Martial Angels (2001) / Action-Thriller
MPAA Rated: Not rated
Running Time: 86 min.
Cast: Shu Qi, Julian Cheung, Kelly Lin, Sandra Ng, Teresa Mak, Terence Yin
Director: Clarence Fok
Screenplay: Sharon Hui
Review published August 14, 2001
Even if there isn't much to films like Charlie's Angels except babes in skin tight outfits kicking butt and blowing things up, somehow that's almost enough to be entertained by these days. Martial Angels is Hong Kong's attempt to capitalize on the market created by the Hollywood version, but the only things Charlie's Angels had going for it is completely lacking. The women aren't stunners, the action is bland, the humor is awful, and perhaps in no other film in recent memory can I remember a low budget showing more. That a film with this many women in sexy outfits can't even deliver even on the basest of levels should tell you how truly worthless it really is.
Shu Qi (So Close, The Transporter) stars as Cat, a high-tech thief that's as good at what she does as she is beautiful. She meets Lok, her male counterpart in the business, and the two have a certain chemistry together. As time goes by, the two have drifted apart, and Cat even tries to go legit, but when the Russians kidnap Lok, Cat is the only one, along with six other stealthy babes, who can save him by stealing some software from a very secure, high-tech vault.
The most astonishing thing about Martial Angels is that someone actually thought they could pull off a big time, gadget-filled heist flick without investing any money into it. E-mail programs look like they are in DOS, the graphics in the computer programs might have been games on the Atari 2600, and the gadgets look like items director Clarence Fok (Century of the Dragon, Naked Killer) might have had laying around the house. For example, to get in the vault one has to put a hand on a therapeutic infrared massager. That's not a bad thing because it might prevent arthritis, which would make turning the large ceiling light fixture to open the door almost impossible. Once inside, the software is on a disc that resembles a business card cd-rom rotating in a device that looks like a Sega Dreamcast without the lid. To get "eye-candy" any less expensive, they'd have to go trick-or-treating.
Martial Angels also suffers from investing just as little in the script as it did in the production. One almost gets the impression that they shot without a script at all based on the paltry amounts of dialogue and situations that make almost no linear sense. Most of the women don't even talk, spending most of their free time looking pensively at the wall while smoking a cigarette. High-tech thievery never looked less glamorous.
Unless you have the most serious of love jones for any of the seven women in the cast, or are just a masochist, you should avoid Martial Angels at all costs. It's about as dull and dumb as action movies get in this era of explosions and high-flying kung fu ballets. One can only wonder how Angels was in the title when watching the film is such Hell.
©2000 Vince Leo