Guardian Angel (1994)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2007-08-03
“Guardian Angel” is, for a Phillip Ko Fei movie, pretty good. Which may seem like damning it by faint praise by since most of his work is pretty bad even the faintest praise is notable. While there are more reasons to dislike than like “Guardian Angel” there are an unusual number of good points to the effort, including:

--Oshima Yukari at her tough as nails prime. She is fit, agile and talented and makes her foot to the throat move look effortless.

-- Chui Seung-Ha as Rose is terrific as a completely ruthless and skilled professional killer, although one troubled by the morality of summary execution of evildoers. She kills with the knife, the gun and even something that resembles a hatpin. Rose has no hesitation when confronted with her target—she is given a bit of extra motivation when killing the first one—but is full of remorse afterwards, becoming more troubled by scruples with each hit. Chui is a very attractive and talented actress whose committed performance was the best part of this movie.

-- Chi Kuan-Chun in a small but well written and perfectly realized role as a professional killer, the cool opposite of the white hot Rose. He was as stoic and existentially authentic a murderer as any created by John-Pierre Melville or Edward Dmytryk in the glory days of the French new wave or American film noir. He killed his target because he was given the assignment and expected no less from others, even someone sent to kill him.

There were a few competent parts—the final big gun battle that pitted Rose and her two advisors/protectors/controllers against a platoon sized group of armed thugs was decently staged and shot. The girls carried the day because they had more firepower than their enemies and shot a lot more accurately. The very first scene, in which Yukari and her partner are in line at a fast food place when a group of armed robbers arrive, had some real potential for both action and comedy—but Ko Fei followed his usual formula for making potentially exciting or entertaining material dull. Shots went on for too long, the cuts, when the finally happened were abrupt and intrusive and the characters spent too much time simply looking at each other.

Most egregious were the three or four all sex scenes which were simply dropped into the middle of things. At first they seemed like stock scenes that could have been ordered from the local “Porn r’ Us” outlet but there was one “did you see THAT” moment that was so stupid and so sloppy that it could only have come from a master of schlock.

The rest of “Guardian Angel” was not as bad, just the typical Ko Fei ineptitude which wasted a wonderful performance by Chui Seung Ha. Crime bosses came and went; some were killed while others were simply forgotten about after they were introduced. The actress who played Cherry, an undercover cop and one of Rose’s companions might have been talented but her role was so annoying that we could never tell from this movie alone. Cherry may have been there for comic relief but she seemed to be dropped in from another movie entirely. Robert, a policeman in Manila and Rose’s absent love interest, wouldn’t have been loved by his mother. He was a disloyal boyfriend, a criminally incompetent cop who got his informants to be killed and was always dumb as a post. The commander of the police murder squad and Rose’s superior officer couldn’t have inspired loyalty in anyone, at one point going so far as to explain to Rose that he was sending her on what looked like a suicide mission so that he would be in line for a promotion.

At least Ko Fei knew when he had a good thing in front of his camera. Chui Seung-Ha was onscreen a lot—and we missed her when she wasn’t there.

Unfortunately her performance and that of Oshima Yukari and Chi Kuan-Chun weren’t enough to save this one.
Reviewer Score: 4