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女男爵 (2000)

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/18/2003

A group of high-class thieves led by the mysterious "Baroness" is set to launch a major heist in Mainland China, and Anthony Wong is hot on their trail. However, when he learns that one of the gang is an undercover cop from Hong Kong, the emphasis switches from pursuit to protection as he must try to save the undercover cop from the gang.

Baroness marks a switch from most of the recent HK movies that have come out lately like Gen-X Cops. There's not a cast of pretty young actors or huge special effects. It's more like the popular crime/action movies from the mid-1990's. However, Baroness fails to capture the passion and intensity of many of those films. The story has been done many times before, and Baroness adds nothing new to the mix, throwing in every cliché in the book -- including the seemingly mandatory romantic subplot.

Since the story is nothing new, Baroness's success would have to depend largely on the actors' performances. Sadly, none of the actors do a very good job. Even Anthony Wong, who won the Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actor two years ago and who is normally one of HK's top character actors, puts in a dismal performance. He looks like he's sleepwalking through the role and every time he talks, it sounds like he's got a mouthful of dumplings or something. I've read recent interviews with Wong that say how dismayed he is with the HK movie industry. If he really feels that way, he should just retire instead of subjecting audiences to mediocre performances like this one.

A couple of decent action sequences can't save this film from being stunningly average. Between films like A Man Called Hero and this one, no wonder why people are calling the HK action genre "dead." I wouldn't go that far, but too many more half-ass efforts like this will definitely be the proverbial nail in the coffin for Hong Kong action films.

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 05/24/2002
Summary: Listen to Ryans review!

As Ryan said in his review, this films has little more to offer than some good action, because the plot, the story and the acting is almost non-existant! This really is a bad movie, especially for Anthony Wong, he's usually very good but awful in this film.

Rating: 2/5

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: ryan
Date: 03/09/2000
Summary: Good example of how bad a movie can be

While we expected the BIG-Mandarin circuit to show Billy CHUNG's "Killer" for the second week, they suddenly switched to a movie called "Baroness." It is a movie directed and produced by Anthony LAU Wing. LAU has been in the film industry for years, and he has recently appeared in a television drama for ATV. What would this movie be like?

"Red Sun" and "Blue Moon" are two valuable jewels that are kept in Taiwan and the Philippines, respectively, and there is a myth that states that anyone who possesses both jewels can become the king of a country in the Middle East. A gang -- headed by Baroness and WONG Kam-or with Sunny, Ice, Milo, and Stallone -- has stolen "Blue Moon" in the Philippines, and they join a tourist trip to Shenzhen where an exhibition of "Red Sun" is being held. Police Captain PANG is assigned to cooperate with cops from the Philippines to catch Baroness and get back "Blue Moon," but these officials do not trust one another. Finally, "Red Sun" is stolen by Sunny. However, he doesn't hand it over to WONG Kam-or; he stores it in the ceiling of a hotel room. In fact, he is an undercover cop from Hong Kong. However, once his secret is discovered by the Baroness, he becomes a target. Sunny is saved by Grace WONG, the guide of the trip, but he is unaware of Grace's true identity . . .

"Baroness" seems to have been released suddenly. If you have seen the movie, you can tell the reason why -- the quality of the movie is so sub-standard that it's really unsuitable to be shown in theatres. One might wonder whether the movie was created merely for export purposes. From the beginning of the movie there are some irrelevant and obligatory shootings to please the market needs. Add a bunch of gunfights and the usual action, and it is obvious from the tone of the movie that this is not for us.

It is very strange to see that Anthony WONG is in the movie. He doesn't put out much of an effort here. In fact, the plot has nothing for him to do. Here he is required merely to run a bit in a street and then stay in an office for a few minutes. One would expect that as the captain his role would be to be smart or be the dummy. However, the audience gets no sense of a character whatsoever. Maybe the filmmakers expected his character to be supported by the annoying, dubbed voice that was used.

The image of Chinese cops in the movie is also something that makes me feel very uncomfortable. The approach of the Chinese cops dealing with crimes may be different from that of those in Hong Kong, but it's doubtful that this movie presents anything near realism. It is very surprising to hear the dialogue from Captain PANG who at one point says, "We have to understand the map of Shenzhen." Are these men new to the city or do they just have no knowledge of the area in which they serve?

Furthermore, the development of the case is too simplistic and stupid. There is no point in having police from the Philippines come to the Mainland when all they seem to do is sit in a hospital. In addition, the entire cast is too stereotypical. While Sunny is an undercover cop, the film fails to show the contradictory nature of his loyal character. We expect that he and Baroness are the leading characters in the movie, but there is neither conflict nor hate between them.

This movie would not be a good example for those hoping to join the industry as cinematographers. Most of the time the camera is not accurately set up. The most unforgivable error occurs during a party scene at which time the gang is stealing "Red Sun" -- one can see the setting of the camera on the big screen! This not only shows the poor cinematography but also the movie's inadequate editing, and it reflects the sorry state of the entire production.

In short, "Baroness" is a very good example of how bad a movie can be -- no plot and poor performances by the actors.

Written by Ryan Law, from Hong Kong Movie DataBase, on 6 March, 2000.