Yeoh plays Ming Ming, a young pilot and mercenary soldier who is quite gifted at fighting. Taking place around the second World War, Ming Ming seems to step in and help out people who are in danger, taking on large groups of people and beating them down, leaving without a scratch.
Inevitably she gets involved in a conflict taking place in a small village. The Japanese army have taken over a village and intend on producing a type of toxic gas that kills within 5 seconds, and they are using the village leader Youda to make it happen.
Eventually Youda makes a stand, and decides what is happening is wrong and all hell breaks loose as the village runs the Japanese soldiers out of the village. They then prepare the inevitable return of the soldiers, and Youda, Ming Ming and others work together to stop the Japanese from taking over.
A very sharp change of mood.
This movie beings very happy-go-lucky. Full of good humor, happy main characters and light hearted situations which lead to some crazy martial arts action.
A lot of characters are very comedic in nature, which of course leads to awkward situations and confrontations. Pretty standard for a late 80’s Hong Kong kung fu movie.
Ming Ming is always in a good mood, defeating her opponents and having a laugh doing it, as they try to cheat and bully people wherever she walks. But the movie takes a drastic change of mood. While rescuing Youda from the Japanese troops each member of her group is caught, and sentenced to execution. From there the movie becomes about Chinese pride, fighting back against the Japanese and fighting for what they believe in.
The Villagers unite, stand together and behind their leader Youda, but even the nature of the action changes. The ‘Michelle Yeoh kicks everyone’s ass’ action very quickly turns into a strategic battle of numbers as the Japanese try their best to take over the village.
The Action & Martial Arts
This has got to be some of the best work I’ve seen Michelle Yeoh produce – in terms of physical performance.
The fights are very fast, welled paced and offer a lot of variety on many levels. Michelle Yeoh utilizes a series of weapons like her whip to take apart her enemies, but even the drastic level changing movement she uses in her fights is fantastic. She really shows off some tremendous athletic and acrobatic ability as she seems to keep going and going and a crazy pace – impressive even for a movie which appears slightly sped up.
Just as impressive is the final battle. The villagers, armed with spears and primitive weapons in comparison to the Japanese (Samurai Swords, guns and grenades) prepare themselves quite intelligently for the invasion of the Japanese soldiers into their town.
By strategically placing certain traps and hidden fighters in areas throughout the village, they are able to lure, surround and out work the Japanese soldiers. As the Japanese enter, villagers appear out of roof tops, throwing rocks and spears or anything they can utilize. But what I really like was the imperfect nature of the battle.
Quite often the Japanese do some serious damage, and make things difficult for the villagers – which made the battle seem more natural as opposed to the landslide, onesided battle I was expecting.
Overall the action is sprinkled quite well throughout the movie, and makes for a very entertaining film. One of Michelle Yeoh’s best! Check it out if you love the crazy pace and action of 1980’s kung fu flicks!
On DVD –
Region 1 (US & Canada)
Magnificent Warriors on DVD
Region 2 (UK, Europe, etc)
Magnificent Warriors [DVD]