The Lady Is the Boss (1983)
Reviewed by: kiliansabre on 2007-12-10
Summary: An inferior comedy that doesn't hold up
Liu Chia-Liang plays Wang Hsieh Yun, a teacher of a martial arts school teacher who has just reopened the school after having to move due to the government building a road where the school once stood. The school's original master was to come and help open the school, but sends his Americanized daughter Mei Ling (Kara Hui) in his place, hence making her the senior and boss. Mei Ling feels Master Wang's techniques are old fashioned and take to long to learn, boasting that her father has changed the way he teaches and that she is the authority on how it should be done. The school has only five students upon her arrival and in an effort to gain more students they publicly try to put the word out, recruiting most of the new class from a modern dance hall. Unfortunately some of the girls work in a sleazy night club and the bosses are none too impressed when the girls use what martial arts they've learned to fend off perverted clients. When the boss beats the girls Mei Ling comes to set things straight, but finds that she underestimated what she was going up against leaving it up to Master Wong and his five original students to save the day.

I hate to say it, but Lui Chia-Liang has missed his mark with this one. This is more of a comedy than a martial arts film, so much so that the first 'real' fight scene doesn't take place until almost an hour into the movie! With a cast full of greats such as Gordon Liu, Hsiao Ho, and Wong Yu it's a shame that they are for the most part wasted talent here. The mentioned Bmx bike scene really wasn't hugely impressive aside from a few creative moves. There is somewhat of a pay off: the finale is a treat inside a gymnasium using the equipment in the room as props. Here we also see Hsiao Ho reprising his 'Mad Monkey' role and Gordon Lui impersonating monk San Ta. Unfortunately the entire scene runs only about five minutes long and though the martial arts are impressive in this scene, it's a bit late to try to save this production.

The main focus theme here is on the debate between keeping martial arts traditional and more pure or modernizing it and making it more wide spread. There is no real strong argument for either presented here and though there is resolution it's more of just a final joke than anything with any real impact or thought behind it. The comedy was poor for the most part, with jokes that mostly have to do with people acting goofy and cliche.

This movie has been compared to My Young Auntie, but aside from a Kara Hui playing the senior to Liu Chia-Liang there isn't a lot of similarity. My Young Auntie is a vastly superior production on almost all levels, perhaps this was made as an after thought trying to utilize the premise, though obviously things were muddled in the delivery here. If you are a die hard fan of the director or talent involved, skip all but that last ten minutes, it's really the only portion that holds a candle to anything else Liu Chia-Liang has done.
Reviewer Score: 5