ANGEL WARRIORS (2013) review

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A stunningly atrocious concoction from the brilliant mind who gave us Kung Fu Hip-hop, Angel Warriors is unfortunately less laugh-out-loud ridiculous than its plot synopsis might lead you to expect. Our heroes, as an ugly anime introduction makes it clear, are a group of five stunning women, all modern adventurers thirsting for new experiences : one is a company CEO (Yu Nan), one is an archeologist/polyglot, one is a wildlife protectionist, one is a dancer and a martial artist, and the last one is, we kid you not, the owner of an online shop for outdoors clothing. Real screenwriting gold right there. Their latest adventure is a trek inside the Kana Jungle, home of the Tiger tribe. Their guide is Sen (Shi Yanneng) a member of that tribe who doubles as the pidgin-English narrator of the film, bragging about how he’s going to marry soon and bringing the audience up to date anytime it is unclear what’s happening onscreen (that is, quite often). Also joining the girls are Wang (Collin Chou), a military friend of Yu Nan’s late brother, and a National Geographic team headed by Dennis (Andy On). But soon it transpires that it is not actually a National Geographic team, but a mercenary outfit on a search for the Tiger tribe’s precious jewels. All hell breaks loose as the girls and the mercenaries part ways and are both hunted down by the tribe.

The film has a fairly simple outline and progression : it begins as some kind of nightmarish screech-fest as the girls are shown partying in Pattaya Beach, and starting their trek. Then for some mild tension in the jungle as true motives slowly unravel and we get a few shots of snakes and tigers. And finally, a half-hour barrage of deadening fights and listless drama, the former edited out of any coherence or fluidity and shot in cheesy low angles and the latter calling to flashbacks of people screaming “noooooo!” in slow-motion. At least it does not get too boring, but still there’s a measure of heartache to seeing some of the talent this film undeservedly attracted. Among the girls only Yu Nan has presence and can act, the other four (yes, including the online seller of outdoors clothing) are completely interchangeable, and uniformly annoying. Yu herself, an actress worthy of MUCH better films, is simply dialed-down, though looking game for the silliness at hand. Next to the girls, Collin Chou is a dignified relief, though fitted for much of the film with a hilariously stupid wig. Then Andy On comes in and delights us with some choice alternation of Chinese and English, bringing to mind the esteemed work of Michael Wong in that bilingual field. And Shi Yanneng looks almost as if he was drugged silly before every one of his scenes. Which might be the only way to enjoy Angel Warriors.

Long Story Short : Unbelievably stupid and cheesy, Angel Warriors is barely held together by a few talented actors who deserve much better. *

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