Black Cat II (1992)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2008-03-15
The only disappointing aspect of “Black Cat II” wasn’t that it was a badly made movie—based on reviews here and elsewhere that was expected. However I had hoped to see a bad Jade Leung movie but instead was treated to a bad Robin Shou movie which is another matter entirely. A worshipper at the shrine of all things Jade knows that he will have to put up with a lot of inept filmmaking; for every perfect extended cameo (Kung Fu Mahjong) or terrific starring vehicle (Fox Hunter) there have been many films in which she was the only reason to watch. “Black Cat II” barely qualifies as watchable even on that lowered level of expectation.

She is the Jadeinator, the Black Cat from the first film but as a character that has been stripped of almost all emotion and judgment. “Black Cat II” begins with flashback to “Black Cat”, with its scenes reminiscent of “A Clockwork Orange” of brainwashing and memory erasure. Black Cat, now called Erica instead of Catherine as she was in the first movie, is having a new microchip implanted in her brain and her old memories wiped clean. Things don’t go quite as the CIA doctors had planned, though, as images of being beaten, chased and shot at flash through her mind, images that can’t be erased. This version of Black Cat, when they are finished with her, still has some significant flaws—she is very sensitive to heat and a being hit be a laser beam will shut her down immediately. The second one proves useful in controlling her in the field while the first almost leads to her death and that of her partner.

She is paired with the very reluctant Agent Robin, a CIA officer with something to prove—he was in charge of protecting a Russian defector who knows the secrets of the Anti-Yeltsin Organization. The defector and his family were killed when two black clad assassins on snowboards shot up the safe house. The killers looked like ninjas and were impervious to pain, fearless and maniacally committed to their mission. Agent Robin doesn't want to take the Jadeinator when he goes after the killers because she is a woman and will slow things down. She convinces him otherwise when she arrives just as he is about to take off in his jet helicopter, beats him up and disarms him with almost no effort.

It turns out that the superhuman seeming killers they are after actually do have enhanced capabilities that are the result of them being irradiated. The CIA discovers this when one of the assassins is killed while running a roadblock--presumably in Russia. His comrade escapes through the usual robot ninja method of shooting a steel wire into a tree and sliding up (yes up) the wire. Black Cat's chip can sense the presence of the radiation if she gets within 20 miles of its source and a lot of screen time is wasted with shots of Erica and Robin driving around trying to pick up the trace radiation.

There isn’t much right with “Black Cat II” but the worst of its excesses are so bad that they are funny. For example after the first attempted assassination of Yeltsin in Russia the assassin escaped by jumping through a manhole into the sidecar of a waiting motorcycle which is idling in the underground sewer (the dry part). The "motorcycle in the sewer" trick might be original with this movie. Robin and Erica are able to elude the Russian police officers who are watching them by simply running into a subway station, even though they have never been in the Moscow Metro before and they are on the home territory of the Russian cops. There are more (many more) lacunae but these are among the worst.

On the plus side Jade and her stunt double have a convincingly fast and brutal action scene inside a foundry where she beats up ten or so Russian workers who are armed with axes and hammers. The stunt work was exemplary in a scene when Erica climbed the side of building using a rope while wearing pumps and a miniskirt—whoever that was did a terrific job. Also there was the ingenious way of finally getting a close range shot at the Russian leader--I won't reveal it although not many people will still be watching this far into the film.

This one is for Jade Leung fans only and only the most dedicated or obsessed would sit through the entire film. Her part is badly written, giving her very little to work with. If she (or anyone else in front of the camera) were helped by director Stephen Shin it didn’t come through in the finished work.

Reviewer Score: 2