The Stewardess (2002)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2008-02-17
Ken Ma is a bit of a lout, easing through life, trying to pick up women with a line that he is a screenwriter—this might be a reference to the old Hollywood saw that “a starlet was so dumb that she slept with a screenwriter” but possibly not. He isn’t very successful—one young woman he is chatting up throws a glass of wine in his face when he tells her that his favorite Truffaut film is “Lady Chatterley”. Ma likes to hang out with his friend George who books bets on soccer games and claims to have a pipeline into the highest levels of the sport in Brazil and England. While neither is very good at anything they are not unlikable and come across at eternal kid brothers, never amounting to much but fun to hang around with once in a while.

So it is surprising when Ma sits down next to Apple (the gorgeous Lee San-San) and discovers that he is going home with a beautiful, sexually voracious young woman who has a job as and air hostess and a wealthy family. He quickly finds out that she is the girlfriend from hell—or so he thinks...

While they are enjoying a post coital cigarette Apple calls her father to tell him she will be bringing someone home tomorrow—that someone, of course, is Ma. He is apprehensive when he finds out that daddy is Dragon, a well known and universally feared Triad leader. Impressing him means a bit more than wearing a clean necktie to dinner—it is more like being arrested. Ma is fingerprinted, a mug shot is taken and Dragon tells him that he will be watched 24 hours a day by his goons. If he cheats on Apple—which seems to mean speaking with or even noticing another woman—his penis will be chopped off.

Just when Ma thinks that things couldn’t get much worse he meets the new tenant in the next apartment, a striking looking if uncommunicative Japanese air hostess named Yurei. She has a very limited vocabulary and every word of it is in Japanese but she easily gets across her fascination with Ma. Ma has a particularly repellent (or possibly just really strange) desire to have sex with a Japanese woman in order to avenge China’s mistreatment by Japan. He is extremely disappointed when, on a trip to Japan, he spends a stack of Yen on a prostitute only to discover that she is a student from Taiwan working her way through college. This is the background for his very unhealthy attraction for Yurei.

It is unhealthy because the Dragon’s goons pick up both of them and take them to the gang headquarters where Ma is tied up and beaten to force him to confess to having an affair with the Japanese stewardess, while she is detained so that the Dragon himself can warn her away from his daughter’s paramour. He makes the mistake of stepping on her toe when roughing her up, something that makes her fly into a complete and very impressive rage. As it happens she has already killed Apple who had been careless with the placement of her feet while trying to intimidate Yurei. After cleaning up the mess she made while slaughtering Apple, Yurei had a part left over—Apple’s arm, still clutching a large knife.

This is in the luggage that Dragon’s men brought along when they grabbed the two of them and Yurei uses it—the arm with the knife still clutched in the hand—to kill the Dragon and two of this lieutenants. Being obsessively neat (she is obsessively everything) she gets things cleaned up and the bodies packed away before the police arrive.

While never on a really high level, “The Stewardess” deteriorates for the last half hour of the movie—essentially everything has happened that needs to other than the final confrontation between Ma and Yurei--who Ma discovers not only doesn’t work for the airline she claims to but also has a name which sounds exactly like “ghost” in Japanese that no young woman from Japan would have. It is dragged out too long toward the end as if there were so much crammed into the first hour that the filmmakers had to pad the ending. Dragon’s now leaderless gang chased Ma and lost him, then let him sneak back into his apartment—these guys are really bad gangsters. There is a protracted chase scene in which Yurei, dressed in her typical bright red with red heels, runs after a police wagon carrying Ma. When the police officers who have arrested him look back, of course, they don’t see anyone.

The end of the movie is a bit of a let down but Sam Leong had left himself with no real options other than what he did which was neither surprising nor shocking.

All in all a decent movie with excellent performances by just about everyone in front of the camera, some very funny bits, an extraordinary score that accompanied but didn’t underline or intrude upon the action and a almost two minute sequence between Ma and Yurei with no sound at all.

Recommended.
Reviewer Score: 7