The Blonde Fury (1989)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2007-11-08
Under the credits we see scenes from a presumably American city of tough looking men with large wads of one hundred dollar bills exchanging them for packets of something. It is late at night, the streets are mean, rain swept and awash with neon. It is 1989, the era of "King of New York", "New Jack City", "Boyz in the Hood" with the emblems, icons and symbols of an American gangsta movie accounted for. It will be centered on the drug trade and will star at least one actor whose first name is "Ice". But since the credits are in Chinese, perhaps something else is afoot...

We quickly find out that Cynthia Rothrock, playing a police officer as comfortable in Hong Kong as she is in San Francisco, is not a comic actress or a particularly sexy one, even when bumping into people in the first case and luxuriating in a bath in the second. Soon, though, she is laying waste to a score of thugs who are part of the counterfeiting of U.S. currency that she is investigating. They make the mistake of attacking Cynthia with clubs and knives so have no chance against the blonde spitfire. The first action scene is both vertical and horizontal, taking place in the building housing the presses and also on bamboo scaffolding on an outside wall. The movie proceeds in two distinct parts, not really held together by a plot as thin as the paper the phony bills are printed on. One part features Cynthia showing her fitness, skill and speed as a martial arts actor while the other is a not terrible Hong Kong comedy/drama/crime movie with gangsters who kidnap and drug Chief Prosecutor Yu who then makes a fool of himself in court, an incompetent reporter for a failing newspaper who stumbles into the middle of a hot story and becomes part of it and a police officer pretending to be an insurance investigator who, in order to keep his cover, has to put up with being knocked around regularly. While both parts have the same overlapping cast and occur during the same time and in the same place there is no question that Cynthia and some very tough and hard working stuntmen are the stars of the the action section and the ensemble of talented Hong Kong regulars starring in the portion that doesn't involve punching bad guys with the blonde faux-reporter there mainly as motivation for the other actors' big scenes.

The action is exemplary. There is an extended and very brutal looking fight between Billy Chow and Mang Hoi that is as good as anything one might see in any action movie. Cynthia Rothrock did most of her fighting wearing shoes with a heel. While not exactly stilettos--more like dance pumps with a slightly higher heel than usual--it seemed that she was wearing them to underline the gender difference among her, her allies and her enemies and possible to highlight her skill, much like the oft quoted remark about Ginger Rogers that she did everything Fred Astaire did but "backwards and in high heels." While this may have been the case--the camera focused on their footwear in a couple of scenes--they also turned out to be formidable weapons. She got the best of an otherwise unbeatably menacing opponent by driving the heel of a shoe into his thigh like a knife and then kicking the wound until he collapsed.

The action finale is superb although completely over the top. It begins with a fight on a suspended cargo netting which reprises the first big fight on the scaffolding and continues in the claustrophobic alleyways between huge containers on a dock. The first part of the finale ends with Cindy besting a thug--Jeff Falcon looking fit and deadly as always--in a fight using flexible poles then climbing up the front of a truck which runs over him. The kidnapped Judy Yu is tied up and stretched between the tractor and trailer of the speeding truck, at least as dire a predicament as being tied to a railroad track with a speeding train in the distance.

There were many flashes of comedy, made all the funnier by not being the focus of the film. One was at the office of the bankrupt newspaper. A call came in that there a dismembered body had been found in a remote location. Instead of rushing to the scene the reporters, obviously repeating what they had done many times already, shot photos of a secretary’s leg and arm each covered with red fluid to serve as the blood spattered body parts. Prosecutor Yu is finally cured when a nurse, busy stealing his swallow’s nest soup while giving him electro-shock treatments, first accidentally gave him some much heavier shocks than prescribed and then dropped the soup on the shock machine control, shorting out the entire hospital floor and giving the prosecutor such a jolt that he was spontaneously cured. And there is a scene that is centered on the line “pick up his dropped eye” that beggars description but is not only funny but surprisingly so.

Taken as a whole (which it can’t really be) “Blonde Fury” is either a comedy with a lot of well staged and realistic looking fights or a martial arts movie with a lot of genuinely funny scenes. Either way it is recommended.
Reviewer Score: 7