IV.  Boundary and Role Violations

The Final Girl

Perhaps the foremost instance of violations of role rather than physical boundary involves Carol Clover’s notion of the “Final Girl” (Note 3).  Originally offered as an explanatory construct describing the surviving female protagonist who successfully confronts the monstrous assailant in “slasher” genre films, the Final Girl has been criticized as betraying her gender by adopting a masculine action role.  Clover (Note 4) has argued that the Final Girl may promote male spectatorial identification with a physically appealing female body acting as a “stand-in” in a discernibly masculine role.  Many HK GWG police procedurals and muscle dramas appear to follow this pattern.  Joyce Godenzi’s headstrong, avenging action persona in “She Shoots Straight” was constructed in response to mortal threat and could be interchanged with comparable parts for male performers.  Other roles played by Michelle Yeoh (“Royal Warriors,” 1986; “Police Story III:  Supercop,” 1992), Cynthia Khan (“In The Line of Duty III – VII,” 1988 – 1991), Moon Lee (e.g., “Killer Angels,” 1989; “Mission of Condor,” 1991; “Angel Force,” 1990; “Beauty Investigator,” 1992), Nadeki Fujimi (“Pink Panther,” 1993; “Rock on Fire,” 1994), Sibelle Hu (“China Heat,” 1993; “Way of the Lady Boxers,” 1992) are comparable, whereas some performers such as Kara Hui, Carrie Ng or Sandra Ng more typically played off relationships with their co-stars in their principal action roles.

Nadeki Fujimi (Pink Panthers), Joyce Godenzi (She Shoots Straight)
As Karen Hollinger has observed (Note 5), the role of unregenerate criminal may be inherently the most subversive of all.  It may well be the case that the Final Girl construct more accurately refers to the agent of restoration of the patriarchal order – when this happens to be a woman.  To the extent that HK GWG law-and-order films embody this principle, the associated parts for female performers are likely to resemble the Final Girl.  These usual genre conventions are perhaps illuminated by considering “Nude Fear,” a film that departs from them yet remains within the surface structure of a police procedural.  Kathy Chow’s exceptional performance presents a character who is distinctively feminine, yet is professionally effective.  The complexity and uncertainties associated with her character are maintained until the very end, allowing the film to ultimately resist a typical Final Girl resolution.

Notes:  Boundary and Role Violations

3. Clover, op. cit., pp. 21 – 64.
4. Clover, op. cit., pp. 51 – 52.
5. Hollinger, op. cit., p. 121.