Notorious schlock producer Godfrey Ho scored a cult hit with Golden Queens Commando (1984), his mind-boggling women-in-prison/kung fu/spaghetti western/gothic horror/war movie. Naturally, he wasted no time in reuniting the cast for a sequel. The Sergio Leone overtones are even more pronounced in Pink Force Commando whose operatic opening scene has Chinese Nazis (?!) surround a desert shack demanding the inhabitants hand over a cache of stolen gold. Our eccentrically attired all-girl bandit gang return fire, between bouts of mah-jongg, led by Jackal (Brigitte Lin Ching-Hsia), ice cool in her Rambo headband. The girls eventually escape the spectacularly exploding shack aboard a weapons-laden jeep, only Jackal takes a fatal bullet from the Nazi commander (Alan Lau Tak-Hoi). But it’s all a ruse since they are actually lovers scheming to keep the gold for themselves.
Some years later we are reintroduced to Dynamite Susie (Cantopop star Sally Yeh, still best known for playing the blind girl in The Killer (1989), a sexy if incongruously cowgirl attired explosives expert. Her lethal way with the dynamite sticks wipes out an array of flying swordsmen, Shaolin monks and a nunchaku-twirling Bruce Lee imitator. Susie is shadowed by Black Cat (Elsa Yeung Wai-San), formerly Jackal’s right hand woman, who now dresses like a super-heroine in a spangly caped outfit, and enlists her aid to recover the loot. Also on the trail are Eighties disco dolly Angel (Sylvia Peng Xue Fen) and a curiously unnamed woman in denim short-shorts, who discover a town called Sin City has been built on the site where they buried the gold. Sure enough the pair who built and now run this town are the handsome commander and his girlfriend, Jackal.
Now super glam and living in a luxurious mansion, the repentant Jackal cuts off her own arm to say sorry. Everyone makes nice and joins forces with a plan to rob a group of wealthy diamond merchants about to pass through town. However, the fabled diamond they seek turns out to be a treasure map, while the so-called merchants are actually Chinese freedom fighters led by a mysterious woman in white (Teresa Tsui Jun-Jun), hoping to find a fortune to fund their cause. Too late the girls realise they’ve been duped by the commander, who promptly escapes with the map aided by an army of ninjas whose sexy female leader is infatuated with him. Betrayed and shot by the man she loved, Jackal is rescued by a wandering cowboy known only as “The Heartbroken Man” (Wong Goon-Hung). He builds her a bionic arm with a built-in cannon, which also comes with a handy drill-bit attachment. After training herself to be a crack shot, Jackal reunites her commando girls and rides out for revenge.
While no less loopy than its predecessor, Pink Force Commando at least attempts a more complex plot, while gutsy performances from the ensemble cast imbue the characters with greater psychological depth. Scenes where stoic females bond between trading bullets offer a wry parody of Sergio Leone, but are also often moving as when one captured, crucified character pleads for Jackal to shoot her. Production values are vast and downright impressive for a Godfrey Ho movie, while the madcap action sequences involving swordfights, shootouts and jaw-dropping motorcycle stunts, are carried off with great verve. However, the film contains an outrageous amount of footage recycled from Golden Queens Commando, including one scene reintroducing actress Hilda Liu Hao Yi as her drunken samurai girl character who has nothing whatsoever to do with the plot.
As before, the film is set in a movie buff world less cohesive than, say, Inglourious Basterds (2009), but more appealing in its rampant surrealism. For example, the Heartbroken Man is an obvious take-off on Lee Van Cleef’s spaghetti western persona, while one key supporting biker villain is styled after Marlon Brando in The Wild One (1953). The action is interwoven with homages paid to an array of classic films from Zulu (1964) to The Alamo (1960), One-Armed Boxer (1971), Seven Samurai (1954) and The Wild Bunch (1969), but there are plot twists and sequences that anticipate later cult items such as The Machine Girl (2008) and especially the less schlocky, if similarly muddled Korean western/war epic: The Good, The Bad, The Weird (2008). Chief villain Lee Byung-hun is even dressed similarly to Alan Lau Tak-Hoi’s dapper fascist. Lookout for the scene where he hosts some kind of international villains’ conference wherein Nazis, Mongolian warriors, terrorists and even white-hooded members of the Klu Klux Klan bid for the treasure map. Stephen So’s soundtrack ransacks Ennio Morricone’s entire back catalogue, as well as portions of Jerry Goldsmith’s score for Planet of the Apes (1968), and a surprising amount of Detroit house music.