Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Women Warriors, Part Two: MOON LEE

Before I go into the heart of this installment, a quick word about filmmaker James Glickenhaus, the only guy in cinematic history who could make Uwe Boll look like Spielberg. Glickenhaus annoys me...other cinephiles condemn him as a hack. You'd say, "So what, most filmmakers these days aren't exactly equal to the very film they shoot with!" True. I've seen most of his movies, even his signature film, "The Exterminator" from 1980. He could have done so much better, but what really annoyed me was that he botched Jackie Chan's second try at getting into American films, "The Protector" (1985)...the film also featured the American debut of Hong Kong actress Moon Lee. Again, Glickenhaus didn't do well because of slow pacing and the simple fact he refused to play up Jackie Chan's strengths. Instead of Jackie Chan in a kinetic, exciting adventure, we got a crawling yarn with Jackie forced to try to imitate Dirty Harry. "The Protector" flopped in the U.S....and Jackie felt the need to reshoot some scenes to make it better for audiences in Asia.

A gentle challenge to Mister Glickenhaus. I've got degrees in film and video production. Give me, oh, ten million dollars, and I'll bet you I can make a movie just as good -- if not better -- than anything you've ever done, from "The Exterminator" to "Timemaster". If I succeed, we split the profits. If I don't succeed, I'll clean your exotic cars.

That same challenge goes to Uwe Boll, by the way.

Now, back to my newest installment of Women Warriors. (Finally!) I focus now on the lady who helped Yukari Oshima start the surge of Girls With Guns films in Hong Kong cinema, Moon Lee.

Moon, classically trained in dance, got her start in television and quickly gravitated to a higher profile in movies. She was undeniably talented, amazingly cute, and yet there was nothing really remarkable about her roles for a while. Moon left an undeniably positive mark in films like "Zu: Warriors From the Magic Mountain", "Mr. Vampire" and the previously mentioned "The Protector" in the early 1980's. (I've seen those films, so I should know.)

But it was the lack of anything remarkable in those previous roles, maybe, that made Moon decide to co-star with Yukari and another talented lady, Elaine Lui, in 1987's "Angel"...and begin her undeniable reign as a princess, if not THE princess, of the Girls With Guns.

The affect Moon has on a viewer of "Angel" and other action movies she starred in usually goes something like this: "Whoa, she's cute! Cheerleader-cute! Wait, this is an action film, right?" Then the action hits...then MOON hits...the viewer's jaw then drops and one thought comes to mind: "Holy damn, she kicks ass!" Without a doubt she did, Pilgrim, and in almost thirty movies. But she didn't just kick ass, often going toe to toe against or fighting with Yukari Oshima, she could sing, do comedy, and naturally, dance. Try to watch "Nocturnal Demon", a comedy-slasher movie (yes, you read that right!), without at least getting a smile on your face because of Moon being so adorable and funny, even when she's busting heads.

Moon Lee got married and retired from acting in her early thirties(!), and she's been missed by fans ever since...at least I miss her, a lot. The Girls With Guns films had seemed to run their course not long before that, so maybe she felt it was time to move on to better things? But Moon is still amazingly cute...and I don't doubt she can still kick ass with the best of them. :)

1 comment:

  1. Even though she doesn't admit it...and many can't recognize it, Li Choi Fung (Moon Li)eventually became very good at martial arts. She could kick the average ass...