I’ll admit it, temperatures approaching the triple digit mark just kick the living snot out of me.
As interested as I am in attending author panels at the Festival of Books, the heat makes staying there for several hours a mental and physical challenge. Yesterday morning, I hung on every word by Jeff Loeb and Mike Mignola as they discussed Heroes and Hellboy in the “Comics: Superheroes of the Page and Screen” panel. But by the time the afternoon’s philosophical “Women of Slipstream” panel with Half Life author Shelley Jackson and Willful Creatures author Aimee Bender rolled around, I was ready to pull my teeth out.
But wait, you’re wondering, what does any of this have to do with lesbian assassins?
Tonight is the final night of the Silent Movie Theatre’s You Hit Like a Girl: The Ladies of Kung Fu, a film series that “celebrates the shattering of the glass ceiling” for female Asian action stars. It’s part of the Cinefamily’s larger Asian Sundays programming and the perfect cure for Festival of Books fatigue.
Tonight’s 9:30 p.m. double bill begins with Billy Chan Wui-Ngai’s License to Steal (1990). Starring Joyce Gadenzi and Agnes Aurelio as dueling thieves determined to swipe the coveted Napoleon Mask, the film was produced by the legendary Sammo Hung and is full of the elaborate and blazingly fast fight sequences the king of Hong Kong action film is known for.
But the real draw of the evening is Clarence Fok’s ultraviolent and hypersexual Naked Killer (1992), a film as close to David Lynch territory as Hong Kong action gets. The movie stars Simon Yam as a Hong Kong detective in the Anti-Triad Bureau who, since accidentally and fatally shooting his brother, can’t sustain an erection and pukes every time he brandishes a handgun.
The story begins when Yam falls for Kitty (Chingmy Yao), the prime supect in a string of all-male homicides. Kitty is soon recruited by Sister Cindy, a feminist kung-fu master and assassin (Kelly Yao, in the film’s best performance), and adopts the new persona of Susie. Things kick into high gear when Princess (Carrie Ng), the lesbian assassin responsibe for the homicides and also trained by Sister Cindy, decides to overthrow her mentor and recruit/seduce Susie to her side.
Full of slinky neon outfits, heavy groping in the rain, and ferocious fights on a set straight out of Beetlejuice, Naked Killer is the perfect way to escape the heat .
And you’ll forget about all those high-falutin’ author panels faster than Chun Li can say, “Spinning star kick!”
Stills from Naked Killer (top and bottom left) and License to Steal (right) courtesy of the Silent Movie Theatre.