THE INSPECTOR WEARS SKIRTS (1988) review

Also known as Top Squad in some countries, The Inspector Wears Skirts was very successful when it came out in 1988, starting a franchise that would yield four films, the first two being produced by Jackie Chan. Three of the four episodes star Sibelle Hu as Madam Wu, an instructor for an elite squad comprised only of women, nicknamed the amazones, and who are supposed to take on missions men can’t, their advantage being based on the fact that women are not usually expected to be elite agents (at least at the time), which can prove useful in situations such as infiltrating a hostage situation. Therefore young women are selected to go to a boot camp under the hard supervision of Madam Wu. All this set up is of course little more than a pretext to get a dozen attractive actresses in a situation of competition and cohabitation, with the added sexual tension brought by the fact that an all-male squad is being trained in the same premises, under the direction of Stanley Fung.

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MILLIONAIRE’S EXPRESS (aka SHANGHAI EXPRESS) (1986) review

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Though Sammo Hung Kam-Bo as a director is better known for his films showcasing the mighty trio of Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao and himself, his filmography as a director/screenwriter/actor includes a gem of a film that is not nearly as famous and celebrated as it should be : Millionaire’s Express, a crazy hybrid of martial arts film, western and comedy, a combination later applied by Jackie Chan in Shanghai Noon and Shanghai Knights, but executed here with more ambition and creativity. In the film, Sammo plays Ching, a man who once brought great misfortune on his hometown by blowing up the dam that supplied it with water. After a few years of exile and run-ins with the law, he returns home with a plan to make things right : he will sabotage the nearby railway so that the “Millionaire’s Express”, a luxury train, will be stopped, and its wealthy passengers will have to go to the town and spend money there. That’s only the tip of the iceberg, as many subplots emerge, including the prostitutes Ching has brought along with him (including Rosamund Kwan), the head of security of the town (Eric Tsang) who’s also an arsonist and a bankrobber, Japanese swordsmen (including Yasuaki Kurata) who carry a mysterious map, a gang of outlaws who plan to rob the train (including Richard Norton and Cynthia Rothrock), a man who desperately tries to cheat on his wife (Richard Ng), and a fireman who has the responsibility of the security of the town thrust upon him (Yuen Biao). And I’m still omitting some for the sake of brevity.

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