REVIEW: Kickboxer’s Tears (1992)

kickboxertears

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1992, Jia’s Motion Picture Co. Ltd.

Director:
Sam Daat-Wai
Producer:
Lee Yuk-Hing
Writer:
Sam Daat-Wai
Cinematography:
Lau Hung-Chuen
Editing:
Cheng Keung

Cast:
Moon Lee (Li Feng)
Wilson Lam (Nam)
Mark Cheng (Rocky)
Gabriel Wong (Quy)
Jimmy Lee (Mr. Wang)
Yukari Oshima (Mrs. Wang)
Billy Chau (Billy Chow)
Ken Low (Li Lung)
Siu Tak-Foo (Billy’s Trainer)

A young woman seeks revenge for the death of her brother in this modern-day kickboxing film that highlights the talents of fighting furies Moon Lee and Yukari Oshima.

Li Feng returns home to find out her brother Lung is fighting in the ring against opponent Billy Chow. The match has been set up Mr. Wang, Chau’s manager. During the match, Lung seems to get the upper hand. Upset, Chow’s trainer resorts to putting linoleum on his gloves and blinds Lung throughout the course of the match. Mercilessly pummeled, Feng pleads with her brother to stop fighting. When Lung refuses, he ends up murdered in the ring by Chow, prompting Feng to take revenge.

Training with Lung’s cohorts Rocky and Quy, Feng decides to challenge Billy to an underground match with the approval of Wang. As she trains, Feng befriends a good-natured thief (Wilson Lam), who witnessed the cheating tactics of Chow and his trainer in the earlier match. When Feng finally faces Chow, she gets the upper hand. However, when Chow attempts to pull the same tactics he used against Lung, Feng is able to counter and ultimately cripple the champion. Wang is pleased as he has learned that his wife has had an affair with the champion. Now, Mrs. Wang wants revenge for her lover’s mauling against Feng.

This may seem like a run-of-the-mill action thriller from modern-day Hong Kong. However, let’s face it. Who doesn’t want to see Moon Lee and Yukari Oshima do what they do best on screen? Both ladies, who broke out with the now famous “girls with guns” subgenre of Hong Kong action cinema, strut their stuff here.

Moon Lee makes the most change in the film, going from what one could describe as a sweet-natured innocent woman to an agile powerful fighter all in the name of revenge. She still maintains some innocence in the film as she knows that Wilson Lam’s gold-hearted thief has a crush on her while Gabriel Wong’s Quy also has a romantic interest in her. However, it is clear she only has one thing on her mind and thus, she pretty much turns down both in the process.

Meanwhile, it may seem like the Japanese sensation Yukari Oshima is unfairly wasted. However, it is when she finally unloads her skills that it is worth the wait. She has a brief fistacuffs with Lee that leads into the challenge match between Lee and Billy Chau, and a brief scene where she tortures Mark Cheng (whom she was married to when the film was made) before her final rematch against Lee.

The late Jimmy Lee, a veteran kung fu actor who transitioned well into the modern day genre with memorable villain roles in films such as God of Gamblers amongst others, plays it slyly as Mr. Wang while Gabriel Wong’s Quy seems to be more of a welcome comic relief that complements the serious tone of the film. Wilson Lam does pretty well as the thief with a heart of gold who despite his advances towards Lee, still provides a worthy ally.

Siu Tak-Foo, who plays Billy Chow’s trainer, also served as the action director. The opening fight between Ken Lo and Billy Chau starts to look authentic and with good reason. Both men are actual Muay Thai champions. Even when the script calls for the blinding of Lo’s character, the fight still seems to have a more realistic effect. As for Moon Lee, she continues to impress in the action department. In addition to her major fight scenes against Chau and Oshima, she gets a nice fight scene mid-way through the film against a bunch of local thugs. Here, she not only uses her kickboxing skills, but adds a bit of her trademark acrobatic skills.

The big surprise is that just when you think the film ends with Lee against Oshima, it keeps going as a final showdown between Moon Lee, Lam, and Wong against Jimmy Lee, Siu, and other goons are set in an abandoned building. The action altogether is exciting to watch, which is more proof that Hong Kong action of the early 90’s is some of the best to see even in today’s new millennium.

Kickboxer’s Tears is truly one of Moon Lee’s best films outside of the Angel trilogy. She really shines here with combining her sweet natured looks with her fierce style of fighting. The action all around is exciting and Yukari Oshima may not have as much screen time as her counterpart, but she makes an impact when she unleashes her skills. Definitely a rental with a strong option to buy.

WFG RATING: B

DVD

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