Lethal Panther (aka Deadly China Dolls) (1990) – Film review

Sibelle Hu plays a cop working for the HK branch of the CIA who investigating money counterfeiters operating in the Philippines. Meanwhile, the paths of two female assassins cross when they are ordered to kill one another to cover up two separate assassinations. one from Japan (Yoko Miyamoto) and one from the Philippines (Maria Jo)

This film is basically a rip off of two of John Woo’s most famous movies, The Killer and A Better Tomorrow with elements of Naked Killer thrown in for good measure. The film shamelessly swipes scenes from both films (Maria Jo goes “Mark Gor” on a restaurant full of goons in super slow-mo, her brother is basically a poor man’s Chow Yun Fat who plays harmonica etc) with the plot revolving around the assassination of a gang leader by his bratty nephew who wants to take over his counterfeiting business. Just like in The Killer, there’s even a middle man between the assassin and the gangs who pay her to kill who has trouble holding a gun!

There are some great action scenes in this film, with many shoot outs and some good kung fu. One scene I particularly enjoyed involved both assassins on separate missions, which are inter-cut highlighting their mirrored lives. The final battle in which Jo teams up with her younger brother to take on the nephew is entertaining if uninspired. The film has some very nice camera work, with a heavy emphasis on slow-mo, but is sorely lacking in originality and flair.

There’s also random sex scenes thrown in (hence the Cat III rating) which feel forced and the film is surprisingly gory, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This is a B-movie after all and one expects the “three Bs” – boobs, blood and bullets!

The film suffers from a few slower scenes, hilariously bad dubbing and inappropriate use of music from the “Halloween” soundtrack, but at least it actually attempts to make the audience care about the assassins, giving Maria Jo in particular a fleshed out background. Speaking of which, Jo is beautiful and steals every scene in the film. Sibelle Hu however is annoying as the HK cop on the trail of the counterfeiters and thankfully is barely in the movie at all.

Overall an enjoyable girls with guns action film. Not groundbreaking, but nevertheless entertaining.

7.5/10

Watch online –

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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.
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