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Review Lethal Panther a.k.a. Jing tian long hu bao (1990): Remarkable mix of Girls with Guns, Heroic Bloodshed and Catergory III!

genre: girls with guns, heroic bloodshed, gun fu, action, martial arts

If you are familiar with Godfrey Ho's work you will know that he makes real bad films. But they often are so bad that they are incredibly hilarious and entertaining. Lethal Panther might be one of the rare works that for the most part is a typical B action flick made in the glorious days of Hong Kong Cinema. However this is still very much a Godfrey Ho film so don't be surprised if you will see things that make no sense whatsoever.

For one thing the plot. It's nearly absent. In general it's about three women targeting a crime syndicate who trade fake dollars. One is a female assassin played by Yoko Miyamoto, another female assassin played by Maria Yuen and a female CIA agent played by Sibelle Hu. While this is easily one of the most coherent played out films made by Godfrey it's not as coherent and conventional as one might hope simply because plot development is non existing. Things just happen like they normally would in John Woo type gangster flicks. Except John Woo usually takes the time to weave events together in a way that there is a beginning, a middle and an end. Events in Lethal Panther are all over the place. But when they do occur they are pretty damn entertaining. Sure the action misses the style, the choreography and sophistication of John Woo but I couldn't stop smiling since it was enjoyable any way. 

Most of the time this is because of the female leads. Especially Yoko Miyamoto impresses. She is beautiful and full of grace. Had I not read that Lethal Panther was the only film she was in I would not have guessed it. She acts like she is a veteran actor. Why she never made films after is something I surely want to find out as she would have been a big star for sure. 

The other one I liked is Maria Yuen. She plays though but is very feminine and sexy. But never in a sleazy way even when they try hard to let her be sleazy. She is class all the way. As far as I am concerned she deserved much better than to be in Category III flicks only. Speaking of Category III. There are some supposed erotic scenes I guess intended to be arousing. And sure not going to lie that Maria Yeun is gorgeous when nude and covered in liquids (I assume milk, please let it be milk and not something else). But to say those scenes achieve their goal? I don't think so. 

For people wondering about Sibelle Hu, I will have to disappoint you. She is nothing but a glorified cameo where most of the scenes she does is very obviously doubled by stuntmen. So much so you could ask yourself why they even bothered. Next to her you probably will recognize some actors like Ken Lo (Jackie Chan Stunt Team) and Alex Fong. But they only appear very briefly.

Overall I had a very good time watching this girls with guns flick even when it's directed by Godfrey Ho. It also helped that the Blu-Ray version of this title is among the best transfers I have seen. Clear and clean image with very bright colors. Audio is good too. Godfrey very blatantly ripped off background themes from Woo's work and other films. They don't always match the intensity of the scenes but did wonders pure on a nostalgic level. So certainly worth the purchase if you are a fan of the genre like me.

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