Years ago, when in college, I found out about Hong Kong action films the same way most everyone in the West did: thanks to the extraordinary movies of Jackie Chan, which were finally being brought to the States by mainstream means. (Raise your hand if you remember "Rumble in the Bronx"! It wasn't his best movie by any means, but there was a lot more to come...Jackie's older films became accessible, along with new efforts ever since.) As great as Jackie is, though, he consequently turned us on to all manner of great films and the talents responsible for them from Hong Kong. In my case, I became aware of a sub-genre of HK films in particular known as the 'Girls With Guns' films, and I haven't been the same since.
What is more attractive than a beautiful woman? Watching a beautiful woman defy convention and kick serious ass, that's what. This is the start of one of many installments in which I'll give you an idea to what makes me tick by telling you about things and people I love. Without a doubt, I love the 'Girls With Guns' films and other movies from HK and Japan that aren't afraid to bring us women who can kick my ass easily, but are so beautiful (in more ways than one) I couldn't care less as long as I get to watch.
One of the first 'Girls With Guns' actresses I couldn't help but notice was Yukari Oshima.
Just looking at Yukari's beautiful repose as she gave a hard-as-steel stare at an opponent got my attention instantly. Unlike most actresses in films, even Hong Kong films where actors have to do their own stunts more often than not, Yukari can honestly fight and it shows in every film I've seen her in. From "Shanghai Express" to "It Takes a Thief", nearly all of her performances show a clear and present fighting ability and power that isn't just as beautiful as she is, what she brings to the screen can be honestly daunting. Each and every move she makes means business. In the classic "Angel", which helped make 'Girls With Guns' films popular in HK, Yukari starred as a truly frightening villain who was as strong as she was sadistic. Due to clear and present prejudice in the HK film industry just because she was from Japan, however, her star never rose as high as it could have. No matter where she goes from here, though, the impression she can leave is undeniable, whether as a hero or villain.
Yukari Oshima certainly made an impression on me...she was my first and foremost inspiration for the title character of my novel, "Hell Knight". :)