Mid-Career:  The Philippines to South China

“Just call me Jane.  Just plain Jane.” (Yukari, in English, “Tapang Sa Tapang”)

With the rise of Category III productions in the early 1990s, Hong Kong filmmakers turned increasingly toward graphic violence, explicit sex and Western-style action.  The market for martial arts movies of the type Yukari had been making evidently decreased, and she relocated to the Philippines where the audience was still strong.  While she had been originally known in Hong Kong as Yukari Tsumura  - the name under which she had made some of her best early films - and only later as Yukari Oshima, she was known in the Philippines as Cynthia Luster.  She subsequently appeared in several additional Philippino productions after those directed by Philip Ko (e.g., “Once Upon A Time In Manila,” 1994, “Pintsik,” 1994, “Tapang Sa Tapang,” 1997).  As with all her Philippino movie appearances she was typecast as the supporting romantic interest of the male lead - typically a Rambo-like figure.  The effect of this dissipation of Yukari’s power might be compared to imagining the effect on Ripley’s character in the “Alien” series if she had been subordinated to a male lead. 

“What’s to look.  Like an airport runway, flat.” (“The Direct Line”)

By the mid-1990s it appeared that Yukari’s film career was essentially dead in the water.  She had appeared in a number of awful soft-core pornographic films (with her clothes firmly in place) (“Devil Girl 18,” 1992, “Ghost’s Love,” 1993, “His Way, Her Way, Their Ways!” 1994, “1/3 Lover,” 1995, “Guardian Angel,” 1996).  It stands to reason that she would not have done this other than needing the work.  She also reportedly ran a talent agency (reputedly called “Funky Carnival”) and helped launch the career of Sophia Crawford.  After seeming to take essentially any part she could - including some rather humiliating roles - Yukari evidently clawed her way back into the mainstream with a series of strong performances.

In the Taiwanese production “Drugs Fighters” (1995) she delivers some of her best action sequences, followed with comparable skill in “Tapang Sa Tapang” (1997).  Her recent roles have once more reverted to fight scene cameos (“Super Cops,” 1997, “Tiger Angels,” 1997, “Leopard Hunting,” 1998, “The Golden Nightmare,” 1998) but are still energetic and entertaining.  She has also appeared in several recent low budget Mainland Chinese or Hong Kong productions (“To Kiss Is Fatal,” 1998, “Double Sin,” 1999, “It Takes A Thief,” 1999) in personally conservative roles that may suggest an attempt to position herself as a more serious actor.  One remarkable exception has been a very low budget (shot on tape) remake of “Vengeance Is Mine” (1997) in which Yukari has perhaps the most screen time of any of her movies.  She spends some of it displaying anger toward men and the exploitation of women in the movie industry.  It may be noted that Yukari has now returned to the name Tsumura.

After rumors of an injury and conspicuous avoidance of punching in her most recent action parts, Yukari appears to have made a strong comeback with her latest appearance in “It Takes A Thief” (1999).  After several years of declining quotients of action, this film once shows Yukari - now middle aged - at full throttle.  Most of her trademark forms and skills are back on display.  She’s again punching and kicking her way through multiple opponents, as well as rolling in the mud, during an extended fight sequence.