中華戰士 (1987)
Magnificent Warriors

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 01/19/2007
Summary: not an 'indiana jones' clone...

ming (michelle yeoh) is a pilot, adventurer and mercenary, who travels to kaal city which is occupied by the japanese. the japanese, are applying pressure on youda (lowell lo), the lord of the city, and they want to build a poison gas plant there. luckily youda has been working with agent sky 001 (derek yee), a chinese agent, who is working to oust the japanese. ming, along with a wandering con-man (richard ng) and youda's girlfriend, chin chin (chindy lau), joins agent sky in his struggle...

david cheung, best known as a cinematographer, only directed a handful of films; two of these, 'it's a drink, it's a bomb' and 'i love maria' are rather silly favourites of mine, as is his less silly 'royal warriors', the first of the 'in the line of duty' series. here, cheung teams up with michelle yeoh again and, although the film isn't as good as 'royal warriors', there's plenty of fun to be had.

the action comes thick and fast; michelle uses here unquestionable martial arts talents, a whip, various traditional weapons, a variety of guns and explosives in her battle against the japanese. chindy lau and derek yee provide adequate support with their fighting talents, whilst lowell lo and, in particular, richard ng provide the comedy relief.

the plot is pretty straight forward, but the relentless action makes up for any deficiencies.

a fun watch...

Reviewed by: sharkeysbar
Date: 12/24/2006
Summary: great fights, less so the storyline

I enjoyed this 1987 film, mostly for the great fights of Michelle Yeoh with whip in hand. However the storyline is quite weak and it left me feeling a little disappointed as the story line has great potential but fails to deliver. Michelle playing a rebel and carefree aviatrix flying around China's borders could have added more to the story, but that was only used to set up the fights in the isolated city. Actually the walled city is a great effect as it put a spin on a rather common story line.
The film suffered from the usual silly things, like "30 seconds before their execution" confessions and an endless supply of Japanese imperial soldiers coming out of nowhere (and were they driving US jeeps and Chinese Jiefang trucks?).
Yet despite all the shortcomings, it is still a very enjoyable adventure with a lot of great action, don't expect (and who would?) high brow art house, hehe.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 12/03/2006
Summary: Hmmm.............

I felt the script was cheesy,i mean when they get tied up, THATS when they decide to tell there life story???

The action is a little over the top,to get away so easily, are they that good?
but Michelle yeoh is impressive when she fights with the whip/rope, and Derek yee, after watching many Shaw brothers movies looks old!! Richard Ng is the the bumbling comic relief but the script is not funny.

Watching this movie again, for myself is not going to help with my rating.
Only watch it for the action

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 07/11/2006
Summary: Better second time around.

Sometimes re-watching a film reveals some real gems. First time I watched MAGNIFICENT WARRIORS, I remember how dull and uninspired it all was – although even then I’ll admit to it having some good action set pieces.

What we have in terms of plot is basically (yet) another case of ruthless Japanese bad guys during World War 2 being bested by the underdog Chinese. It never fails to amaze me how popular this sort of theme can be at times in Japan…I don’t know what the Japanese box-office returns were like, but it does seem to be a fact that they rarely take offence over this kind of movie. I mean, the whole depiction of them is never going to be too favourable, is it?

Michelle Yeoh (or “Khan” as she was in those days) plays a female adventurer somewhat in the Indiana Jones mould, but with more of an ability to convincingly kick the crap out of people than Harrison Ford’s character. Like the ARMOUR OF GOD films, any likeness to the RAIDERS films is superficial, but at least this one’s set in the right era.

The story (if you want to call it such) involves a small township invaded by the Japanese and…well, you can pretty much guess the rest. There are certainly no surprises on that score. It’s all just a premise to hang some action sequences on, that’s all. And you know, sometimes that ain’t a bad thing! She certainly lights up the screen more in this than any other I can remember off-hand.

There are also some good humorous touches in this one too. Normally, I can take or leave Hong Kong comedians (Hui brothers excepted) but Richard Ng was/is one of the best of the bunch, and his character in this made me laugh out loud on a couple of occasions.

I really liked the Biplane too – in Hong Kong terms, that’s really pushing the boat out in terms of period detail (although of course biplanes were obsolete by the time this film was set, the point is that it was supposed to be a knackered and old plane in the story). You can’t help but wonder where they got it from and what percentage of the budget it took up!

I’m really glad I re-watched this one now, and I can’t wait to watch it again!

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 08/21/2005
Summary: Magnificent Michelle or....

