The “Girls With Guns” genre is back in “The Fatal Raid”, a non-stop, ballistic, martial-arts, cops and gangsters extravaganza, starring Jade Leung and Patrick Tam. Releases 24th August 2021, on Blu-ray, DVD and VOD via Well Go USA!
Jade Leung stars as “Madam Jade Fong”, a special ops cop. Leung rose to stardom in the “Black Cat” movies, and titles such as “Satin Steel” and “Enemy Shadow”.
Acclaimed Hong Kong actor and singer Patrick Tam stars as “Inspector Tan Ka Ming”. He has had notable roles in films such as “Beast Cops”, “All’s Well, Ends Well”, “Ip Man 3”, “Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy” and “The Myth”. He can currently be seen in Donnie Yen’s blockbuster “Raging Fire”.
Min-Chen Lin (“Vampire Cleanup Department”) plays “Zhi Hen”, with Jeana Ho (“Special Female Force”, “Raging Fire”) co-starring as “Alma”. Michael Tong (“Man of Tai Chi”, “God of War”, “The Unity of Heroes”), Kristy Yeung (“The Storm Riders”, “Young Bruce Lee”, “Good Bye, My Princess”, “Detective Dee’s Hell Road”) and Hidy Yu (“Vampire Warriors”, “Kick Ass Girls”, “Special Female Force”) fill out the rest of the supporting roles.
Two elite police teams head up a secret operation following a dangerous smuggling ring across the Macau border, but when their presence is discovered, the mission ends in a deadly firefight.
Twenty years later, an escort mission brings the survivors back to the scene of the tragedy fostering a highly unwelcome reunion.
Tough, Female, Undercover Cops Deliver
The action opens with a hard-hitting police operation gone awry. The twist here is that the undercover cops taking out the criminal scum are female. They are as tough as any male movie equivalent, dispatching their marks using MMA skills or ruthless pistol headshots, without hesitation.
It sets the tone for what is simultaneously a gritty crime thriller, and hyper pop-style filmed action exploitation flick.
John Woo-esque Gunplay
With the fighting skills established, we soon move into SWAT-style tactical urban warfare. The shootouts are slow motion festivals of automatic weapons fire and explosions. I don’t think I have seen so much use of slow motion gunplay since John Woo‘s pre-Hollywood heyday.
Adept Women Handle the Action
Whilst the classics that established the genre had head-turning acrobatics and high-kicking from the likes of Michelle Yeoh, Cynthia Rothrock, Cynthia Khan, Moon Lee and Joyce Godenzi, you won’t catch any aerial cartwheels or split kicks from this cast. However, they all look very adept when handling firearms, landing a solid roundhouse kick, or taking someone down with an armbar.
The martial arts choreography isn’t necessarily showy, but still throws in a few cool moves to raise the corners of the viewer’s mouth.
Stick around during the end credits for a behind-the-scenes look at how the action was rehearsed and captured.
“The Fatal Raid” takes a good stab at making an 80’s “Babes With Guns” film for the 21st century. It certainly captures some of the flavour of classics such as “She Shoots Straight” or “Royal Warriors”.
The updated stunts and action are performed and filmed in a much more modern way, tending to nod towards gritty realism rather than the more flamboyant, often jaw-dropping, theatrics of Hong Kong’s golden era.
Perhaps inevitably for this genre, the film occasionally dips into misogynistic voyeurism, with slow motion camerawork lingering over the actresses’ bodies. Overall though, the female characters are presented in a positive light and if their roles were male police officers, the script would hardly need changing.
In fact, in terms of screenplay, dialogue and acting, this is where “The Fatal Raid” frequently outshines its peers from the late eighties and early nineties.
“The Fatal Raid” is a pleasant surprise, perhaps reviving a genre that you might not have expected this side of the millennium. A solid addition to Hong Kong cinema’s recent pantheon of modern cops and gangsters action films, regardless of the gender of its stars.
- Made on a reported budget of HK$15M.