Review for She Shoots Straight
You can go in two directions with a new genre obsession, fan or fad, but they both start in the same way. You get something new, something you’ve never seen before, but something that tantalises with its originality and they way it fills a need that you didn’t even know you had. You want more, and you’ll look for other entries in that genre, and start consuming them with abandon, taking in all you can find. If you’re going to be a fan, you’ll find something new to enjoy in each example of the genre, and your passion for it will just grow. With a fad, you’ll see the similarities between the films, for we are talking about films in this instance, and not the differences; and each new experience will be enjoyed just that little bit less. It will be a case of diminishing returns, and your obsession will start to fade into inertia...
I’ve been surfing the wave of diminishing returns for some time now when it comes to the Hong Kong ‘girls with guns’ genre niche. I had the ‘best thing since sliced bread’ reaction to Yes, Madam! my first taste of the genre, starring Michelle Yeoh in the first of the In the Line of Duty films, but the three sequels that Eureka also released, entertaining though they were, seemed to be variations on a theme. That sense continued in the other such films that I saw, Righting Wrongs, On the Run, Lady Reporter, although Magnificent Warriors was an exception to that. I’m definitely on the fad path with this genre, and now She Shoots Straight turns up for review.
Nepotism isn’t always a bad thing, certainly not for the Wong family, who after their late father, all went into the police service, brother Bo and all four of his sisters. But marrying into such a family isn’t something to take lightly, especially for Mina, also a cop, and who is perfectly matched with Bo. But for his sisters, especially Ling, no woman is good enough for their beloved brother, especially not Mina, who has the temerity to outrank the sisters.
Their domestic angst is about to be shattered by reality. An escape from a Vietnamese refugee centre heralds a crime spree in Hong Kong. Or it would if they didn’t have the intelligence to stake out the Night Club the gang plan to target. The criminals are thwarted, but the survivors escape, with the leader swearing revenge against the family Wong. Mina and her sisters in law will have to bury the hatchet and work together if they want to defeat the villain.
She Shoots Straight gets a 1.85:1 widescreen 1080p transfer, given the 2k restoration treatment. You have the choice between PCM 2.0 Mono Cantonese and DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround English dub, with optional English subtitles. It’s an excellent transfer, clear and sharp with good colours and strong detail. The image comes across with no visible compression, aliasing or the like, and there is no sign of print damage or age. Some creative choices might raise an eyebrow, like the low frame rate slow motion action, but the transfer itself is impeccable. The audio too is fine, clear and well balanced, bringing the action and music across well, while keeping the dialogue clear. The subtitles are accurately timed and free of typos.
The disc presents its content and options with a static menu screen, which is where you’ll find the following extras.
Audio commentary with Frank Djeng
Audio commentary with Mike Leeder & Arne Venema
Filmmaker Valerie Soe on She Shoots Straight (7:19)
Shooting Locations (12:19)
English Opening/Closing Credits (2:24)
Original Theatrical Trailer (2:38)
The first run release of She Shoots Straight will come with o-card packaging and a 20-page booklet on the film with writing from James Oliver.
Diminishing returns indeed! I was put in mind of when I first discovered Martial Arts movies as a teenager; when I would watch them without discrimination, and wound up blanking on the narratives and concentrating on the action sequences instead. A whole lot of my VHS collection actually had worn out fight sequences, and pristine everything else. Watching She Shoots Straight, I once again was blanking on the rest of the film and perking up for the stunts and the gun-fu. Actually, worse than that, I was rolling my eyes at the rest of the film, unable to take it seriously, or even really enjoy it.
It is your standard hero vs. villain dynamic, with the boss of the Vietnamese gang played with his usual charismatic style by Yuen Wah (coincidentally the name of his character too), up against the police as he goes on a crime rampage, looking to fund his terrorist ideals. Inspector Mina and her officers are guarding a visiting princess at a fashion show when they try to kidnap her, and they wind up thwarting the crime. And when Mina’s squad foil an attempted robbery by the gang at a night club, it becomes personal, and Wah swears revenge against her family. It becomes a small war of attrition all the way to the end credits.
There’s plenty of martial arts, gunplay, and stunts to appreciate, and that’s my inner teenager catered for. But against this is the story of the Wong family, and the newest member by marriage. Bo and Mina are in love, but they’re hampered by a gaggle of jealous and vindictive sisters, and given Mina’s mixed parentage, a fair bit bigoted as well. And this interpersonal drama is written with the depth and emotional wit of school playground dynamics. You have to remind yourself that this film is over 30 years old, made in a different social climate, and back then, it was a rare movie starring and/or produced by Sammo Hung, that didn’t have a little bit of jaw clenching misogyny.
So, if a wife doesn’t want to get pregnant, and insists on contraception, and then the husband goes and sabotages that prophylactic, that’s considered assault, right? She Shoots Straight finds a way to turn that into a ‘good thing’ for its story. Incidentally, while I was writing this review, I was watching an old episode of Top of the Tops on Youtube, and Rolf Harris came on to perform a cover of Stairway to Heaven. I had the same gut-churning reflex reaction.
Eureka Entertainment give this film their customary quality treatment when it comes to the transfer and the extra features. She Shoots Straight is also another Hong Kong actioner where you can really appreciate the action. Your mileage may vary when it comes to other aspects of the film, but for me the fad feels like it has worn out its welcome at this point. If there is another ‘Girls with Guns’ entry coming, I hope it’s from a different producer, and made with a different approach; hopefully something more akin to Magnificent Warriors rather than just another police procedural.
She Shoots Straight is available direct from Eureka Entertainment, Terracotta, and mainstream retailers.