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貓眼女郎 (1967)
Lady with a Cat's Eyes

Reviewed by: duriandave
Date: 05/03/2006

If the opening credits sequence of Lady with a Cat’s Eyes fails to reveal the film’s inspiration, then the name of the special agent played by Kenneth Tsang Kong certainly will: Sit Bong. The huge international success of the James Bond franchise launched a wave of spymania that crested in Hong Kong in 1967. Chor Yuen seems to have been the first to capitalize on this trend with the second installment of his Black Rose trilogy, Spy with My Face (1966). Patrick Tse Yin looks more like James Bond this time around, but the main protagonists are still the irrepressible crimefighting sisters, played by Nam Hung and Connie Chan. Shortly thereafter, Shaw Brothers released Golden Buddha (1966), which tries to be more faithful to its English predecessor. Leading man Paul Chang Chun is sufficiently suave but sorely lacking in the machismo department. Beloved for her spunky roles at MP&GI, Jeannette Lin Tsui is disappointingly underused as the good girl, while bombshell Fanny Fan Lai steals the show as the bad girl (by baring her fanny). In Lady with a Cat’s Eyes, Kenneth Tsang adds a dash of the rakishness and volatility that were missing in the previous Hong Kong Bonds. Mang Lei, in her film debut, plays the villainess with a variety of sexy outfits and bikinis. The big twist to the 007 formula (thankfully!) is good girl Connie Chan. She may stand back a bit in this film and let Tsang Kong enjoy a little limelight, but she still kicks plenty of butt. In fact, she had more experience in these kind of roles, having already starred the previous year in Lady Bond and Girl Detective 001. It’s delightful to watch Connie’s interactions with Kenneth Tsang as he tries to take advantage of their cover as a couple to make some moves on her à la James Bond. Although she likes him, she’s a decent woman and clearly let’s it be known who is sleeping on the sofa!

The plot of Lady with a Cat’s Eyes is a complex cat-and-mouse game of espionage made even more convoluted by some missing scenes on this DVD release. Basically, Connie Chan and Kenneth Tsang play special agents trying to prevent two scientists from falling into the hands of a nefarious gang led by Mang Lei and the mysterious X707. Surprisingly well-made, the film features hard and fast action choreography by Lau Kar-leung and Tong Gai (who also show up respectively as a detective and a gang member) and top-notch cinematography with lots of hand-held camerawork, skewed angles, and low-key lighting. I was delighted to discover that the genius behind the camera was Chan Kon, who worked for most of his career at Kong Ngee and was responsible for the look of such classics as My Intimate Partner (1960), The Black Rose (1965), and The Story of a Discharged Prisoner (1967). The nightclub scenes are particularly well-staged and lit and use rhythmic cutting and freeze frames to great effect. One other thing distinguishes this film: it has that “over the top” quality that would become a trademark of Hong Kong cinema from the 70s onward. At times, I was reminded of the hilarious spoof All the Wrong Spies (1983) and the cult classic Naked Killer (1992). The filmmakers of the 80s and 90s were clearly influenced by the marvelous Cantonese pop cinema of the 60s, of which Lady with a Cat’s Eyes is a fine example.

Reviewer Score: 8