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!
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!
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.
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.