Godenzi stars as dedicated cop Mina whose ides of a honeymoon is a dangerous mission to protect a princess at a fashion show. When an attempted kidnapping is made on the princess, Mina leads a full-blown kick ass assault on the kidnappers but resentment builds when she gets all the credit over her team mates who are now also her in-laws! When their next case turns extremely violent, all out war is called against her and new husband Huang (Tony Leung), resulting in a tragedy that unites a family in grief into a lethal force in vengeance.
There are times in a person's film viewing life where a film that requires you to think, simply will not go down too well. During a fairly bad hangover where you feel sick and pretty much braindead for example. Fortunately there are film-makers the world over who realise that and cater for those times by making films that require zero brain activity, allowing those in even a catatonic state get the film's full enjoyment. She Shoots Straight is one of those films. Unfortunately I did not have a hangover when I watched, however, I do have one while I'm writing this.
Despite Sammo Hung being in the film, he sits back and lets his wife and a few other women take the lead in all areas - as characters and as the butt-kickers. His wife is Joyce Mina Godenzi and she plays the aptly named Mina. Having previously seen her in a small role in Eastern Condors I was looking forward to seeing what she could do in her own film. I figured Sammo must've figured she was capable of carrying the film herself which is why he cast her. Either that or he forgot their anniversary and this was his way of apologising! So what you get is a complete no-brainer film that delivers what you would expect from a 'girls with guns' (and fists and legs) type film. Lots of action, lots of crap acting, some from notable good actors, some rather unbelievable scenes and a completely over the top villain.
If you watch She Shoots Straight for any reason other than the action and fighting, then you are seriously going to be disappointed. The plot is a standard bad guy seeking revenge format, so there are no surprises or twists during the viewing journey. The acting is not of a great standard on the whole. It is functional throughout and gets the point across, but there are few scenes that fail to impress. The most noteworthy for me was Tony Leung's curtain call scene. I actually thought the scene was meant to be quite funny before I realised that it was meant to be serious and dramatic. Admittedly the events taking place on screen helped make it seem funny, I'll mention them more in a bit, but the acting was not really what I would have expected from an actor like Tony Leung Ka Fai.
Anyway, my hangover is making me feel like sh!t just now, so I'm going to skip everything else and just write about what the film is all about - the action. There are frequent action and fight scenes, quite a few of which do not hold back on the violence. The girls on the screen certainly give all the men a run for their money and then some. The action is fast, with lots of nice thrills here and there. From gun fights with bullets flying all around and into anyone who is in the way, to one on one fights, which are where the film shines. For me this is largely due to Yuen Wah's presence. Simply put. I think he's great. Early on in the film the majority of the action is in the form of gun-fights and car chases, but towards the finale the fist fighting plays a larger part and I liked it. Lots of nicely choreographed moves, falls that look bloody painful and butt being kicked. The main criticism would be that at times stunt doubles were quite noticeable.
The action was good, but it can not save the film from being just another average action film. With so many other elements dragging the experience down, you can't help but finish with a rather lacklustre frame of mind, a bit of a bitter aftertaste. A good example of one of those elements is Tony Leung's curtain call scene that I already mentioned. This scene reminded me so much of OJ Simpson's storming of the boat at the start of Naked Gun. If you haven't seen this, then basically what happens is a series of events that result in everything and anything hitting, hurting and happening to the character. If there was a rake on the set then the character would have stepped on it and got smacked in the face. It looked pure slapstick, but it wasn't meant to be. With so much focus purely on the explosions and action, those factors had to be absolutely top notch to make the film stand out in a crowd, unfortunately they are not, they are simply good. Unfortunately for She Shoots Straight in 90's Hong Kong cinema there was a very large number of good films along those lines.
Audio & Subtitles
Despite the Cantonese mono track being the original soundtrack for the film, I chose to watch it with the 5.1 mix playing. The majority of the audio still comes from front centre, but ambient effects and things like engine noises are spread effectively around the sound stage. It is nothing spectacular, but it does get the job done well enough.
The subtitles are almost perfect in grammar and spelling. The only error I noticed was the word "loose" was used instead of "lose" at one point. Other than that, they do the job.
One thing that HKL can almost always be counted on for is producing a good quality film transfer. There is no exception here. Detail levels look very good, colours are well produced and there is only a small amount of graininess evident. There are quite a few speckles and the like on the print, but nothing too distracting.
DVD & Extras
First up in the extras is a Hong Kong Heroines Gallery. Despite its name it is not a static picture affair, but features clips of Joyce Godenzi in Eastern Condors, Chingmy Yau in Naked Killer, Michelle Yeoh and Cynthia Rothrock in Police Assassins and Yukari Oshima in Millionaires' Express. Then there is a scrolling text biography on Joyce Godenzi, the original theatrical and UK trailers for She Shoots Straight, a minute long sound bite interview with Sammo Hung about Godenzi and lastly a Battling Babes Featurette. This featurette features interviews with several female action film stars and they give their impressions on the working life and difficulties involved in filming Hong Kong action films.
It is mindless entertainment, fit for a hangover, but as a film it is nothing more than average. If you are looking for good action, then it does have it, but there are hundreds of other films out there that have just as good action and many of those are better films too.