Naked Weapon (2002)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2006-07-12
“Naked Weapon”, which could be subtitled “Let One Thousand Nikitas Bloom”, seems to be all over the place but, as other reviewers have pointed out, it never really strays far from the formula of beautiful women doing evil things. Daniel Wu’s character is so underwritten that he could have made it up as on the way to the set each morning and just about everyone else is a caricature. Almen Wong’s Madame M could be the Dragon Lady from the old “Terry and the Pirates” comic strip—not sure if anyone other than myself is old enough to remember that one, while Maggie Q is unable to impersonate an action heroine—she looks like a model trying her best but with inadequate coaching and rehearsal time which is most likely the case. Both are drop dead gorgeous, of course, as are Anya and Li Fei. The estrogen level really pins the needle during the scenes on the island which is a combination prison, assassin school and survival training camp. It is full of young women, generally dressed in clingy gym attire and doing lots of vigorous exercise. Since they are confined on an island there are also plenty of chances for them to get wet, which they do.

In keeping with every other part of the movie the economics of the criminal enterprise depicted make no sense whatsoever. Young women who have shown some type of potential lethal precocity disappear and are never seen again by their families. Stuck on a rock in the ocean administered by the insane Madame M and guarded by bloodthirsty soldiers of fortune, they don’t do anything but train and occasionally kill one of their numbers for about 15 years. And the graduation ceremony is really a killer—literally. It is a cage match that pits teams of girls against each other in a fight to the death using whatever weapons they can grab. Since only three fledgling murderers survive (only to be drugged and raped at their celebration dinner) unless Madame M and the organization she serves is able to collect tens of millions of dollars (U.S.) for every hit they would never see a dime of profit. This is especially a problem since after years of torture, killing, inhuman indoctrination and brainwashing the few girls left still are a bit unsure of the career that has been thrust upon them.

The action scenes are wretched—after one hit using the patented spine crusher method Katherine, who has been very credibly disguised as a call girl, is on her way out when a wayward cell phone rings. She is able to shoot her way out of the palatial albeit well guarded gang headquarters, but only with the cooperation of the thugs whose job it is to protect the kingpin she just killed. They pull their guns and stand around waiting for her to shoot them, dawdling with firearms in hand while Katherine does the “kick the shotgun into the air, spin around and grab it on the way down” move. It is the kind of thing the Michelle Yeoh, Cynthia Khan, Jade Leung or Yukari Oshima could have made look easy. But since none of them were in this movie, it just looked dumb. The climax of this much too long sequence occurs on the street while the assassin is making good her escape when a thug steps onto the balcony with a shoulder mounted anti-tank weapon—he shoots (from quite a distance and at an impossible angle) and her car is destroyed. In front of bumbling CIA agent Jack Chen, who has been having coffee a couple of tables away from Madame M, who is there to keep an eye on her investment. And who, after the get away car blows up...well, there isn’t much point in continuing since it isn’t supposed to make sense anyway.

Luc Besson started a trend with the rocket propelled grenade that was fired at Anne Parillaud as she jumped into the garbage chute in “Nikita”. It worked quite well then, ending the gunfight in the kitchen with a big bang, giving Nikita a way to escape and allowing Besson to play around a bit with an early version of “bullet time”. It put a satisfying exclamation point at the end of the sequence that began in the restaurant when Tcheky Karyo gave Parillaud her pistols. Unfortunately he spawned and arms race in offensive weaponry among incompetent bodyguards. The next step up from the shoulder cannon used in “Naked Weapon” might be a tactical nuke.

Some say there are movies so bad that they are good—or at least good in parts. I haven’t found this to be the case and “Naked Weapon” is yet another dreary confirmation. It is so bad that it is bad—it has nothing cute, campy or captivating, other than the undeniable physical charms of its female stars.

Not recommended.
Reviewer Score: 1