Kick Ass Girls

Hong Kong (2013) Dir. Cheuk Wan Chi

The boxing gym Kick Ass Girls owned by Boo (Chrissie Chau) has no customers and the rent is not only overdue but her landlord is increasing it. At a rival gym Boo sees boy crazy Miu (Dada Lo) show off some impressive fighting skills and hires her as a new trainer to attract more male clients to her gym. While the idea is a hit the money is stolen during a belated 30th birthday party Miu throws for Boo, to which Boo’s former best friend and gym owning partner TT (Hidy Yu) shows up, having fallen out over TT dating Boo’s ex-boyfriend.

The party is interrupted by a group of men looking for fight who are duly dispatched by the collective efforts of the three ladies – but this was in fact a ruse by a jewellery dealer named Zhu Ge (Chris Tong), who is looking for female bodyguards to escort her on a business trip to Malaysia, an offer the girls readily accept. But once they get to Malaysia fears that their luxury trip seems too good to be true are shockingly realised.

This directorial debut from actress and writer Cheuk Wan Chi is a surprisingly tawdry and exploitative outing coming from a female, unless Cheuk is intent on showing the men of Hong Kong cinema that anything they can do…. Despite the shameless sexism and one dimensional comedy this is an energetic and rather fun little film although it is more of a guilty pleasure than a substantial crowd pleaser that isn’t shy is delivering what it promises – I don’t mean the action.

Similar to the Vietnamese outing The Lady Assassin the unabashed appeal of this film is seeing three foxy women doing what is says in the title and kicking ass (although quite why there are six foxy women in the poster is a mystery). The plot is fairly straightforward, playing up to the sexploitation allure of women using their charms to attract men to a flailing business while having them parade around in skimpy gym clothes (making a change from bikinis or slutty outfits but the intent is still the same).

There is a running joke in the film about how Boo is somehow over the hill by hitting 30 which falls flat due to this 30 year-old being played by the ravishing 28 year-old Chrissie Chau. If anything her taut bodied co-star, pop singer Hidy Yu looks much older.

Back to the plot and the first thirty minutes is made up of the aforementioned sexy shenanigans and fluffy comedy routines until the arrival of Zhu Ge and her tantalising offer. Of course we can spot a con a mile off but our leading ladies are blinded by the free, expenses paid holiday and handsome salary on top.

Upon arrival a quiet goth attired girl Amy (Cheuk Wan Chi herself), assigned by Zhu as their assistant, steals their passports as per her orders. To remind us this is a girly flick, the inevitable make-over takes place a few scenes later and wouldn’t you know it, Amy is a cutie in her own right – a fact that isn’t hidden by the gothic make-up.

As for the trouble the girls get into, this is in fact a welcome twist since the smart money would have been them being set up for a heist Zhu committed. Instead this alternative is far more brutal and in more enlightened and smarter hands, could have been used to make a serious point about the exploitation of women for financial and inhuman kicks.  

Suffice to say it involves their fighting prowess although it does expose one little cavil that is the key conceit of the film – that they can beat up twenty men armed with batons but take on three other women one on one? Does this mean that despite the ribald presentation and appealing to the libido of the male viewers that Cheuk was making a film about female superiority?

Not wishing to impugn Cheuk in any way but this does seem like an improbable conclusion to draw with little to suggest the script was ever meant to be so intelligent and daring. It does however carry a message about the importance of friendship and that big boobs beat a flat chest in the eyes of men (another running gag).

Also blighting the proceedings is how it is difficult to get a reading on the three main characters, who flit between being enemies and friends with such alacrity while always having room for bitchy comments whenever the whim takes them. It’s not so much that they are dislikeable, just inconsistent.

The fights scenes aren’t as plentiful as you may think for a film with this title, which may be down to the ladies not being renowned martial artists. They are able to demonstrate basic and safe moves – Hidy Yu appears to be the most proficient judging by the more complex routines she performs – assisted as always by some wire work and stunt doubles.

It might be that to accommodate the stand ins, we see an egregious continuity slip up in which Chau and Lo’s hair colour changes from light brown to black then back to brown again for this one section of the film. But the fights are well laid out and suffice to fulfil the kick ass remit despite not being exceptional or memorable. As a comedy trio the ladies create a believable chemistry, with Dada Lo proving the better comedian of the three as the whiny Miu, while Yu provides the tomboy energy and Chau the undeniable sex appeal.

When the poster and the title say it all one shouldn’t be too surprised when the film itself a glossy slice of superficial visual bubblegum. Kick Ass Girls is such a film which at least deserves props for delivering exactly what it advertises. Shameless but undemanding fun.