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The Film
Heroic Trio

Its Origin
Hong Kong

Running Time
88 mins

Genre(s)
Martial Arts
Fantasy

Director(s)
Johnnie To
Ching Siu Tung

Stars
Michelle Yeoh
Anita Mui
Maggie Cheung
Anthony Wong

DVD Distributor
Universe

DVD Origin
Hong Kong

Region Code
All

DVD Format
NTSC

Audio Tracks
Cantonese DD 2.0
Mandarin DD 2.0


Subtitles
Chinese, English, Bahasa Malaysia

Screen Format
Letterboxed

Special Info
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Film rating:
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Heroic Trio


Film & DVD Review

The Film
Tung and Ching were both adopted by the same master. But later Ching was abducted by the eunuch-Chan. Ching grew up and became scientist Li's assistant and Tung married officer Lau. Chat had escaped from Chan at the age of 15 and became a thief-catcher. When eunuch-Chan's evil plan comes to the foreground, the three have no alternative but to unite and become the "Heoines of the East" - The Heroic Trio.

Michelle Yeoh, Maggie Cheung and Anita Mui all in the one film. That in itself is a good enough reason to watch The Heroic Trio. Three of my favourite female Hong Kong action stars all starring as super hero type characters, with the added bonus of even wearing the obligatory tight super heroes costume! Does it even really matter if the film is any good or not? Well that is the male lust side of me speaking, and now that I have got it out of the way I'll start talking about the film.

First off, this is another fantasy film, and will be best enjoyed if you put your brain on stand-by, or just switch it off, and just let all the ridiculous fun soak in. The film is so unrealistic and far fetched that if you even try to take a bit of it seriously you'll probably not enjoy the whole experience as much.

The three stars are all expert martial artists, but initially are not working together as they come from different backgrounds. Anitia Mui's alter ego is the super heroine known as Wonder Girl. It would appear that before the film joins the action Wonder Girl had saved the day on many an occassion. In the daytime she is the wife of a police inspector.

Michelle Yeoh is the hench-man, or rather woman, for an evil Master who is behind a plan to steal a specific number of babies, in order to fulfill a prophecy that one of them is to be the King of China. As her alter-ego, Invisible Woman (initially - later in the film she drops the invisible feature) she is behind the theft of the babies, and will carry out any order when issued by the Master, who is a nasty piece of work with supernatural powers. In her day, Yeoh is the wife of a research Doctor, who is researching invisibility and is trying to construct and invisible robe. Needless to say he is not aware that his wife has been using it for bad deeds.

Maggie Cheung is at her hilarious best in this film. She is known as the Thief Catcher, and has helped the police out on several occassions. However, she is more the mercenery type, doing what she does for money. She excaped from the Master 10 years prior to the film joining the action, and as far as he is aware she is dead. She is more wreckless than the other two, and has much more of an attitude! The Thief Catcher is not her alter-ego, that is just the way she is, wreckless and funny!

So that is the main three characters, and they all end up crossing paths in the case of the missing babies. Cheung and Mui realise that Yeoh is stealing the babies, but only as she has been ordered to do so. The two come to Yeoh's aid to try to persuade her to fight against the Master, and to help rescue the babies.

Ok, so that is a rather broken summary of what is going on in the film, but obviously I do not want to tell you the whole story, so you'll hve to watch it to get the finer details relating to the charcters and their lives, and also other plot factors which I have over looked.

Action-wise, the film is pretty good. The majority of the kung fu is wire-fu orientated, which, in my opinion, makes the fight scenes less awe-inspiring to watch but it keeps the film thouroughly in the realms of fantasy. They are still very entertaining nonetheless. Gravity and realism are not factors to be considered, especially looking at the motor-bike spinning attack scene! However there are still some fights that are more hand to hand and foot with only minor influences from wires, most of which involve Michelle Yeoh and show glimpses of her incredible ability.

The best thing about the film, though, is the interaction between the characters, and in particular the whole character of the Thief Catcher. Maggie Cheung is brilliant in this role, being hysterically funny, dangerous and really pretty damn sexy looking, all at the same time. She is loud and out-going, and great to watch.

The film also features Anthony Wong as one of the Master's servants. He's got a shaved head in this one, and is really quite insane. Nonetheless, it is quite good to have a big name star such as him in a more minor role.

Audio & Subtitles
As far as the audio track is concerned, The Heroic Trio, along with a host of other Hong Kong produced dvds which I have watched, suffers from the fact that the spoken words are fractionally out of synchronisation to the actors or actresses lips. Despite being clearly audible I find this bad timing really annoying. Regardless of the fact that I can't understand the vast majority of the language being spoken having bad lip-synch with the speach gives the film a slight feel of being dubbed, and I HATE dubbed films. I've watched too many atrociously dubbed films in the past to bear watching any more, so I much prefer it when it is obvious that the people on screen are saying the sounds that I am hearing. That is why I always choose the original soundtrack to a film with english subtitles - regardless of how bad the subs are! The rest of the sound is pretty good, from the swishes of the swords, to the clanging of weapons together, I thought it was all crisp and clear sounding and had no complaints.

The subtitles were really a little bit disappointing. There were spelling mistakes on a reasonably frequent basis, and the grammar at times left quite a bit to be desired. It was still obvious what was meant at these times, e.g. "So far, no missing baby's family, they have received any blackmail letter." Not great english but I got the point. Despite this, they had the plus point of being very clear. A nice bold white with a black border making them very legible even when on a light background. They were also positioned on the film print meaning that those with a widescreen TV would not have them chopped off when watching the film in full widescreen mode!

Quality
The quality of the film print was not as good as you would hope for a dvd. In some scenes it was just like watching the film on a poor cinema print, with all the dirt grains a lines flickering on screen. It is an understatement to say it was disappointing to see such mess on the print. A bit more effort, or any effort at all, in the original film print clean up process would not have gone amiss. That being said, after the all the mess that flickers on screen in the earlier part of the film, I do not remember much at all in the latter parts. Other than that, the colours appear quite vibrant and the full widescreen picture does look good. However, I do not think there is as much fine detail present when compared to some other films, leaving the film without the really crisp and clear feel to it, which is a bit of a shame.

DVD & Extras
The main menu of the dvd is rather dull and boring. It is just a static screen of the three heroines with the menues at the side. Plus point on the menues, they are in both Chinese and English! Aside from the usual scene selection, language and subtitle options, there is a Stars' Files option. Given the three high profile female leads that are in this film I thought this would be a pretty good read. Then I went into the menu. You've got a (brief) bit on Michelee Yeoh, but nothing on Anita Mui or Maggie Cheung! The other two people to get a mention here are Johnnie To and Ching Siu Tung, the directors. Missing out two of the leading ladies I think is a bit of a crime, and something that should not have been done. There is also a trailer, and a More Attractions extras. On the whole nothing that impressive.

Overall
As the extras contained on the disc somewhat uninspiring, the only reason for getting this dvd would be for the film itself. If you already own this film on VHS, then this DVD isn't really a huge step up. I'd still get it, as it is a far more durable medium than VHS, but quality wise there is no real improvement in my opinion.

BUT, for those of you who do not already on this film, then I do recommend you buy it. It is a good old fashioned 'no brains needed' fantasy action flick. It's got three gorgeous female leads, lots of humour, guns, martial arts and some tight costumes. What more could you want?! If that doesn't convince you, then let me just say that it is good entertainment, and is a film what would fit in well for a friday evening's chilling out with your friends.

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All review content copyrighted © (2003-2009) Kris Wojciechowski

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