Mrs. Dickson Poon defeats the Japanese Army. I may be wrong—not at all unusual—but the pawprints of some cultural bureaucrats of the People’s Republic of China may be all over this movie. While Michelle Yeoh is most definitely the star and the main reason to see “Magnificent Warriors” it is the Chinese people (one might even say Chinese workers and peasants) who ultimately triumph over the forces of Imperial Japan. And it is through total self-sacrifice—destroying the town and their own homes—that they are able to win. That this fits very well with the (at that time) official view/myth/history of the Chinese struggle to keep from being incorporated into the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere may be coincidental. Or it may not be, given that the producers would have needed permission to shoot on the endless plains of the western part of the People’s Republic.

While there may have been political give and take in order to secure the locations, the result is a perfect vehicle for Michelle Yeoh and an excellent action movie. The good guys are very good; the bad guys are very bad; the forces of brotherhood and justice prevail over those who would enslave the peace-loving citizens of China. And not only enslave them but put them to work in a poison gas factory they plan to build at the isolated city of Kaal—at least have those work who are survive the poison gas experiments.

Michelle looks great in full “Smilin’ Jack” drag—leather helmet, goggles, even a long silk scarf—as she pilots her biplane over the trackless waste. Her action scenes—which occur every few minutes—are terrific. Some of us may take the Michelle Yeoh of the mid to late 1980s for granted. She did everything so well that it looked effortless. Which is, of course, one of the marks of a true professional—hard stuff looks easy. But she needed a very high level of fitness, flexibility and strength needed for this role, something that one acquires only through constant work. This is where here ballet training may have been most important—not so much the ability to move gracefully but the background of taking class six days a week for years. Just about everyone in ballet takes class every day, some several times a day. It is an excellent way to instill the discipline needed to be a marital arts movie star.

“Magnificent Warriors” has plenty of flaws. Structurally it is a mess. It is basically a long string of well done action scenes—Michelle kicking, Michelle with a whip, Michelle laying waste to thieves who made the mistake of trying to cheat her on an arms deal, Michelle in air to air combat with a Mitsubishi Zero. Occasionally there are interruptions so we can get to know the characters which seem tacked on. The worst is a scene in which Ming (Michelle), Wong (Richard Ng) and Agent Number One (Derek Yee) are tied up awaiting execution by the Japanese. They take the time to get to know one another, talking about their past, how they got where they are, etc. There may as well have been a red light flashing in the corner of the screen and the word “Exposition” in a crawl under the subtitles.

“Magnificent Warriors” is due to the almost constant presence onscreen of the Magnificent Michelle and the almost wall to wall action scenes.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: Gaijin84
Date: 06/18/2005
Summary: Michelle Yeoh to the rescue!

Michelle Yeoh stars as a supply pilot in what seems to be western China, where endless plains dominate the landscape. She gets involved in a resistance against an attempted take over of a strategic trading town by Japanese imperialists. The resistance's leader (Derek Yee), a bumbling con-man (Richard Ng) and a feisty female sidekick (Chindy Lau), and michelle fight the Japanese, get captured, escape, and lead an all out war by the town against the invading army. With plenty of martial arts and crazy action to go around, this film should be enjoyable to anyone that likes early Jackie Chan films (Project A, Police Story, etc.).

Michelle Yeoh carries this film with her usual blend of great martial arts and insane stunts. Although obviously influenced a great deal by the Indiana Jones movies, Magnificent Warriors manages to hold its own. With skilled comedic actors like Richard Ng, the good supporting cast makes the film fun. Although the plot is somewhat confusing, Michelle's charisma, acts of daring and incredible fight scenes and action prowness make up for any glaring story holes. Look for Lo Meng (Toad from the classic Shaw brothers kung fu flick Five Deadly Venoms).


Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 08/26/2002
Summary: Average

Although some people do treat this as a classic of its kind, I personally never found this film very interesting. I will agree that the action sequences are pretty impressive, just like most of Jackie Chans old films. But, as I've said for these kind of films before, there is more to them than just action, and unfortunatly there isn't much more to it of any interest. Richard Ngs comedy keeps it entertaining for some of the time, but not nearly enough to make it good enough for me to recommend.

One for Yeoh fans only I would say.


Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 02/22/2002
Summary: Some of the best action sequences ever filmed

I do like Hong Kong Legends... their discs definitely breathe new life into old titles, and provide almost a new viewing experience. The first time I saw Magnificent Warriors was actually just last year, as the second half of a double bill at the 4 Star Theatre in San Francisco. I was half-asleep at the time, and when I left the theatre all I could recall was that there was hardly a minute of the movie when there wasn't fighting/shooting/exploding going on, and this one 20 second piece of music that seemed to loop through the entire movie. I remembered "Good action, bad movie".

