Maginificent Warriors -- *** (out of 5) (1987)
Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Richard Ng, Chindy Lau, Tung-Shing Lee, Lowell Lo
Directed By David Chung
About five years after the release of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Hong Kong releases one of its better "homages" to the Spielberg classic with Magnificent Warriors. Like Raiders, this film also takes place around the time of World War II, with the Japanese army invading parts of the mainland Asia. A small but well-protected village has been taken over by the ruthless Japanese, who are planning on using the place to make chemical weapons to use on the Chinese. Michelle Yeoh plays a mercenary Indiana Jones-type spy who, along with a couple of other self-seekers, gets caught in the crossfire between the competing countries. Through no choice of their own, they decide to become heroes for China and fight back.
Magnificent Warriors, while not nearly as awe-inspiring as its American predecessor, does deliver enough dynamite action and humor to make it worthwhile viewing. Michelle Yeoh shows why she's Asia's female equivalent of Jackie Chan, showing terrific finesse in the well-choreographed fight sequences, and she also delivers in the charm department with her infectious smile. Richard Ng provides comic relief as usual, and while the humor isn't exactly knee-slapping, it's cute and never seems inappropriate to the overall story.
Magnificent Warriors could have been a better film with a less repetitive score, an increase in character development, and a better choice for Japanese actors. Still, the film does deliver the minimal requirements for an Indiana Clone: adventure, excitement, and humor. No, it isn't must-see viewing, or even particularly memorable, but while it plays it's almost impossible to dislike. Infectious fun.
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