Brush Up My Sisters (2003)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2006-08-29
“Brush Up My Sisters” begins promisingly but heads almost straight down from there. The opening scene has Teresa Mak dreaming about the rape and murder of her beloved sister, a nightmare that seems to continue when she awakes to find her sister seated in a chair next to her bed. Teresa, as Lin, then awakes to the emptiness, alienation and guilt of the survivor who feels she should have somehow kept here sister safe. It was a decent set-up for a suspense/horror movie but since this is a silly sex comedy the darkness and fear shown in this scene aren’t related to anything that comes afterwards.

“Three girls join the police academy”—however this isn’t a Charlie’s Angels clone. Lin wants to exorcise her sister’s ghost and kill her murderer. Since she hasn’t been able to get a gun on he black market, she decides that being a police officer is the next best way to obtain a firearm so she can deal with him. Yam Ying Ying (Natalie Ng) wants to catch the eye of a handsome patrolman who will only date a policewoman; Kammy (Pinky Cheung) is a tabloid reporter who needs a break and who convinces her boss to let her uncover the hot Lesbian love nest in the Academy. The tough as nails drill sergeant, Cheung, is played by the gorgeous Jade Leung. Obviously the comeliness content of this movie is high and the director made as much use of the charms of this alluring quartet as the ratings board allowed.

Teresa Mak is flamboyantly attractive with her generous lips, bedroom eyes and seemingly effortless come-hither look. Natalie Ng is almost (but not quite) too cute and adorable—one good decision made by the director and editor was to cut away from Ng in each of her scenes before her perkiness became cloying. Pinky Cheung projects a sexiness that her character uses to keep her always precarious life from imploding. Jade Leung is buttoned-down, collected and taciturn as the Yes Madam who has untold reserves of provocative sensuality beneath the surface.

The Academy for Hong Kong policewomen must be a filthy place—the cadets have to shower quite often and the physical training is tough enough that they have to give each other massages to take the kinks out of overworked muscles. The actresses—there are a number of them form whom we don’t have credits—are wrapped in towels or shot in such a way that their modesty is preserved but debauchery (or at least nudity) is hinted at.

One of the girls learns a salutary lesson—Yam’s paramour, Patrolman Kwok (Jackie Liu) tells her that the academy is a place to learn to be a good cop who serves the community and that he isn’t interested in her unless she graduates near the top of her class. Patrolman Kwok comes across as a real jerk and worthy of the attention of only the most empty-headed women, a role that Natalie Ng nails perfectly. At one point he shouts at her that he is brilliant and won’t have a stupid girlfriend—which she accepts as a reason to work even harder although it would be more credible if she decided to find a less self absorbed guy.

Kammy discovers that being a police officer is better than being an unemployed journalist—her original assignment of uncovering the nonexistent Sapphic assignations being swept aside when her reptilian boss finds a sleazier story to pursue and is then fired and the magazine shut down. Lin is the most popular among the cadets—she is extremely attractive, is a naturally good shot with a pistol, and is tough and resourceful in hand to hand combat—but her situation can’t be wrapped up so neatly. There is a nice scene between her and Jade Leung in which the tough Yes Madam unbends enough to talk about a loss she has suffered and how she has tried to deal with it. This takes place very late in the movie and is one of the very few instances that allowed the audience to actually identify with any of the characters.

“Brush Up My Sisters” was shot on video. The images are often annoyingly sharp and it has a distracting extreme depth of field. Colors are either too brilliant or too washed out and the shot selection is very dull. There is a subplot involving diamond thieves which allow the three cadets to make a sensational arrest. This caper begins when two jewelers, carrying two million dollars worth of diamonds, walk down the sidewalk and are unable to figure out that they are being tailed by three thugs in a car which is driving just behind them on the street at walking pace. It ends with Lin and one of the crooks facing off and pointing guns at each other, a scene that goes on forever. There is a sub-subplot involving the theft of the cadet’s underwear which allows a few shots of them being angry wearing relatively skimpy costumes.

The uniform of the day at this academy—every day, all day—is camouflage shorts with cuffs, cotton tank tops, and fingerless leather gloves with lots of straps. All of the cadets look very fetching dressed thusly and the gloves give things a slightly fetishistic edge.

“Brush Up My Sisters” (I have avoided using the acronym—it isn’t quite that bad) is poorly written and dully shot and is only slightly redeemed by the undeniable charms of the four lead actresses.
Reviewer Score: 3