A gang of seven martial artists/bikers (whose more recognizable members are Kent Cheng and Xiong Xin Xin) working for the law who butt heads with a rogue agent working for an international crime organization. That’s about all I remember of the plot, and I saw the film last week. What I do remember : when this film was made, in 1994, director/choreographer Ching Siu-Tung’s action style was being overused in Hong Kong cinema, and overextended by its instigator ; Wonder Seven is a prime example of that. Never mind the lack of a discernible dramatic structure (outside of the fact it all ends in climactic overkill), the non-existent characterization that means that the titular “Wonder Seven” are even less subtly delineated than the Seven Dwarves, or even the puzzling attempts at humor : while these faults aren’t a fixture of Hong Kong cinema, they are at least recurring defects in the more commercial section of that industry, that can often be ignored through sheer sensory elation. But here Ching’s style has reached a point where it was not only feeling very redundant at the time, but still today out of the context of its release looks and feels tired and over-indulgent.
Fighters barely set foot when fighting, the laws of gravity are not just put on hold (a respectable convention) : they’re clobbered, killed and then Ching Siu Tung wears their skin as a coat. And the obviously fairly low budget means all that is achieved not through elaborate wire-work, but through quick cuts often amateurish in their ineffective succession. Bland heroes and maniacal villains come and go (hello, Elvis Tsui), and Wonder Seven only rarely escapes anonymous mediocrity : that’s whenever Michelle Yeoh is onscreen. Her flirting/love story with the criminally bland Li Ning (as one of the Wonder Seven) amounts to not much, and her fight scenes are not any less compromised than the rest, but at least she’s a sight to behold (the director of photography is clearly in love with her), and her natural class and charisma shine through. Of course they do.
Long Story Short : Inanely plotted and never salvaged by Ching Siu Tung’s action style at its most overwrought, Wonder Seven does have a stylishly-filmed Michelle Yeoh in its cast, and that’s it. *1/2