The Avenging Quartet (1993)

Posted in Reviews by - October 16, 2022
The Avenging Quartet (1993)

Four years before the Chinese handover, this Hong Kong action film is an exercise in reconciliation in which a spunky HK girl (Moon Lee) helps and summarily becomes roomies with a PLA soldier (Cynthia Khan) who is new in town, looking for her childhood sweetheart (Waise Lee), an art thief on the lam from the mainland. Both are young and single, they share a bed, get drunk and bitch about men, and Cynthia learns a few valuable lessons about consumerism. There may be cultural differences, but at least they share a common enemy: the Japanese. Here, the Japanese are depicted in broad, stereotypical strokes, personified by two main female rivals – the always enigmatic Yukari Oshima (as a lethal Lady Snowblood-type assassin) and slick criminal Michiko Nishiwaki, playing another one of her sadistic and sexualised baddie roles. They eventually join forces to locate a highly sought-after artwork which contains hidden references to Japanese atrocities carried out during the Second Sino-Japanese war, which is in Waise Lee’s possession. The artwork, although a ‘MacGuffin’ in narrative terms, comes to symbolise a patriotic motivation to restore Chinese pride, drawing commonality between the central characters and leading to some typically feisty action sequences. The final showdown places all four central women characters in a burning building as they kick the life out of each other. The title and iconic marketing for the film – featuring Michiko, Yukari, Cynthia and Moon in leather jackets straddling motorbikes and carrying machine guns – has come to personify the so-called ‘girls with guns’ sub-genre, but despite what the artwork might suggest, the film is mostly a benign, sickly romantic comedy told in the typically brash and chaotic HK style. Too much of the film is dedicated to Chin Kar-lok’s hapless cop character, who is desperately trying to woo his way into Moon Lee’s affections, despite the fact that her heart belongs to the moody Waise Lee. Overall, the film is mostly a misfire, but like most HK action films, it’s not without flashes of insane brilliance.

AKA: Avenging Angels; Tomb Raiders.

This post was written by
Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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