She Shoots Straight Review

The She in She Shoots Straight’s title tells the story; this is one of those female-centric actioners from the Golden Harvest stable, in this case a vehicle for Mrs. Sammo Hung, Joyce Godenzi. It’s also a surprisingly brutal one, full of gratuitous violence albeit with a vaguely preposterous edge. There’s something macho about the proceedings, an attitude which suits Corey Yuen’s simple, but efficient direction. She Shoots Straight, when taken as a straightahead action movie, is as no-nonsense and unpretentious as we’d expect from the director who would later turn his hand to the first instalment in the Transporter franchise. And yet behind its macho veneer there’s another movie going on, one of dubious sexual politics and one which offers up plenty of guilty pleasures.

Remove the plot from She Shoots Straight – an ultimately inconsequential blend of Vietnamese villainy, a botched night club heist and melodramatic revenge – and we’re left with a film in possession of some intriguingly retrogressive attitudes to its female characters. Given that this is a Golden Harvest picture they’re more than able to match the men in the martial arts and stunt departments, of course. Furthermore, this all proves incredibly entertaining, not least because it’s all so over the top. And yet, presumably because there are so many men behind the camera (the director, the writers, the producers), Godenzi isn’t quite able to get on with things in quite the same manner as her male counterparts no doubt would. Indeed, after every fight scene it has decided that she should get more than a little emotional! Similarly the plot also finds the time to include a ridiculous piece of mutual loathing with her sister-in-law (cue requisite bitchiness) and plenty more crying as a result.

Which, rather perversely, makes for an incredibly pleasurable viewing experience. When we’re not being treated to another preposterous, body-strewn set piece we’re getting positively soaked in the kind of dramatic excesses which would shame a Bollywood remake of Steel Magnolias. Of course, this means that we’re not once able to take the film in the slightest bit seriously, but then to attempt to do so would be a mistake. The more we delve into She Shoots Straight the more objectionable it ultimately becomes, and as such a tongue-in-cheek really is essential. The thought processes which extend to (or rather are restricted by) the idea that women can only be tearful or sex objects lead the plotting into the most obscene of corners – the night club set piece in particular offers up little more than a heady blend of politically incorrect fantasy – whilst the concluding fight scene takes on an extremely distasteful air when we consider what has come become. Basically a girl-on-girl duel, you’re almost blinded by the misogyny as it revels in, and replays in loving slow motion, every punch in the face or the show-stopping kick to the breasts which closes the action. Says it all really.

The Disc

One of the latest releases from Hong Kong Legends, a company now in its post-Bey Logan period, She Shoots Straight is decidedly light compared to some of the label’s previous efforts. Presentation-wise we’re offered the film at a ratio of 1.78:1, anamorphically enhanced, and with a choice of English and original Cantonese soundtracks. The former comes in DD5.1 form, whilst the latter appears as both the intended DD2.0 and a 5.1 remix. Overall, the picture quality is fair, if unexceptional. The print isn’t in perfect condition and at times comes across as a little too bright. Furthermore, its age is undoubtedly showing; grain is apparent more often than not, and there are minor instances of damage to contend. That said, none of this amounts to anything which will distract the viewer from the film in hand, though be warned not to expect the very best. As for the soundtrack, the English understandably doesn’t sound all that great, though both Cantonese offerings are given a good showing, demonstrating little of the age or damage which blights the image. Moreover, the English subs are optional and seemingly free of unwitting typos and the like.

The extras, however, are somewhat scarce. A soundbite from Sammo Hung sums things up: rather than get a full interview, all we’re offered are a few seconds over a minute which, inevitably, amount to very little. Elsewhere, there’s a brief featurette on female martial stars, albeit one which speaks only to minor players, a series of clips from various other “battling babes” releases from Hong Kong Legends, a text bio for Godenzi and the expected collection of trailers and promos, both for She Shoots Straight and the usual array of other HKL titles.

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