The Golden Nightmare

I wonder whom it was that came up with the idea of making Annie Wu an action star? Whoever it is should be in another business – dry cleaning perhaps. Annie Wu (First Strike) is very cute, but I think a good wind would knock her over. Perhaps in real life she is a master black belt and could kick Jet Li from HK to Shanghai – but I don’t think so. One scene is laughable in which she is surrounded by ten tribesman brandishing spears and she easily dispatches them. Of course when Yukari Oshima does the same thing two minutes later, I can buy it without a problem!
Annie Wu in fight mode
Cutting right to the chase, this is a pretty weak film. The ingredients were there for a decent adventure film, but the film just limps along for most of its running time. In the last 20-minutes things pick up, but unless you are a big Annie Wu or Yukari fan the chances are you will have tuned out long before.

A fellow named Osaka has learned that his father buried some ancient Chinese treasures in the Philippines during WWII. Initially it looks like Osaka is the hero of this film since he only wants to bring back honor on his family’s name. Eventually though we learn that there is very little honor to be regained – as his father was a Japanese commander who stole the treasures from China and then killed all the people that helped him bury it. All but two that is – who escaped and made a map and then cut it in half. His son it soon appears is only too willing to follow in his father's deadly footsteps.

Osaka goes to the Mainland and forcefully tries to make one of the two men  - Wang - hand over his half of the map.  Wang's granddaughter Annie (who happens to be a cop and the martial arts instructor) comes to his aid – learns of the buried treasure - and is soon on her way to the Philippines to recover the treasure for China. She is aided by a fellow police officer played by Pai Ying. I can’t imagine what Pai Ying – who during his long career fought numerous times against Angela Mao and once against Michelle Yeoh (the final brutal fight in Royal Warriors) must think of this new breed of female action stars. He is getting a bit creaky to do much action himself but at a critical point he advises Annie – who is getting whupped – “use your tai-chi fist – but do it softly” and she is able to turn the tables!

Michael Chow, Wu, Pai Ying and Osaka
A professor and his aide –Max Mok and Yukari – are also aiding Annie and amazingly they also have great kung-fu skills! In the Philippines they receive the aid of the police in the form of Michael Chow. So this is a pretty good cast for this low budget film.
Oshima and Max Mok
Osaka and a bunch of baddies are right behind them and they are able to use local tribesman to track and hunt down Annie’s party in the jungles. It sounds good, but it has all the suspense of a game of gin rummy with your grandmother. Nothing happens for a long while until finally some action kicks in during the last 20-minutes of the film. Everyone gets to have a one on one fight and the one with Yukari is excellent. Yukari doesn’t look well in this film – very pale and tired looking. I hope she is ok – but once she gets to do some action she looks like the Yukari of old. That for me was the only highlight of this film.