A missing purse causes no end of trouble in Hdeng Tsu’s snoozefest.
“She’s dead. Report it.”
Some films really stick with you long after you’ve left the theatre, or turned off the TV. You think about them, and mull over the story, the themes and the characters. You revise notes and take time to craft a review that reflects upon both the film as a piece of entertainment and as a messenger with a greater purpose. And sometimes the movie is Police Woman (or Young Tiger, according to Netflix) and you have to bash out a review quickly because otherwise you’ll forget everything about it.
Charlie Chin plays … a guy whose name I forget and who I can’t be bothered to research (I think it’s similar to his real life name, like Chin or Chen). He’s a cab driver who picks up a young woman (Chin Hu), who is pretty beat up after an incident with a local gang. After she dies in his cab, the driver starts getting harassed by the gang, led Jackie Chan in a distractingly terrible prosthetic. Also, eventually, Yuen Qiu shows up at the titular Police Woman (just way too late considering I’m sure she’s first billed).
Hey that was boring to write. And this film was boring to watch and likely will be to talk about. Let’s try! First off, it’s hard to talk about this movie and not discuss the weird, mole-shaped elephant in the room: Jackie Chan plays a bad guy. And not just any bad guy, but the primary antagonist of the entire film. Watching him try to run people down in a car is a weird look for him; even back then he had a prominent nice-guy face that makes his casting as a villain just … weird. It would be five years before Chan would get Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow and Drunken Master, the films that propelled him into stardom, so this would have to do for now.
The fact, however, is that this film is only remembered because of Chan’s involvement. No DVD release of this is going to show anything but Chan on the cover (usually in a generic stock photo or a still from another film). It’s shitty advertising that has no doubt disappointed countless fans who have no idea who Charlie Chin or didn’t recognise Yuen Qiu without her landlady costume on (frankly, neither did I). But it’s probably the only thing that’s kept the movie even remotely relevant forty-five years later. Outside of affable performances, it’s hard to really think of anything I can recommend about it. The worst part is that it’s not offensively bad, just unbelievably generic.
Speaking of which, I have to say it’s nice to see both the latter faces in something outside of their most famous roles. Charlie Chin’s career was certainly going strongly at the time but due to his retirement in the 90s, most of his filmography consists of romantic comedies that never even got an English title, let alone release. And with Yuen Qiu disappearing from the limelight for two decades (before making her glorious return to acting with Kung Fu Hustle), it’s also nice to see what she was up to before she took on the bad-ass old lady archetype. Both of them work nicely together, but it’s just a huge shame that we don’t see more of Yuen Qiu throughout.
But none of this is enough to save what is otherwise a tedious and extraordinarily boring Hong Kong action film. It seems to, like so many of its kind, lay the groundwork for the golden age of action cinema the following decade but the film does its rising stars no services whatsoever. Everything is just so forgettable that you’re better off watching another movie that barely has any Jackie Chan but still features him heavily on the box art, like Killer Meteors. Whatever the hell that is.
Verdict: One gigantic mole isn’t enough to make Police Woman stand out, like at all.
Overall entertainment: 5/10
MacGuffins: Just one, but boy won’t they shut up about it
Moles: Awful and fake
Here’s a fun fact. Both Dean Shek and Charlie Chin retired in 1992 to pursue real estate. I really hope they were in it together but never told anyone.
Police Woman (1973)
Also known as: 女警察, Young Tiger, Rumble in Hong Kong
Director: Hdeng Tsu
Writer: Hdeng Tsu
Yuen Qiu – Inspector Ho Wai-ma
Charlie Chin – Chin Chen
Jackie Chan – Mole Face Gang Leader
Chin Hu – Ho Mei-fong
Fung Yi – Inspector Fung
Helena Law – Taxi Dispatcher