Naked Weapon

The weapons are indeed naked but for the most part the women sadly are not. In fact the film timidly shies away from true exploitation with only a minimum of nudity (the first scene plus a Maggie Q nipple sighting) and no explicit gore. There is though a lot of high-speed action, a busload of brutal and stylish killings, some enticing sexual situations and more deadly females than the last NOW convention. That was more than enough to satisfy my hunger for a decent Girls with Guns redux. Expectations may play a large part in your enjoyment of the film. I expected a lame slog through the mud, but found much of it to be a perverse mindless dash through a hailstorm of bullets and death. The problem is that the bar for violence and perversity has been so raised by films like Ichi the Killer that anything that doesn’t splatter on your face like a broken egg (or worse) is tame by comparison. This film breaks no new ground and has the mental capacity of a hummingbird, but taken on its own wham bang terms it is rather trashy idiotic fun with lots of delicious eye candy to savor during the slower parts. True, there are some scenes that are so incredibly stupid you almost feel privileged to witness them, but they just add to the fun.
The film divides into three basic sections. The first is terrific as some forty young girls are kidnapped from around the world and trained to be professional killers. Those that whine and want to go home to mama find themselves suddenly . . . dead. Training takes on many hues that all add up to becoming the perfect killing machine – from being able to kill a man with your bare hands by snapping his vertebrae to applying just the right amount of lip gloss to the more subtle art of lap dancing – all formidable weapons if used correctly. Graduation day comes six years later and the dropout rate is alarmingly high and bloody.
In the second section our happy go lucky girls go out to apply their finely honed skills ala Mary Tyler Moore with a smile on their faces and a here I am world attitude – a blow dart to the neck, a quick insert and turn of the wrist, a flurry of bullets to the chest, a high heeled kick to the throat – school taught them well – they kill, they prosper. This section too was fast moving fun – constantly on the go with only an occasional stop to catch its breath before they were on to the next target. This all plays out with little depth but is still fairly satisfying in that sleek long legged lethal kind of way. It’s just fun watching cute young things kill lots of big bad guys in various ways. Then the inevitable occurs – a romance that squashes the film like a bug. From this point on the film slows to a crawl (though still with two good action scenes in there) – takes the idiocy to another level and slowly sinks in the quicksand of bad melodrama.
The film primarily revolves around Maggie Q and Anya – two of the kidnapped girls who become friends (with some subtext suggesting more than this) and protect one another during these six years. They also happen to be two of the more proficient killers and are chosen by Madame M. (Almen Wong) along with the sullen but deadly Li Fei (credited as Jewel Lee) to become her prime agents of death. A few killings later, Maggie sees her mother (Cheng Pei Pei) during an assignment and comes under the observation of CIA operative Daniel Wu. Needless to say, this one time real life romantic couple falls for each other like a bad script.
The direction and action is provided by Ching Siu-Tung who must feel as if his work with Jet Li and Brigitte Lin was another lifetime – but he does a reasonably decent job considering he is saddled with a sketchy script from Wong Jing and the acting of Maggie Q and Daniel Wu. Not that Maggie is really all that bad – her thin runway model looks and sweet genial face make it hard to accept her as an assassin, but she is damn fine to look at – her chiseled face and crooked nose grow on me like a transplanted heart. Daniel Wu on the other hand is simply atrocious here. His monotone voice and lack of range are more deadly than any of the female killers – you want to kill someone – make them listen to Wu emote for 20-minutes. Again though, the dialogue he is asked to carry would bring down Walter Peyton in his prime.
The action is very wire enhanced with some CGI assistance – much of it is rather enjoyable if far from realistic and a good portion of it seems to be done by the actors – but by the end Ching goes overboard with an absurd Matrix like duel that has Maggie Q perched on top of her enemy’s head (Andrew Lin) like the Karate Kid. Where all of a sudden did they get near super powers?
This was one that I really wish Wong Jing had consulted me on before releasing the film. I would have told him that he was very close to having a great film here if only - he completely edited out Daniel Wu, had a lesbian love scene between Maggie Q and Anya, given Almen one or two good fight scenes, shown some little kids being killed, changed the anti-climatic ending and of course have Cheng Pei Pei kick everyone's butt. Ok - maybe not a great film, but a better one! As one poster succinctly puts it on Mobius "Awful movie. And I really enjoyed it." Absolutely!

My rating for this film: 6.5