Sunday, July 18, 2004

Blonde Fury (Shi jie da shai)

* * ½ (out of four)
Seen 17 July 2004 at Coolidge Corner #2 (Midnight Ass-Kickings: Fu Fighting Females)

There are times when talking back at the screen is okay and times when it's to be disouraged. The entire audience basically has to be of the same mind for it to fly. One thing that makes it immediately okay is when the first scene is obviously dubbed, even though it's a pair of American men speaking English.

At least, I assume that was the first scene. I sort of came in during it, since I did the traditional "Coolidge Corner Wait Outside Until We're Ready" thing, only I don't recall hearing an announcement. (The folks there for Cool As Ice had to wait for Fahrenheit 9/11 to get out, but the Ass-Kicking started on time, without even the usual introduction from Garo).

The movie itself is pretty average. The weakness of the script really can't be overstated; it exists for no reasons other than to physically place Cindy (Cynthia Rothrock) and a few other fighters at certain locations to duke it out four or five times and pad the run-time to ninety minutes; it would be tough to piece together an actual plot. Neither Rothrock nor many of her co-stars display much in the way of acting chops to elevate their silly material. Sure, they probably only got one or two takes, but only Roy Chiao (as the prosecutor and father of Cindy's friend Judy) even appears to possibly be good enough to consider Blonde Fury slumming. Indeed, the best part of the between-fights material is when the clumsy subtitles form a likely-unintended double entendre.

But, there are fights. Fast, full-contact fighting which jolts the movie out of its stupor, good enough to make up for the stuff which has come before. Ms. Rothrock is damn impressive; she moves quick and hits hard, with an athletic style that calls to mind Yeun Biao. It's a shame that by the time Hollywood was ready for someone like her (a pretty girl who can kick ass without doubling), she was already saddled with ten years of low-budget Hong Kong and direct-to-video "baggage". When butt-kicking time comes, she's in her element.

Blonde Fury is a great midnight movie - it's got a goofy title, mockable subtitling, high-quality martial arts, and finishes up in time to catch the night owl bus home. Watch it without a crowd, or during any of the other approximately 160 hours of the week, and it's awful, but at midnight one the weekend, it's a blast.

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