Wonder Women

Reviewed by YTSL

When (overseas) Hong Kong moviephiles talk about the D&B Productions that they get a kick out of watching, the works that they often cite are action packed efforts like “Royal Warriors” (which starred the woman who did not make a single film appearance in the three years or so that she was married to Dickson Poon -- the man who clearly held the cards in his professional partnership with Sammo Hung) and “She Shoots Straight” (whose lead actress went on to wed Mr. Hung...).  In the process, it sometimes can get overlooked or forgotten that D(ickson) and B(o, as in Sammo’s Kam Bo) also produced some fine non-action efforts, like Sylvia Chang’s award-winning “Passion” and Tony Au’s artsy “Dream Lovers” (none of which starred Michelle Yeoh or Joyce Godenzi!).

The Kam Kwook Leung (the terrorist in Purple Storm) directed WONDER WOMEN is one of those D&B non-action works that doesn’t seem to have caught the attention of many fan-boys (and-girls).  Alternatively, this charming 1987 comedy has rated more than one intriguing mention in a Hong King International Film Festival publication (plus looks to have been included a couple of times in a HKIFF retrospective program).  After viewing that which came across as a bona fide star vehicle for the very watchable Carol (AKA Do Do) Cheng and extremely capable Cecilia Yip, I must admit to having some difficulty understanding how come the movie looks to be more of a critical than popular favorite; not least since that which really just focuses on one week in the life of two unsuccessful Miss Hong Kong -- or Hung Kung, as a featured banner would have it! -- beauty pageant contestants lacks a really complex, event-filled or tightly-organized plot and, instead, seems to mainly appeal by way of its having two charismatic lead actresses who may well be able to improve the quality of a film just by being in it.
WONDER WOMEN’s story kicks off in earnest shortly after the rescue of Brigitta Lin (I can’t help but think that Cecilia Yip’s character’s name was inspired by Brigitte Lin’s!) from the grasps of an over-amorous man by a fellow beauty pageant contestant (Do Do Cheng’s character is named as Leung Hau Kau but also answers to “Yammie”) outside the hall where another woman other than those two had very recently been announced as that year’s Miss Hong Kong.  The day after the conclusion of the competition, the actually quite proper Brigitta returns to her Hong Kong Business Centre workplace to find that things just aren’t not the same anymore; not least because she now gets cast plenty of inquisitive looks by her salacious newspaper gossip reading colleagues (who had learnt, among other things, that her hairstylist boyfriend, Andre (who is played by Tom Poon), had dumped her for someone else who was rated by the contest judges as a greater beauty than her.
Fed up with being the center of unwanted attention there and seemingly everywhere else that she’s the only failed beauty pageant contest in sight, Brigitta impulsively quits her job and turns to the seemingly way more carefree Yammie for help and understanding friendship.  Despite the two WONDER WOMEN appearing to not have all that much in common personality wise (what with Brigitta being as introverted as Yammie is extroverted), they establish an almost instant bond and are so comfortable in the company of each other that they decide to become apartment mates.  After this decision is made, what follows are days -- much of which Brigitta and Yammie happily spend together -- whose dramatic as well as comic highlights include their: going for farcical screen tests (with the hope that they’ll be able to follow the film-appearing footsteps of those previous Miss Hong Kong contestants who went on to achieve fame and fortune); paying visits to each other’s family residence (in scenes which starkly emphasize the contrasting environments in which the two women grew up); having one pretty funny as well as mess-making cat fight in the hair saloon where Andre (whose name Yammie pronounces as Hon-de-lay!) works; and meeting a studly type who tells the two frankly quite gullible women that he’s a visiting Japanese who can speak Cantonese (played by an obviously -- plus thankfully dubbed -- Michael Fitzgerald Wong).
Even while nothing majorly eventful occurs in WONDER WOMEN, this (re)viewer definitely considers the entertaining time she spent virtually hanging out with someone described by the man she had the hots for as “so cute” and another who got praised by the same silver-tongued individual for being “so full of character” as that which had been well utilized.  All in all, I figure that chances are high that fellow admirers of Do Do Cheng -- who looks to have played against type in this beautifully shot (by ace cinematographer, Poon Hang Sang) movie -- and Cecilia Yip -- who seems to have been given a rare chance to appear in a lighter offering than those she is more usually associated with -- will have similar positive reactions to this enjoyable effort (that ought to garner these two actresses more fans, if it were more widely available in English subtitled VCD and DVD -- rather than just VHS -- formats).

My rating for the film:  7.5