Borrowing liberally from innumerable sources, this dueling hitwomen movie can't seem to tell a clever idea from a dumb one, which is part of its appeal--the movie just keeps pitching stuff wildly at its audience. Something's bound to stick.
Vietnamese refugee Eileen (Maria Jo) and Japanese sexpot Amy (Yoko Miyamoto) are Asia's two top female assassins, hired separately and without each other's knowledge to perform the same hit--the killing of a gang boss ordered by his nephew Albert Wong (Lawrence Ng). Afterwards, the women are
contracted to kill one another, in order to eliminate all witnesses.
Instead, they escape together from a gang of assassins also hired to wipe them out and bond at the mansion of dancing prostitute Sylvia (Sylvia Sanches). After the mansion is assaulted and Sylvia killed, Eileen's boss is assassinated by Amy's lover Kent (Ken Lo). When Amy catches up with him, he
shoots her. Eileen then kills him and brings the wounded Amy back to her apartment, where Eileen's brother Tom (Walter Mak) is waiting. Thought to be in France studying, he is actually a hitman too, and he kills Amy. Then the apartment is assaulted and brother and sister join together to kill
their assailants. Luckily, Eileen keeps a closet full of heavy artillery and a bazooka under the armoire. Finally, they attack Albert at the site of a drug deal, where Tom gives his life to save Eileen, and Albert just gives his life. Betty appears to arrest Eileen.
Aside from the stolen music (including the theme from HALLOWEEN), the primary lifts are from John Woo's THE KILLER (1989), including numerous scenes of antagonists aiming guns at one another, and Eileen saving a child caught in the crossfire of battle. There are also moments borrowed from Woo's A
BETTER TOMORROW (1986), most blatantly an aping of Chow Yun-Fat's famed one-man gang rubout in a restaurant--likewise shot in slow motion. Plebeian director Godfrey Ho attempts to inject style into his storytelling, filming a funeral from the point of view of the casket in slow motion. Or a
shootout in a supermarket causing panicked people to scatter in fear, including a woman running down the aisle still pushing her shopping cart--in slow motion: this latter a lovely moment of unintentional dadaism. Released to some markets as DEADLY CHINA DOLLS, the film includes a trenchant
analysis of exactly why one would become a hitman to begin with. Asked the reason he traded in his schoolbooks for a machine gun, Tom explains that the French treated him badly: burnt him with cigarettes; cut him. "Not only that, they hit me with sticks from behind. Do you know how painful that
Shot cheaply in the Philippines, LETHAL PANTHER is a panty-fetishist's dream come true, filled with low-angle shots of high-kicking women. The martial-arts sequences are certainly passable, with Sibelle Hu as a policewoman who pops up periodically just to kick some extra's butt and to lead Eileen
away in handcuffs at the end. (Graphic violence, extensive nudity, sexual situations, extreme profanity.)
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- Released: 1991
- Rating: NR
- Review: Borrowing liberally from innumerable sources, this dueling hitwomen movie can't seem to tell a clever idea from a dumb one, which is part of its appeal--the movie just keeps pitching stuff wildly at its audience. Something's bound to stick. Vietnamese ref… (more)