“City Cops” (aka “Free Fighter,” 1989)

(Joe Siu International, Dir. Lau Ka-Wing)

This routine Cynthia Rothrock crime drama and HK cop relationship movie is enhanced slightly by Michiko’s cameo appearance in the final reel.  Cynthia Rothrock plays an FBI agent who travels to HK on the trail of an informant who possesses a tape that can incriminate a crime syndicate.  Mark Houghton, as usual, does a competent job as the heavy and her principal opponent.  Much of the film is spent on instantly forgettable cop buddy light comedy.  The action scenes are fair but predictable, involving Cynthia Rothrock fighting off shoals of goons – first in the US, then HK.

Michiko, at least, cuts a menacing figure, although she has very limited screen time.  All the bad guys are fairly one-dimensional.  However, her fight scene, in which she trades punches and kicks with Rothrock, is one of her best.  She appears strong and competent, performing splits, kip-ups, and some very forceful kicks, punches and strikes.  She’s destined to take a beating in the end, finishing her fight scene in handcuffs.  In this film Michiko displays her typical careful attention to appearance, wearing an interesting tunic and her hair shorter than usual.

A2, B3.5, C2.5, D2.5, E2.5, F2 (15).  Fight Scenes

“God of Gamblers” (1989)

(Win's Movie Production, Dir. Wong Jing)

Michiko makes a spectacular cameo appearance at the start of this gambling action comedy.  The central character “Ko Chun” (played by Chow Yun Fat) is an undefeated gambling champion – literally the “God of Gamblers” – who is challenged to a match by a Japanese.  After first defeating him at mahjongg, then defeating his assistant at dice, the God of Gamblers learns that the real motive for the challenge was to enlist his assistance in exacting revenge.  Despite being assigned a lethally accurate pistol-carrying Vietnamese bodyguard (Charles Heung), Ko Chun suffers a head injury and develops amnesia.  He is rescued by a young family seeking to make a big score.

His rescuers (Andy Lau and Joey Wong) discover that, in addition to a craving for chocolate, their guest has some unusual talents that they can enlist in small-scale gambling matches.  Ko Chun eventually recovers his faculties just when he, and his new friends, are attacked by the gang that sought to have him killed.  A bloody showdown in a parking garage is followed by a climactic confrontation at the tables in which the God of Gamblers triumphs.
Although Michiko’s part is strictly incidental to the bulk of the movie, her sudden partial disrobing to reveal a spectacular tattoo sprawling across her shoulders is both visually arresting and has become enduringly identified with the film as a whole.  Despite the small part, Michiko’s visual impact within such a successful production undoubtedly represented a personal coup and significant career boost.

A1.5, B0, C4, D3, E3.5, F3 (15).  Recommended

“Princess Madam” (1989)

(Grandwell Film Productions, Dir. Godfrey Ho)

Moon Lee and Sharon Yeung Pan-Pan play cop partners whose impossibly accurate shooting kills most of a motorcycle-riding gang led by Michiko in an attack on a police vehicle convoy.  When her lover is killed (blown up on his own grenade), Michiko’s character seeks revenge against Moon Lee.

She does this by seducing Moon’s husband.  Michiko appears glamorous in a black evening dress, heels and heavy makeup.  Once she’s got him alone, she quite literally marks him with a vicious bite.  Later, she stalks him with repeated telephone calls.  On their anniversary Moon sits at home waiting until her husband eventually comes home badly beaten by Michiko.  When they eventually confront her at a restaurant, Michiko springs a trap and kidnaps them both, suspending Moon above a crude bomb while first licking her husband then breaking a champagne bottle on his leg.  The two are rescued by the intervention of Sharon Yeung.  Despite Michiko’s firepower advantage (she’s carrying a machine-pistol in her leather jacket), Moon and Pan-Pan make short work of her, although Michiko manages to throw some solid punches and kicks.

This thread appears to have been part of an unfinished project.  The remaining half hour of the film predominantly involves Sharon Yeung in a heroic bloodshed confrontation, in an almost unrelated story line.
This film is distinguished by Michiko’s participation in a relatively sexually graphic threesome, augmented by coke sniffing.  She caresses the other female participant and bites her male lover while he is engaged in sex.  Later, there is an extraordinary scene in which Michiko extracts a bullet from this woman’s breast after the failed ambush.  It’s quite uncomfortable to watch, and well acted – although very brief.  These strong images – and Michiko’s facial expressions ranging from the demure to the rapacious – define the distinctively sexual nature of the movie.  Michiko’s presence adds elements usually reserved for Cat. III, but acted so much better.
Her best moments must surely be when telephoning Moon’s husband while throwing darts at Moon’s photograph, or when contemplating her near-victory after having captured them both.  Michiko appears striking in red leather, but visibly compromised by intoxication.  Her character’s actions are slightly unsteady – not enough to derail her plan, but just enough to nullify her physical allure.  As she drinks from the champagne bottle the fluid escapes, running glistening down her chin.  Her wet skin catches the light, a glint of madness.
This is a quite uneven film, perhaps owing to the presence of cut-and-paste elements.  Moon and Pan-Pan wear unattractive costumes, although the film features one of Moon’s relatively few appearances in a dress.  The action scenes are fair, ranging from cheesy to intense.  Pan-Pan’s final bloodbath has little to do with Michiko’s thread – but is worth viewing.  Michiko’s part as a sultry, unstable, unpredictably dangerous femme fatale is enhanced by fine costuming and a strong performance.

A2.5, B2.5, C4, D2, E4, F2.5 (17.5).  Highly Recommended