This time round I was wide awake, and discovered that there is more to the movie than just action - there's actually a story there, and it's a good one. A little cheesy perhaps, and virulantly anti-Japanese, but this *was* the eighties. Michelle plays a chirpy adventuress in the mould of Indiana Jones, who gets sent on a mission to rescue a double agent (Lowell Lo, not annoying here for once) from a remote mountain village under occupation by the Japanese Imperial Forces. Here she teams up with Agent 001 (Derek Yee I presume) and wandering con man Richard Ng. Richard provides the comic relief, and is incredibly cute and endearing here. Derek is a little bit of a blank face leading man, but carries himself well in the action scenes. Michelle is the true driving force of the movie though, and she is just incredible here... her energy and commitment to the action scenes really shows, and she performs some jaw-dropping work here. All the while carrying a wonderfully cheery smile :)

Action scenes do not actually acount for 98% of the movie, contrary to my earlier impressions. They do take up probably over 50% of the running time though. If ever a movie was "Action Packed!", it was this movie. There's endless sequences of amazingly choreographed fight and stunt work, including some of the best sequences ever commited to film in my opinion. Michelle is stunning in her power, speed and flexibility - the sheer variety of moves she pulls off is amazing.

The movie is much better than I remembered it being as well - it's well paced (i.e. fast paced), but introduces the characters just enough to get you to like them. There's funny moments and dramatic moments. And a couple of embarrassingly cheesy moments, it must be admitted. The soundtrack does feature more than one piece of music, but it is still guilty of being repetitive and often inappropriate. This is one occasion where I wouldn't actually mind Miramax replacing the score.

Magnificent Warriors turns out to be not just an action masterclass, but also a nicely rounded movie, and a fantastic testament to Michelle Yeoh's position as the world's pre-eminent female action actress. The 15 minute interview on the HKL disc also shows what a nice, down to earth and dedicated person she is. Still cute, too <g>


Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: danton
Date: 02/18/2002

One of Michelle Yeoh's early D&B films, shot prior to her retirement. It's the kind of movie that HK doesn't seem to want to make anymore, with a modicum of plot garnished by some HK-style humor, and filled with generous helpings of straight martial arts action.

Michelle plays a female version of Indiana Jones who gets entangled in a conflict between locals and the Japanese occupation army some time in the thirties. She is helped along the way by Richard Ng playing a conman and by a number of assorted good guys who all band together to fight their way through hordes of evil Japanese henchmen. No MTV-style editing or flashy Andrew Lau-style CG FX here. The camera just sits back and lets you enjoy the intricate choreography and Michelle's balletic grace.

Unfortunately, the movie has grander ambitions; it tries to play in the same field as similar Hollywood blockbusters, but doesn't have the kind of budget required to impress on a grand scale. So whenever the movie goes from human stuntwork to big FX shots, it becomes kind of silly. For example, why did they have to include aerial battles between Michelle in a biplane and a Japanese Zero fighter? Especially considering that most of it is obviously two model planes?

That being said, the movie is still very enjoyable in a comic book sort of way. You never get any sense of true danger, even when the heroes are tied to poles awaiting their execution by shooting squad, they still seem relaxed enough to banter around, because they know the screenwriter will come up with some twist that saves them...


Reviewed by: AgntFenris
Date: 05/30/2001
Summary: Young Yeoh!

Fun! Good action, good characters, and Michelle looking cute. A slew of good action scenes revolve around an "Indiana Jones-esque" pilot and how she gets involved with driving Japanese invaders from a town with the help of a Secret Agent. Definately reccommended for action fans, a must for Michelle Yeoh fans.

Reviewed by: leh
Date: 12/09/1999

World war II action movie, fairly entertaining but with a very weak plot. Some good martial arts from a very young-looking Michelle Yeoh (billed as Michelle Khan).

Reviewed by: hokazak
Date: 12/09/1999

One of the first 3 Michelle Khan movies, from the period before her"retirement." Michelle is a biplane pilot/spy working against the occupying Japanese forces in China in the late 1930s or early 1940s. Richard Ng is a poncho-wearing itinerant swindler who accidentally gets tangled up in Michelle's mission to rescue a local ruler, who is pretending to support the Japanese occupation forces while actually working to subvert their hold on his province. Some nice stunts, and Michelle w/ a bullwhip (Indianna Jones-style) and comic relief from Richard Ng make it fairly watchable, but it's definitely not up to the standards of Yes Madam! and Royal Warriors/In The Line of Duty. [The Indonesian version with Dutch subtitles that I saw was nearly ruined by the terrible English dubbing and the annoying musical score.]