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  Ming Ming Millennial Martial Arts Princess
Year: 2007
Director: Susie Au
Stars: Zhou Xun, Daniel Wu, Tony Yang, Tender Huang Teng-De, Kristy Yeung, Ricky Chan Bo-Yuan, Jeff Chang, Shin Wong Hin, Lin Shen, Murphy Zheng Peng-Fei, Tang Xiao-Yi, Cao Yong-Jie, Ho Shan
Genre: Comedy, Thriller, Martial Arts, Romance, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: 21st century martial arts princess Ming Ming (Cantopop superstar Zhou Xun) falls in love with a handsome, young fighter named D (Daniel Wu) and steals five million dollars from triad boss Brother Cat (Jeff Chang) to fulfil his dream of running away to Harbin. She also steals a mysterious sealed box that Cat is anxious remains unopened. When Ming Ming passes the money to her hunky, but dim accomplice Ah Tun (Tony Yang), he mistakenly grabs the hand of Nana (also Zhou Xun), our heroine’s identical double.

Orange-haired Nana, it turns out, is also in love with D and following his cryptic phone message, she flees with Tun to Shanghai in search of her ex-boyfriend. Using Nana to draw the triads away, Ming Ming also becomes a secret guardian angel, protecting the couple from hit-man Mousey (Ricky Chan Bo-Yuan) as they fall in love amidst the city of lights. Here, Ming Ming discovers the secret of the box and the reason why D wants to go to Harbin.

In her feature film debut, acclaimed Cantopop video director Susie Au assembles a unique cinematic collage that draws upon anime, the French New Wave and Wong Kar Wai movies. The spirits of Jules et Jim (1961), FLCL (2000) and Chungking Express (1995) are detectable amidst the dazzling, avant-garde style, but the heart of the film is an almost classical wu xia (“swordplay”) story. Indeed, Susie Au herself characterises this as “a modern film about wu xia morality”, with familiar elements like star-crossed lovers, brooding kung fu heroes, philosophical angst and a visually driven narrative. Anyone who struggles with House of Flying Daggers (2004) will find this an alienating experience, but those in the know will appreciate Au’s finger-on-the-pulse attempt to integrate virtually every form of Asian pop culture into traditional wu xia themes like memory, alienation, and unattainable romance. The plot even springs a sex-change surprise entirely in keeping with genre classics like Clans of Intrigue (1977) and Swordsman 2: Invincible Asia (1992).

An engaging cast inhabit likeable characters, while gorgeous, award-winning Zhou Xun delivers two, charismatic performances as ice-cool, black-clad Ming Ming and sassy, punk-spirited Nana. It would have been all to obvious to make Nana a weak and drippy counterpart, but the script avoids this pitfall and makes her romance with nice guy Ah Tu that more endearing. Zhou Xun also shines in numerous zero gravity fight sequences, in which Ming Ming makes lethal use of her beaded scarf, and performs the seriously catchy theme tune, composed by celebrated pop producer Wong Yiu Ming. His exhilarating soundtrack - comprised of trance, electro-pop, rap, and traditional Chinese instruments - provides the perfect accompaniment to Susie Au’s roster of still photographs, digital video, cel and stop-frame animation and ingenious editing.
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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