Girl with a Gun (1982)
Reviewed by: STSH on 2002-06-27
Summary: Above average
This film was not what I was expecting. The cover shows a leggy young beauty holding a gun, and a pic of Alan Tam looking somewhat bemused. A glamorous take on James Bond, perhaps ?

Far from it ! This is a fairly gritty documentary style crime thriller about a very disturbed young lady. It may well be a true story. I know nothing about the lead actress, and can find no other films in which she acts. However, she sings the theme song, which is in part played about 15 times throughout the movie. This hyper-repetition becomes pretty tiresome, and gives the film the feel of a musical at times, as do several other musical interludes, including an excrutiating and seemingly endless three minutes of "He's Got the Whole World in his Hands", sung in horrendously fractured English.

But there is much to admire about this film. Apart from a very obvious dead spots, the direction is quite good. The cinematography is simple but very effective, especially so in the many horror scenes which deal with disposal of the first dead body. Curiously, the most impressive aspect of this film is the sound design. In the horror scenes, for example, the sonic landscape is superbly crafted from simple elements. I cannot recall any other film from HK or Taiwan which has stood out in this department.

Nearly as impressive is the lead actress. Bit of a shame that this was apparently her only role. She and Wong Yuk Wan are the only two actors whose characters are believeable and compelling, and they stand out far ahead of the remaning insipid cast, unfortunately including the nominal co-star Alan Tam. This film is a vehicle for Ying Hsia. She appears in most of the frames of the film, and gives an intense portrayal of a fast descent into madness without speaking a word (her character is a mute). And despite being a total cliche, Wong Yuk Wan does a good job as the ultimate nosy landlady.

Unfortunately, I can think of no reason to recommend this Taiwanese-produced movie, filmed in Hong Kong, to Alan Tam fans. His role is pretty small and his character is as peripheral as many in the support cast. He's little more than a guest star, and does nothing but look cute.

But the weirdest feature of this film is the subtitles. They are of far above average quality .... when they appear ! Many HK and Taiwanese films suffer the "subs drop out" syndrome, but this is the film where I've seen subs of nearly-perfect English do the flip flop. Very strange.

Overall, this film is certainly no classic. But it's a refreshing change from the poorly-directed and sloppily-made fare which is produced in massive quantity in this region. Worth a look.
Reviewer Score: 7