Director: Corey Yuen
Cast: Shannon Lee, Michael Wong, Anita Yuen, Jordan Chan
Plot: Mandy (Shannon Lee) teams up with an ex-partner and two amateur pickpockets to steal the largest diamond in the Czech Republic.
Some might argue that Bruce Lee was one of the greatest martial artists in cinema history. Even if you prefer the likes of Jet Li, Jackie Chan or even Van Damme, Lee remains the most memorable of his era. Brandon Lee also has his own notoriety, even if his career was tragically short-lived. However, then there is the lesser known Shannon Lee, Bruce’s daughter, who never quite broke into the martial arts movie field like her family did. When she was heading films like And Now You’re Dead, it’s easy to see why.
What Corey Yuen gives us is a pretty poor action flick. It is totally generic. There are several jewel thieves, double-crossing each other left, right and centre. It tries to be enigmatic, making us guess who the bad guys are, but there are so many twists, it does a complete 180 degrees turn and becomes terribly predictable. We have figured out who to trust, as soon as each character shows their face on the screen. It’s almost catch 22. If you have watched your fair share of martial arts actions, then you will see every trick coming, scenes before it happens. However, if martial arts is a new genre for you, this will seem like such a poor attempt at film-making.
So the story’s predictable. Films have survived worst. Do the cast hold it together? Well, no. The male pickpocket is the most abysmal actor I have ever witnessed, to the point where I am wondering where the logic in casting him was. Sure, these kind of films put martial arts before acting yet there are so many better choices for actors out there. The second the fighting dies down, you have to struggle with these characters, devoid of any acting bone in their body, struggle through a script that isn’t too good in the first place.
Maybe I came into this movie expecting too much. I am a John Woo fan through and through, so mindless action movies make me think of his earlier stuff, before he got famous. Hell, I can put up with the worst of Van Damme’s flicks. But I just didn’t get this. I am sure that the fight scenes will rescue this film for some people and make it worth the watch, but for me, I wanted a little more story and acting with my action. I found this film really dull and only gave me modest entertaining highs.
But the really sad thing about the entire film is that Shannon Lee is on top form. The girl can fight and she is the only person here who can act (or at least act in the same league as Stallone and Van Damme). She is a great lead here and she is ready to take on the world that her father lived in and her brother would have done. Every action star has debuted in rubbish like this, so in another universe Shannon Lee would have had a massive impact on the action scene. As it stands, this film falls so badly, it kills Shannon’s career before it even started. Maybe that’s why I hate this film so much: the fact that Shannon Lee will never get the chance to live up to her father’s name depresses the hell out of me.
Final verdict: Shannon Lee shines in her first and only lead role. The rest of the film drags her down into obscurity though.