To deliberately takes B-movie action preposterousness to wildly delirious levels in this work of inventive imagination and delightful campiness.
Dir. Johnnie To
1993 | Hong Kong | Action/Fantasy | 86 min | 1.85:1 | Cantonese
NC16 (passed clean) for violence
Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Anita Mui, Maggie Cheung
Plot: While one tough woman with an invisible robe has stolen 18 babies for her powerful master, two other tough women and the cops try to stop her.
Distributor: Media Asia
Subject Matter: Moderate
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Audience Type: Mainstream
Viewed: Oldham Theatre – Asian Film Archive
Long unavailable in a pristine format, Johnnie To’s The Heroic Trio is now restored in glorious 4K, which is a cause for celebration.
While To is more well-known for his crime thrillers like PTU (2003), Election (2005) and Drug War (2012), here we see another side of him as he takes B-movie action preposterousness to wildly delirious levels.
A film that is unapologetically campy, The Heroic Trio takes advantage of every ounce of its cringe-worthiness and turns it into cinematic gold.
Starring the hotshot trio of Maggie Cheung, Anita Mui and Michelle Yeoh, who play kickass women defying and toying with the laws of physics, To’s film pits good versus evil in the only way he knows best: by overloading one sensational action set-piece after another.
Mui plays Wonder Woman, a masked crime-fighter (her husband, a cop, doesn’t know this) who attempts to save several babies that have been mysteriously taken away by an invisible force.
“We need to save the babies.”
Joining her is Cheung’s Chat, who doesn’t take no for an answer, as she flaunts her motorbiking prowess and crazy fighting antics. Last but not least, Yeoh plays a skilled fighter under the devilish control of her nefarious master, who wants to find a special baby who could be auspiciously crowned emperor (of China).
As this is a Hong Kong production, one may read further into the ideological problem of China, which, in arguably the film’s most outrageous scene, literally attaches itself to the body of a Hong Konger in an attempt to control the mind.
Unlike other more frivolous fare, The Heroic Trio does make the effort to integrate political commentary into the action, without feeling forcibly tagged on.
A relentless picture of inventive imagination and pure entertainment, To’s work should enjoy some kind of cult resurgence as the new restoration makes it much more accessible.