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Special Female Force

Water sports with the Special Female Force.



Year: 2016  
Director: Wilson Chin Kwok-Wai
Producer: Charlie Wong Wing-Fung, Chimmey Chan Ka-Lok, Kwong Kwan-Yin, Stanley Law Tak-Ming, Paco Wong
Cast: Eliza Sam Lai-Heung, Joyce Cheng Yan-Yi, Jay Leung Jing, Jeana Ho Pui-Yu, Cathryn Lee, Mandy Ho Pui-Man, Anita Chui, Chris Tong, Jacky Cai, Evergreen Mak Cheung-Ching, Philip Ng Won-Lung, Siu Fei, Edward Ma Chi-Wai, Jacqueline Chong Si-Man, Stephy Tang Lai-Yun, Shirley Yeung Sze-Ki, Rose Chan Ka-Woon, Jessica C, Hazel Tong Chi-Yui, Ken Lo Wai-Kwong, Hidy Yu, Wang Ruoyi, Aaron Chow, Chin Kar-Lok, Jerry Lamb Hiu-Fung
The Skinny: Mediocre revival of the “fighting females” and “girls with guns” genres that Hong Kong Cinema was once celebrated for. Filmmaking is decidedly subpar but given the talent (average) and stakes (nonexistent), this is a passable nostalgia fix. If the genre had better current representation, Special Female Force would rate much more poorly.
by Kozo:

The girls-with-guns action-comedy Special Female Force is resolutely average, which is kind of a win if you consider the state of the genre. More specifically, the genre barely exists anymore, such that a quality-challenged example feels welcome even if it was directed by Wilson Chin (the Lan Kwai Fong “films”). Special Female Force is an update of the semi-classic Inspectors Wear Skirts series, about a ragtag group of young women who enter basic training to join an all-female law enforcement group. The reason for this all-women squad's existence? Who really cares? It's women in tank tops beating the crap out of people and shooting big machine guns. Does a movie like this really need justification? Well, maybe it does in 2016, but to generalize while using cinema history as our guide: No justification is really necessary. People always get excited about female fighting flicks (with bonus points for tank tops) and that's just the way it's always been. For a discussion of whether the genre should be popular anymore, look someplace besides this review.

The exceptionally thin story: A group of girls enter training to join the Female Force, and are split into four groups to compete under the watch of the no-nonsense Madam Fong (Jay Leung). The story focuses on Team D, comprised of Fa (TVB starlet Eliza Sam), a cheerful girl with fortune-telling lineage; Honey (Joyce Cheng), the plump and sassy comic relief; Tung (Jeana Ho), a cool hardass who's above "acting like a girl"; Cat (Malaysian actress Cathryn Lee), who joins the Female Force to annoy her sexist SDU boyfriend (Philip Ng); Ling-Ling (Anita Chui), a buxom and somewhat dim beauty queen; and Ho (Mandy Ho), the sexually ambiguous fighter of the group. Together, the girls proceeds to stink it up in competition, which earns the ire of the superior Team A, led by Iris (Chris Tong). Predictable inter-team conflicts also arise. From minute one, Tung wants off Team D and may be willing to stab her teammates in the back to advance herself. The development and outcome of this storyline is exactly what you expect.

Not a spoiler, but sisterhood develops and the girls eventually unite to take on “The President”, an evil bastard who was responsible for destroying the last iteration of the Female Force twenty years ago. That event is detailed in the film’s opening, which reveals that Madam Fong (played as a younger woman by Stephy Tang) was the team’s sole survivor. So you can add vengeance to the film’s themes, next to friendship, teamwork, family, self-respect, blah, blah, blah. Special Female Force offers a laundry list of familiar movie emotions – but come on, this is a movie about hot girls shooting and kicking things so that’s where our critical focus should be applied. The hotness of the girls is a “your mileage may vary” thing, so let’s just credit the filmmakers for giving us ample opportunities to judge, such as the numerous shots of Anita Chui’s cleavage, and the climax where the girls change into Lara Croft cosplay for no logical reason. Wilson Chin knows what side his bread is buttered on, and he slathers that churned dairy on with no apologies.

Shaky cam is generously employed during the action sequences – which is never a sign of quality – but the girls do OK for non-martial artists. The lone actress with any semblance of training is Mandy Ho, which means she gets some full shots where she kicks or punches things. Nothing in Special Female Force compares to the balls-to-the-walls intensity of similar eighties films – even a lighter example like Inspectors Wear Skirts had surprising impact – so those with high expectations should either lower them or look elsewhere. The gunplay is also just OK; the filmmakers seem content with simply having girls shoot guns and never attempt anything that creative. All that said, the action sequences are lengthy, and the degree of violence is unexpected. The opening, in particular, contains a surprising amount of blood and violence, as the original Female Force is offed in near-graphic fashion. Innocents and likeable characters also die, which is the type of nihilism that Hong Kong Cinema was once known for. Fans who like that type of thing should count this as a positive.

Production values are only average. The cinematography is washed out, continuity is awful, and the music (both score and song choices) is just terrible. By any empirical measure, Special Female Force is not good but its rarity and lack of pretension make it an excusable genre exercise. The performers are adequate given the stakes. Eliza Sam has a pleasant screen presence though her TV-caliber acting is apparent when she emotes seriously. Anita Chui gets by on her figure while Mandy Ho does the same with her athleticism. Jeana Ho and Cathryn Lee are both serviceable as the intense recruit and the free-spirited team member, respectively. The best of the bunch is really Joyce Cheng, whose comic chops make her the Sandra Ng stand-in of this Inspectors Wear Skirts update. More in this genre would certainly be welcome, but I'd rather they start over than make a sequel. The Inspectors Wear Skirts movies got progressively worse, and given the mediocrity of Special Female Force, any sequel would probably be unwatchable. (Kozo, 12/2016)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
CN Entertainment Ltd.
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
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