Movie Reviews 156 – Magnificent Warriors (1987)

Magnificent WarriorsPicture for a moment a whip wielding, ragged brown leather jacket wearing, biplane flying, 1930’s hero figure fighting it out with World War II Axis alliance powers stereotypes. Indiana Jones you say? No, this is a heroine, and the Axis powers targeted are the Imperial Japanese army, not the Germans. And that heroine relies more on kicks, karate chops, and twirling strings than on that whip. Welcome to the world of Indiana Jones rip-off movies.

But rip-off usually implies highly inferior, much lower budget, no name actors. In this case, the action is nearly as good, the budget is more than decent and the actors, while not household names to most of the world, are just as capable. The star of Magnificent Warriors (a.k.a the equally inspired Dynamite Fighters) is none other than Michelle Yeoh, who has since established her reputation worldwide, most notably in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Like an Indie Jones movie, there are people being dragged by army jeeps, lots of explosions and the movie is generally action packed from beginning to end, the difference being that the fighting action is all martial arts and of the highest quality I might add. Starting off as a simple rescue mission the story is essentially an example of Chinese common folk sticking it to their Japanese oppressors. The rescue effort starts out with Fok Ming-Ming (Yeoh, and yeah that probably one of the worst names they could have picked considering the English literal interpretation), but with some confusion,  misunderstandings and the inclusion of general hangers-on the rescue mission eventually includes comedic relief in the character of a lazy vagrant cheat, a young girl named Chin Chin (Cindy Lau whose martial arts move are nearly as impressive as Yeoh’s), another spy who goes by the name of “Sky Number One” and Youda, the inept Governor of the city of Kaal.

As a whole, the movie is sure to please, and while it comes close, it still isn’t Raiders of the Lost Ark. Just keep that in mind.

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