Reviewed by: ButterflyMurders
Summary: Exit door
The thing I like about Wu Ma's films is that his female characters are generally quite strong. For instance, in "The Deaf And Mute Heroine" it's a female martial arts master who defends her male friend. In "Dead And The Deadly" it's the female who literally battles to save Sammo Hung's soul. And here is no exception. This time it's an film dedicated to the female characters.
Basically this film is about an all-female theatre troupe, based in Shanghai and run by Pops (Wu Ma). The main females are Tsui (Kara Hui), Shen (Ann Mui), Hsiao (Wong Yuk Wan), Sai (Lai Yin Saan) and Ching (Idy Chan). Being all-female, they are not looked upon in a favourable light by theatre goers, who happen to be mainly male, and so are constantly in dire financial straits. To top it all off, they run foul of the triad.
I said in the first paragraph that I liked Wu Ma's films because they generally had strong female characters. This one has not one, but five. Unlike some films with strong females, where they are almost become gender neutral, these are proudly females. They happily show off their curves and slip into sexy gear. Also, in a nice gender role reversal it's the main male characters, not female, who are somewhat ineffectual-Wu Ma basically is bullied by everyone while Lam Ching Ying is an ill, opium-imbibing musician mainly confined to his bed when not performing.
Much as I enjoyed the gender reversals, this film has a major flaw. It's melodramatic. Let me emphasize that. It's MELODRAMATIC. There's quite a lot of martyrdom on show-the rickback driver Mars dies as he valiantly attempts to deliever...throat medicine?! while Wu Ma and LCY martyr themselves in the end. Add that to the sister-bonding sequences and UGH, it's too much.
It's a shame, really. There are some nice parts, like where one performer contemplates her career after wrecking her vocal chords. The opera parts look nice, as well as the fights with some major ass being kicked. A highlight is when the entire female troupe, while in a restaurant, starts kicking major ass everywhere. That was great. I felt like cheering.
Overall it's generally watchable. 6/10