Her Fatal Ways

Over two years after the HK Handover to China occurred, this film may seem to be nothing more than a historical footnote – but when it came out in 1990 it was a very popular comedy (9th in box office returns and spawned three sequels) that dealt with the fears about the upcoming transition in an amusing way. Even though the issues may no longer be a hot topic or pertinent, this film still retains a great deal of its original charm. It is a low-key satiric look at the differences between cultures of the capitalistic HK and the communist Mainland. What actually strikes the viewer is how much China has changed since this film was made as opposed to any changes that have taken place in HK. With news of the entrepreneurial endeavors along with the incredible corruption going on in China at the highest echelons, the constant references to the “will of the people” and other Marxist clichés sound very quaint and old fashioned a mere ten years after the film was made.
Dodo Cheng in a career performance is simply wonderful as the straight as an arrow Mainland cop who arrives in HK with her assistant, Alfred Cheung (who also directed), to deliver a prisoner, Michael Chow, to the HK authorities. She creates this tough, iconoclastic, rude, stubborn but endearing character. Much of her fine performance is physical – as she has her posture and gestures down in such a way that she seems very much what she is suppose to be.

She delivers Wong to Tony Leung Ka-Fai, but under HK supervision he is able to escape. Feeling it is still her responsibility to get Wong she joins up with Tony in his attempts to capture him. Needless to say their views of human rights and interrogation methods are quite different – and she is often like a bull in a china shop – but the two make a great pair.

One of the highlights is when Leung is forced to put up Dodo and Alfred in his apartment where his father, an ardent Nationalist, also lives. The father is not too pleased to be sharing his roof with a few of the enemy and one night begins singing patriotic songs – Dodo and Alfred retaliate and soon a duel of songs is going on. Tony breaks it up by stating “You are Taiwanese, you are from the Mainland and I am from HK – but we are all Chinese – so let’s get along”.  There is a lot of amusing dialogue and often Dodo makes sly references to Tony that though he may be in charge now in a few years time he won’t be and things will be done differently then. At another point Dodo has to go undercover as a hostess girl and she finally has an opportunity to shed the glasses, the conservative hair style and the dowdy clothes and make glamorous.
In the end of course they all team up – with a group of geriatric Nationalist veterans saving the day – to get the bad guys. Dodo does a lovely two handed gun imitation of Chow Yun Fat to blow away numerous adversaries. This is a very pleasant film with quite a lot of underplayed humor.

My rating for this film: 7.5