as early as 3pm on a weekday. One great thing for a fan like me is the availability of cheap 2nd hand films. VCD was (and still is to some extent) the most popular home video format in Hong Kong. For those who don’t know, VCD (Video CDs) is a low cost format which uses standard CDs to present films with Mpeg 1 video. Due to the limitation of CDs (around 700mb as opposed to DVDs 4.7gb) films are generally spread over two discs. Whilst new releases on DVD retail for around $95HKD (about £9) VCDs start at around $40HKD (under £4). One of my favourite areas of Hong Kong to shop is Sham Shui Po (which will no doubt feature in a tumblr post soon). There, amongst the stalls selling 2nd hand electronic goods, one can find thousands of VCDs, usually selling 3 for $10 (under £1!). Being a total movie geek I’ve bought a ton of films since I’ve been here, most of which I’ll probably never watch (a continuing trend for anyone who knows me back home). Anyway I hope to start reviewing some of the lesser known titles amongst my collection for this tumblr and cityonfire.com.

Theatrical poster (taken from musicman.com)

Review

Two bickering partners are ordered to go undercover at a hostess club in order to capture a ‘sexual maniac’ who is murdering women. Whilst scouting out the club they learn that a triad gang is planning a war with a rival Japanese gang over arms trading. In an attempt to impress their superior, the cops decide to take on both cases whilst avoiding a mysterious female Japanese assassin who is working for the Triad gang.

I love ‘girls and guns’ action films. For those who don’t know, this genre was widely popular during the so called ‘golden era’ of Hong Kong cinema in the 1980s. Typically, films feature female centered action scenes and a strong female protagonist (usually a cop) who must use her excellent fighting skills to beat the crap out of the bad guys and prove herself in a male dominated society. What’s unique about the genre is that, despite the obvious threat they pose, the women are very rarely sexualised and are shown to be just as skilled at fighting, if not more so, then their male counterparts. The films in the ‘girls and guns’ genre are generally low-ish budget B-movies packed with cliches that nevertheless delivery some great action and excitement. The genre launched the careers for such stars as Cynthia Rothrock, Moon Lee, Yukari Oshima and Michelle Yeoh.

Despite being a fairly average girls and guns actioner, I rather enjoyed Beauty Investigator. The scenes in which the two undercover girls try to avoid the advances of perverted old men are amusing and light-hearted, although the comedy is a bit forced at times. As always Moon Lee and Yukari Oshima are fantastic and deliver some great action scenes including an excellent car chase. Towards the end of the film there is a shocking and completely pointless twist that would have spoiled the film had it not been for the satisfying warehouse finale in which the girls blast and kick their way through hordes of bad guys.

Beauty Investigator doesn’t break any new ground and is as clichéd as they come, but that’s what I enjoyed about it; I knew exactly what to expect and the film delivered. And isn’t that what you want from genre cinema? Although the Universe VCD is rated Cat III, for better or worse the infamous Sophia Crawford shower scene was edited out.

8/10

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About David

Originally born in England, I moved to Hong Kong in August 2010 to teach English to primary school students.
This entry was posted in Cat III, Cinema, Film Review and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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