The Heroic Trio
The Heroic Trio 1993
I’m continuing my journey through the superhero and comic book movies on Netflix that I have yet to review which are mostly foreign and kids films. This was one that I really knew nothing at all about aside from the fact that one of the stars was Michelle Yeoh, but it was highly recommended to me on Twitter when I was trying to decide what film to watch next so I gave it a go. I will say that it was a lot funnier than I expected, but at the same time it tends to hop around all over the place, narratively speaking. And even though I generally watch dubs over subtitles, the original Cantonese language option wasn’t available on Netflix. It’s one of those movies that feels like it has a lot of backstory to the characters, but we only get to see a snippet of what’s fully going on.
For the most part, this is an origin story. At least it is for the team of the Heroic Trio. Each of the three women have their own story and they end up coming together towards the climax. There’s Wonder Woman who is the wife of a hotshot young detective who doesn’t know that she is a superhero on the side. There’s Mercy which is short for Mercenary who is the most comedic of the three as she tends to get hired by the police on occasion and prefers to use guns and other lethal methods. And finally there’s the Invisible Woman who starts out working for the villain of the movie as she captures children who will be used in some ancient ritual to create the next emperor.
The actual genre of this film is a little hard to put my finger on. It definitely borrows quite a bit from superhero movies: Wonder Woman (though I don’t believe she’s ever actually called that in the movie, that’s what she’s credited as) wears a mask and comes in out of nowhere to fight crime wearing a mask, it takes place in the modern day, and all three of the women and the villains have superhuman abilities. But it also draws quite a bit from Wuxia style movies since most of their superhuman abilities come from mystical forces and martial arts training. There’s a bit of soap opera relationships thrown in the mix, as Invisible Woman is dating a scientist who has been developing the invisibility cloak that she has been using in secret. She is doing this under orders from the evil master and her orders are to kill him and steal the cloak once it has been perfected. Also Wonder Woman’s husband eventually finds out about her crimefighting secret identity, but is completely ok with it. And there are also flashbacks between two children who we eventually find out are Wonder Woman and Invisible Woman, though it’s not entirely clear until towards the end which was which. And if that wasn’t enough, Mercy also happened to work for the evil master at one point since she recognizes Invisible Woman as “Number 3” which is something that the evil master uses to name his minions.
What ends up being the most confusing is the fact that all of the characters are referred to by many different names. Wonder Woman’s civilian name is Tung, but she’s referred to by the villains as Silver Fox, and she’s never or possibly only once even referred to as Wonder Woman in the English dub. Mercy is short for Mercenary, and is also listed as Chat and Thief Catcher and also once worked for the evil master where she was referred to as a number. And Invisible Woman is also not ever referred to as Invisible Woman, her name is Ching, is referred to as Number 3, and also was friends with Wonder Woman when they were kids going through some intense training. The curious thing about the flashbacks is that it’s never entirely clear about anything. It’s eventually revealed to be Tung and Ching as children, but it’s unclear who is training them as Ching is the one who apparently failed but is also the one who still has some type of mentor. It’s just that her mentor happens to be evil.
What really helps tie the movie together are the action scenes as well as the overall humor. Most of it comes from the character of Mercy. She is the loose cannon of the group who’s generally in it for herself, but also has a code of ethics. She will kidnap a baby to try and make some cash for herself, but she doesn’t want to see any of the babies die. She also seems to be the least skilled of the three and has some great moments where things don’t entirely go her way. A great example is when the three of them finally come together, Wonder Woman and Invisible Woman leave on horses, but when Mercy tries to ride a horse she can’t get on the saddle and decides to continue riding her motorcycle instead. All of the fighting scenes are fun to watch as the three women show off their martial arts skills.
One of the weaker points of the movie are the special effects. There is plenty of wire work, and the wires aren’t always well hidden. But as far as the final moments of the evil master, it is pretty gruesome and impressive with hints of the Terminator’s exoskeleton moment, only instead of a metal skeleton, it’s a walking human skeleton with eyes and bloody carnage stuck to his body. But instead of being played for horror, it ends up being played for laughs to some extent as it wraps around Ching’s arms and legs and uses her to fight for him while it often cuts to the head as its eyes roll back in its head. It was generally a fun watch with some good fight scenes, good humor, but a ridiculous story that can be hard to follow. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.