Mission of Justice

Reviewed by YTSL

This “Girls with Guns” effort is one that has Moon Lee, Yukari Oshima, Carrie Ng, two other women whose names I, unfortunately, do not know and -- in a bit role -- Sophia Crawford in its actually mainly male as well as largely non-speaking extra-filled cast.  For the most part, it takes place in rural sections of Thailand.  As many fans of the under-respected genre that this 1992 movie is a fairly typical representative of will be quick to recognize, these choices of locale can be taken as a pretty sure sign of the Wang Chung Yeung helmed offering’s being a hardly high concept or budget work; albeit one that is, happily enough, still not likely to be as bottom of the barrel in quality as those productions with Hong Kong movie actors and actresses in them that were shot in the Philippines.

With a fight between Moon Lee and Gary Daniels ensuing even before its largely untranslated into English opening credits flash onto the screen, there is little doubt that MISSION OF JUSTICE is one work whose makers realize that its main attractions are those action scenes in which its feisty female stars prominently figure.  Accordingly, they duly provide the viewers of this thinly plotted offering with a bunch of conflict-packed segments that, in at least one protracted instance, feature the letting off of hundreds of rounds of ammunition and a bunch of explosives (in the form of hand grenades and sticks of dynamite) but more often contain examples of hand-to-hand combat whose variety primarily stems from the scene’s setting, the gender of the battlers plus the number of individuals involved in a skirmish.
As can be attested by my losing count of the number of fights that MISSION OF JUSTICE possesses mid-way through my viewing of it, the movie -- whose main plus basic plot-line involves two members of the Anti-Crime League being assigned to go undercover by their commander to foil a major opium smuggling-trading operation and catch its primary mastermind and her partner(s) -- certainly does contain its fair share of such.  Lest anybody get unduly ecstatic by this report however, due warning will be hereby given that I didn’t consider (m)any of those that were on show in this offering -- despite their all being able to boast of having at least one of Moon Lee, Yukari Oshima and one of the two fighting femmes who had villain roles in the work being in the thick of the action (N.B. In her butch uniform wearing role as Colonel Carry(!), Carrie Ng is shown firing weapons and issuing commands but never in the kind of situation where she has to throw a punch or kick) -- to be sufficiently satisfactorily extended and/or particularly exciting.
At the risk of being accused of having favorites, this (re)viewer will suggest that MISSION OF JUSTICE suffers quite a bit from having the undeniably cute -- even when exhibiting remarkably questionable fashion sense! -- Moon Lee (whose crime buster character, perhaps not incidentally, is the only one who bears the same name as the actress who plays her) be the one who has the most fight action as well as overall screen time.  This is not least because she seemed to be the sole performer who was noticeably doubled in the film.  Additionally, I really do reckon that this production’s more accomplished fighting femmes are the admittedly less graceful but surely more physically powerful Yukari Oshima (whose also apt to be horribly attired “Bullet” character is made to come across as Moon’s equally fearless but definitely less competent fellow undercover operative) and the often stylishly attired actress who portrayed the movie’s multiple aliases-using most wanted villain.
In what seems like a bid to add spice to an actioneer that threatened to be too mundane, some truly bad guys (including the bespectacled individual portrayed by Tommy Wong) were added to this movie’s mix.  As one might expect, these are the kind of nasty fellows who don’t seem to think much about double-crossing their partners along with killing innocent as well as not so innocent women and men.  However, the nadir of their behavior -- and this offering -- has to be the sequence that involves a triple rape (most of which takes place off screen...but still is most unsavory, and not just because it involves one of this film’s main female characters).  On such occasions, I found myself dearly wishing for Carrie Ng to go into primo castrating ‘bitch’ mode.  Unfortunately, this is not a work in which this occurs, and -- as far as I am concerned -- is all the poorer and more compromised for being so.

My rating for the film: 5.5

Reviewed by Brian

There is no doubt that this film falls fairly low in the ranking of the Girls with Guns genre for a number of reasons. The plot is ragged and mundane, the editing is choppy, the characterizations are nearly non-existent and in a bizarre narrative twist the film decides to stick with the villains for nearly a twenty-minute trek through the jungle. The filmmakers seemed to simply forget why most viewers were watching in the first place – Moon and Yukari. They basically vanish from the film for a long stretch of time while the bad guys proceed to rape three women and a strange romance of a kind (handcuffed to one another) grows between Tommy Wong and the main female villain. Even so, the film still gave me a fair amount of warm pleasure that only other Girls with Guns aficionados can truly understand.

Hong Kong film has really not had a lot of pairs whose names are linked together like Bogart and Bacall or Abbot and Costello. There was the homoerotic vibes between Chow Yun Fat and Danny Lee in The Killer and City on Fire, the sweet chemistry between Chow Yun Fat and Cherie Chung was visible in some eight films, Anita Yuen and Lau Ching-wan bounced off each other with effervescent delight in seven films, but few pairings were as electric as those between Moon Lee and Yukari Oshima. It was a melding of night and day, of heat and cold – the fierce determination of Moon and the brooding presence of Yukari made a magical duo.
They appeared together in nine films and they were the heart and soul of the Girls with Guns genre. Without Moon’s lovable appeal and diminutive stature or Yukari’s inner fury and fabulous physical skills the genre simply could not have existed. Whether friend or foe in the film, they play off each other with wonderful effect and tended to bring out the best from each other. Their best collaborations would have to be Angel, Angel Terminator II, Dreaming the Reality and Kickboxer’s Tears. In Angel and Kickboxer’s Tears, Yukari is the villain while in the other two she and Moon are friends. But whether they were beating the hell out of each other or protecting the other’s back, they were perfect for each other.
As soon as they come together in this film, the warm feeling begins to flow – spunky and at times garishly attired they are full of themselves and a joy to watch. There is plenty of filler here, but the film has two good segments – a twenty-minute stretch that is nearly non-stop action as these two battle swarms of bad guys and very bad girls – Moon is like the little engine that could and Yukari is a whirling deadly machine. Then the last fifteen minutes of the film cranks up the action again and our tender twosome take on a near battalion with a never-ending supply of hand grenades. When the camera is focused on these two, it is a little bit of paradise for fans of this genre and of these two actresses.
And I can’t forget the lipsticked one – Carrie Ng – who doesn’t really do much here but look yummy in her sunglasses, uniform and red splashed ruby lips. The director is clearly in love with her look as well and near fetishizes her in one scene in which a fierce battle is taking place and Carrie is simply watching it – but the camera takes a near minute break from the goings on below to simply stare at Carrie as she dramatically . . . removes her sunglasses. It was just lovely!

Note: The film is available on DVD but it only has the Mandarin track - but the picture is fairly clean and colorful.

My rating for this film: 6.0