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The Heroic Trio
|     review #1     |    review #2    |     notes     |     awards     |     availability     |     also see      |
Chinese: 東方三俠
Anita Mui, Michelle Yeoh and Maggie Cheung
Year: 1993
Director: Johnnie To Kei-Fung
Action: Ching Siu-Tung
Cast: Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk, Anita Mui Yim-Fong, Michelle Yeoh, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Damian Lau Chung-Yun, James Pax, Paul Chun Pui, Yen Shi-Kwan, Mimi Chu Mi-Mi, Louis Yuen Siu-Cheung
The Skinny: Evil Underworld Demon Master is stealing babies to facilitate a plan to take over China. Three female superheroes help the police to stop him. Considered a cult classic.
by Kozo:

Mondo-famous Hong Kong action flick about a trio of fighting females who square off against some ancient Ming Dynasty eunuch. It seems this bastard from the past is stealing babies in an attempt to find a new emperor and take over the country. That would be bad, so the three women must overcome their differences and join forces.

Anita Mui is Wonder Woman (No, not that Wonder Woman), who's married to cop Damian Lau by day. By night, she straps on a mask and takes to the rooftops. Maggie Cheung is Thief Catcher, a tough-as-nails mercenary who offers to find the bad guys for bucks. Michelle Yeoh is Invisible Girl, who starts off as a lackey of the eunuch but eventually sees that she doesn't have to follow such a dastardly fellow. And besides, if she didn't turn on the evil eunuch, then the film would be called Heroic Duo vs. Invisible Girl, which sounds like the title of a Marvel Team-Up comic book. Also starring Anthony Wong as the mute, beast-like Kau.

The Heroic Trio has great action courtesy of Ching Siu-Tung, and the story and cinematography are enjoyable in an urban fantasy sort-of-way. However, the film detours near the end for some disturbing violence that's far from necessary. What happens to kids and babies is sure to grab you, but calling this film "fun for all ages" might be pushing it. Fandom sings its praises, but this isn't my favorite Hong Kong flick. However, it's a uniquely Hong Kong motion picture and practically required viewing. (Kozo 1993/1998)

Alternate Review

Someone is kidnapping all the male babies in the city and the police have no clues. It turns out that a Dark Master of the Underworld lives in the sewers and is taking them. He needs them because they were all born as potential Emperors, and he needs the future Emperor if he plans to take over China. The police eventually enlist the help of superheroes Wonder Woman (Anita Mui) and Thief Catcher (Maggie Cheung) to stop the evil fiend.

Against the two heroes is Invisible Girl (Michelle Yeoh), who's working for the Master and is assigned to watch over a young scientist (James Pax). The scientist is trying to create an invisible robe and Invisible Girl is supposed to kill him when he's finished. It turns out that the three women have a previous connection. Thief Catcher and Invisible Woman knew each other when Thief Catcher lived in the underworld but ran away ten years earlier. Wonder Woman and Invisible Girl knew each other as children but were separated when Invisible Girl left to live in the underworld. It turns out that Invisible Girl is not as bad as she seems. She's actually a good soul who's simply taken the wrong path. To redeem herself, she decides to help out the scientist and joins with her fellow superheroes to defeat the Dark Master.

The supernatural fight sequences choreographed by Ching Siu Tung (A Chinese Ghost Story) are dark, violent and bursting with creative energy. Of particular note is the train station scene, which features the most creative decapitation weapon ever to be wielded by a demon (played via grunts and growls by Anthony Wong). The production design is also worthy of note, as the city is not necessarily Hong Kong, but more of fictional Gotham City-type place. The score is catchy and boasts a theme song by Anita Mui. However, the largest reason this film works is because of the three female leads. Each is given a chance to shine both in the action scenes as well as the dramatic ones. It's clear why the three are considered three of Hong Kong's top female stars.

The artificial trappings tend to make the film feel set-bound and it's clear that there was a limited budget involved, but none of that takes away from the overall entertainment value of The Heroic Trio. There is also a sequel to the film titled The Executioners. (Magicvoice 2002)

Notes: • Many retail outlets have recently pulled the Tai-Seng version of The Heroic Trio as the U.S. rights have recently been purchased by Harvey Weinstein and his crew at Miramax films. This makes the film harder to get a hold of, but it's definitely worth the effort. For an alternative, there is always the lesser Universe DVD from Hong Kong.

The 13th Annual Hong Kong Film Awards
Winner - Best Song ("Woman's Heart", performed by Anita Mui Yim-Fong)
Nomination - Best Costume Design (Yu Ka-On)
Nomination - Best Action Design (Ching Siu-Tung)
Nomination - Best Original Score (Wu Wai-Lap)
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Johnnie To: The Heroic Trio Series Box Set
Mega Star (HK)
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Subtitles
Also see: Executioners (1993)
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image courtesy of Tai-Seng Video Marketing, Ltd. Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen