I always like to see a girl give the men a good kicking, and this film opens with as fine a kickin’ scene as I’ve seen for a while. Shot in black and white, the swirl of bodies resolves into Big Brother being ruthlessly slaughtered by Villain. Second-In-Command, released from the clutches of Hench-Villains, falls to his knees over rapidly cooling Big Brother and screams his torment to the skies. Enter our Heroine, Mantis (Shin), blades and legs flashing.
Mantis does a fine job as a woman in a man’s world. She’s got an unpredictable temper, a sharp suit, and a tendency to swear like a trooper and punch out anyone within range, all admirable qualities for a gang leader. These qualities don’t help much when she has to find a husband, though, in response to her dying sister’s last wish. Nor does the ‘style consultant’ provided by Second-In-Command: his girlfriend from a hostess bar, who wears five-inch heels and two-inch eyelashes. Our Mantis, kitted out by this authority, looks like a tart and moves like a homicidal commando in a dress.
One of my favourite scenes involves Second-In-Command’s friend from the boonies, who I’ll refer to as Scruffy Acolyte. Scruff tangles with a group of punks and gets repeatedly beaten, responding each time with “You’ll be finished when I’ve taken off all my clothes” and removing another item of attire. Another beating. Another item. By the time he’s down to boxers, most of the punks have fled, he’s attracted a large crowd of curious onlookers, and he’s chasing the confused punk through the streets. Persistence, rather than martial prowess, wins it for this boy.
Once Mantis has acquired the requisite husband (Park), she proves to be less than persistent in wifing. She’s a bit of a novice when it comes to love, or lust, or anything like that, but she could loosen up a bit. Giving your husband a roundhouse kick to the jaw every time he tries a bit of nuptial nookie is just a tad too inflexible. Or perhaps I’m old-fashioned.
Despite being a somewhat inexpert mix of romantic comedy and boot-to-the-groin gang action, the film moves along at a cracking pace, spinning a good story and wrapping up loose ends in a fine finale that makes you want to go out and kick something. But I suggest you don’t do it by taking off your kit, unless you think running naked through the streets will help your street cred.