Yes Madam 92: A Serious Shock

Absolutely, one of my favorite films in the "girls with guns" genre. In some ways the action scenes actually fall short of many of the other films of this kind, but it has an intensity and dramatic follow through that few of them do. Some of the scenes are mesmerizing and completely spine tingling. The film also stars three of the very best – Moon Lee, Cynthia Khan and Yukari Oshima. Having the three of them together in a film is one of the great pleasures of life. Here they are given a rare opportunity to act as well as fight. Moon and Cynthia are seemingly the best of friends as they go through training together at the police academy. It turns out that Cynthia is engaged to one of their instructors, (Lawrence Ng – he of the mighty horse penis envy in Sex & Zen) and the three of them pose happily together as they try on the wedding clothes. Well it turns out that sweetie pie Moon Lee has been sharing more than hard work with her good friend. She has been having an affair with Lawrence on the side and he has broken it off. It also turns out that Moon has a little problem – she is totally psychotic. Our Moon. Hard to believe. She doesn’t get to play bad very often, but she does it quite well. In a harrowing scene, Moon kills Lawrence and with the help of another cop frames Cynthia. Cynthia escapes and goes into hiding. Moon tries to hide her tracks and clean up any mess. This obviously entails more killing and Moon just gets better and better at it. One is a knife through the mouth and Moon doesn't even blink. Cynthia teams up with Yukari – a car thief – but as Moon applies pressure to Yukari, Cynthia wonders if she will betray her. Moon finally kidnaps Yukari’s son and attaches a little bomb to him. The inevitable bloody showdown comes to pass.
Mom, whats that ticking sound?
The first hour of this film is just terrific. It then goes astray into some confusing sub-plots, but bounces back for the final fight. It’s tough watching one of my favorite actors Moon Lee be so evil, but it must have been great fun for her to do it.

This one is a minor classic, but again don't expect a lot of fireworks. The action is minimal and seems abbreviated at times, but this is an excellent story of love and betrayal.

My rating for this film: 8.5

This actioneer which stars not one -- or even two -- but three major "Girls with Guns" stars has an introductory sequence that is guaranteed to warm the cockles of the heart of any admirer of fighting femmes.  Before a sentence really gets heard, the movie's audience is treated to the sight of Moon Lee, Cynthia Khan and other women practicing shooting, jogging in formation, defusing landmines and engage in arm-to-arm combat with oh-so-cool aplomb.  And it is with another rough-and-tumble early action sequence that Ms. Lee and Khan are established as playing a pair of policewomen -- who often can do what their male counterparts can't -- in this production.YES MADAM 92:  A SERIOUS SHOCK! also possesses a dynamite climactic battle whose specifics are as unexpected as its general outcome was inevitable.  At the very least, it presents the movie's three main actresses (the third of whom is Yukari Oshima) with a solid opportunity to do what they are noted for:  Namely, ferociously kick butt galore.
If only this too often meandering and generally horribly cobbled together movie's other portions had even approached the quality of its beginning and ending.  YES MADAM 92:  A SERIOUS SHOCK! truly could have done without the one scene involving a rather insubstantial character being forcibly injected with drugs and another which showed two naked individuals engaging in sex before getting repeatedly stabbed that probably earned the film its Category III rating (I must admit to wondering whether there are people who approach this work with the hope of getting to view the not physically unattractive action stars in nude splendor...).  This (re)viewer further fails to see why Yukari Oshima's car thief character needed to have a gang (Waise Lee is absolutely wasted as one of its members; ditto Eric Tsang as the "godfather" of Cynthia Khan's character).  Okay, perhaps the moviemakers were looking for a way to insert extra cannon fodder into the story.  Even if this was the case, in the process, they actually negatively affected the movie by endowing it with more loose as well as unsatisfactorily tied-up ends and connections.
It is to Moon Lee's credit that she seemed to be trying to make this a serious film as well as use her immensely unsympathetic role (that of a combo of jealous friend, cold betrayer and murderous madwoman) to show off her dramatic range and ability.  However, bar for one specific scene in which she emoted very well, Cynthia Khan's performance (as the betrayed friend forced to go on the run) lacked the emotional intensity to help turn YES MADAM 92:  A SERIOUS SHOCK! into an affecting effort to rival, say, "Widow Warriors" and "She Shoots Straight".  And poor Yukari Oshima truly got the short end of the stick; what with the Japanese actress being called on to look like she was in some kind of music video (I'm referring here to the car-breaking scenes), engage in an aqua battle with the kind of character best described as a "nasty foreign chick" and appear in quite a few other superfluous portions of a movie whose main story really only involved the Hong Kong and Taiwanese women (and -- if anyone else -- the characters played by Lawrence Ng and, maybe even, Melvin Wong).

When watching this disappointing work, I couldn't help but think of Maggie Cheung's statement that:  "The girls who are holding guns in the movies now, it doesn't mean they can't do serious acting too, it's just that the chance hasn't come for them" (In Rick Baker and Toby Russell's "Deadly China Dolls", 1996:81).  As much as I like to see women in warrior mode, I have to admit my finding it sad indeed that this particular production might actually be considered to be a high point in the careers of its leading actresses and thinking that such game ladies surely deserve better than what they got.

My rating for this film:  5.5