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The Heroic Trio Reviews

Two well-respected actresses (Anita Mui and Maggie Cheung) and a noted actress-stuntwoman (Michelle Yeoh) join with seasoned directors Johnny To (ALL ABOUT AH-LONG) and Ching Siu-tung (A CHINESE GHOST STORY) to produce a colorful urban fantasy about a trio of costumed superheroines who team up to defeat a supernatural villain dwelling below the city streets. The abduction of 18 babies in three months leaves the police stumped. Working on the case is Inspector Lau (Damian Lau) who is unaware that his wife Tung (Anita Mui) maintains a separate identity as the lightning-fast, super-powered Wonder Woman; she aids the local police in their efforts to stop the kidnappings. The culprit, however, has skills to match Tung's. San, the Invisible Woman (Michelle Yeoh), is a victim of circumstance. She commits her crimes only to ensure the safety of her scientist boyfriend (James Pak), whose current "robe of invisibility" project is coveted by San's boss, a mysterious being known as the Master (Ren Shiguan). The Master's credo is "China must have a king!" To this end, he has collected the abducted male children in his underground stronghold, hoping to find among them the one who will serve as king; the rest will become ruthless killers, like the Master's sidekick Kau (Anthony Wong). Into the fray enters Chat (Maggie Cheung), the Thief-Catcher. A professional gun-for-hire, Chat assures the chief of police (Paul Chun) that, for a price, she can retrieve his stolen baby boy. After an initial conflict, she unites with Wonder Woman to stop Kau from wreaking havoc in a busy train station. San finally joins them, too, when it becomes apparent that the Master will not spare her boyfriend now that the robe has been perfected. In the ensuing showdown, the seemingly indestructable Master is destroyed by "The Heroic Trio," as Lau dubs them. Tung and Lau resume their happy domesticity, with Lau now aware of his wife's other identity. With the villain's main goal to have a Chinese king, some reviewers have attempted to see the film's three heroines as metaphorical incarnations of the three Chinas: the mainland, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. This subtext may indeed have been intended by the filmmakers, but the picture's overriding focus on the kidnappings, and the clashes between the superwomen and the bad guys, removes the picture almost entirely from the realm of politics (the film's futuristic sequel EXECUTIONERS has a more direct agenda). As it stands, THE HEROIC TRIO lingers in one's memory for its more artificial aspects: the eye-catching costumes, the windblown urban atmosphere, the TERMINATOR-like skeleton of the Master in the final confrontation, and the kinetic camerawork so familiar from other top-notch Hong Kong action outings. The element that almost single-handedly keeps the proceedings aloft, though, is the playful interaction between the lead performers. Cheung and Wong gleefully make the most of their comic book roles, while Mui and Yeoh reinforce their characters with a dash of melodrama. (Violence.)