The Heroic Trio (Dung fong saam hap) is a completely insane Hong Kong martial arts movie. The plot involves….well actually I have no idea what the plot was about, but it was fun. It had something to do with a scientist working on a way to make people invisible, and three female superheroes, and the kidnapping of babies by an old evil supernatural guy who used to be the master of two of the women superheroes. These three superhero types, played by Michelle Yeoh, Maggie Cheung and Anita Lui, spend most of the movie trying to bet each other up, while intermittently helping out the police in a number of cases that may or may not have had something to do with the main plot.
The main thing is, you have three beautiful women doing lots of cool stunts, and you have some truly breath-taking visual ideas. Unlike most Hollywood action movies the action sequences don’t just rely on violence, gore and blowing stuff up. They’re bizarre, surreal and surprising and filmed with a great deal of flair. There’s a genuine visual imagination at work here, not just special effects and a big budget. The strange chainmail helmet weapon and the room full of hanging bird cages are particularly noteworthy. There’s also a fairly scary unstoppable bad guy.
The acting is generally pretty decent for the type of film it is, with Michelle Yeoh being especially good. It’s non-stop thrills mixed with comedy, a dash of romance and a touch of pathos. If you’re going to do a comic-book style action movie, this is the way to do it (something that Hollywood will probably never learn).
The Region 4 DVD, from Force Video, features poor audio quality and a terrible English dub, and with no other options and no extras apart from a few trailers. At least it was cheap. The movie though is terrific.