Lady Reporter (1989) – Film Review
Director: Mang Hoi
Cast: Cynthia Rothrock, Ronny Yu, Elizabeth Lee
By Roger Crow
Cynthia Rothrock was the leading US female action star of the 1980s, though on her home turf, great vehicles were few and far between. However, Asian cinema couldn’t get enough of her, so she was hired for a string of action adventures such as Lady Reporter, aka The Blonde Fury.
(Trivia fans may note it was helmed by Mang Hoi, who played a kid in Bruce Lee’s iconic Enter the Dragon).
In a stilted scene of US-based exposition, two jobbing American thesps set the scene for what follows. Corruption in Hong Kong linked to a newspaper. Counterfeit money is being printed, and US officials want to crack the crime ring. It seems there’s only one woman who can go undercover to investigate.
“A humdrum script”
Before you know it, high-kicking FBI agent Cindy (Cynthia) rocks up in town, and has to put up with some sexist locals who can’t believe their eyes when she saves a baby from a fire. Why? Because they thought she was “a whore”. Yes, really. Oh, and naturally some of her clothes are ripped off as she enters the burning building, and then endures an up-skirt shot, because this was the eighties, and apparently that was acceptable. Even though it wasn’t.
Despite some terrible acting, a humdrum script, and dire dubbing, when the action scenes kick in, such as a great set piece on bamboo scaffolding, Cynthia and her colleagues almost make up for the shocking shortcomings. Almost.
So it’s a pretty terrible movie, despite the fact Rothrock is terrific. In one scene she literally runs up and across a corner wall, which is pretty gobsmacking, and a fight scene with bamboo canes is great, but naturally the impact sound effects are turned up to 11.
The finale involving a heroine tied between a truck cab and its trailer is pretty compelling, and owes a debt to the legendary truck chase in Raiders of the Lost Ark. (Look out for Roy Chiao, aka Lao Che, from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom among the supporting cast).
That epilogue is pure cheese, so best turn off after the truck scene.
“Something of a rarity”
Picture quality isn’t bad with the new 2K Blu-Ray release; the reds especially really pop. And as usual with these Eureka! offerings, there’s plenty of extras, including an interview with the star herself, and the obligatory commentary from genre expert Frank Djeng, who talks at 80-100mph as per.
Lady Reporter is something of a rarity as it had a westerner leading a Hong Kong action movie, and though not without some worthy moments, it’s a 45-minute story stretched out for twice the length. Watch it for the stunts and the informative commentary, but keep your expectations low for the script and acting.