Yim Wing Chun (Michelle Yeoh) is a female martial arts expert who lives with her aunt, Abacus Fong (Yuen King Tan), a tofu-seller with a knack for saying exactly the wrong thing at exactly the wrong moment. Wing Chun’s unwomanly ways are the despair of her father, and local men keep trying to put her in her place. She deals with one such unfortunate by telling him that if he can destroy her tray of tofu she will do as he says — this is a cue for one tray of tofu to go where no tofu has ever gone before. Suffice to say, the man retires defeated.
Wing Chun and her aunt take pity on a young beautiful widow called Charmy (Catherine Hung Yan) and take her in, only to run foul of a local band of bandits whose chief also wants the widow. Meanwhile Wing Chun’s fiance Leung Pok To (Donnie Yen) has come to meet her, still thinking of her as a little girl in pig-tails, little realising that she has been kicking butt all over town. Merry hi-jinks and love triangles ensue, with everyone falling for the wrong person. Although there is a concern for a while there that Wing Chun will nobly renounce her love, in the end the film’s predominantly light-hearted tone shines through.
Although a terrific martial arts movie, with plenty of jaw-dropping stunts, it is the focus on the strong female characters that makes this film stand out. The interaction between Aunt Fong, Charmy and Wing Chun form the core of the film — three women with three very different takes on men. They are supported by excellent minor roles in the honourable-but-earthy bandit chief and Wing Chun’s noble-but-gormless fiance — not to mention the nefarious pantie-stealer, Monkey and a cameo by Wing Chun’s martial arts teacher (Cheng Pei-Pei), who shows why monks don’t need nut-crackers.
Check it out.