Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Girl Called Tigress(1973)

(props to Pulp International 2nd photo!)
What's happening?! Today's post on Hai!Karate brings us an under-the-radar kung-fu movie featuring the sharp-kicking Polly Kuan, A Girl Called Tigress!! This film from 1973 comes to us courtesy of First Films. Also starring in this picture along with Polly is Japanese legend Yasuaki Kurata, and trusted role actors Kam Kong, Shen Mao and Blacky Ko.

The film starts off, as so many of these do, in a medium-sized town. Miss Shi(Polly) meanders through town as a traditional song plays in the background.(more on that in a bit.)She goes to a teahouse to eat some buns, and is accosted by two ruffians who want to sample her instead of the menu. Miss Shi takes them out rather quickly and sets out on the road. The two pop up again, this time with friends. Miss Shi takes them all out before being spirited away by a stranger(Kong). He takes her to his inn & gets her a room. She then has some tea brought to her and once she drinks it, she passes right out. At that moment, Chao Kun(Kurata) barges in with his minions and takes her to his villa. She's still asleep when Kun's wife comes downstairs to see what all the fuss is about. And surprise, surprise...she looks JUST LIKE Miss Shi. She implores Chao Kun to not harm her, & he then gets her back to the inn where she wakes up to see her friend. It turns out Miss Shi is looking for her lost sister. And she's now in a three-way struggle between Chao Kun, who's the local big boss and a rival and her new friend. And what of her sister?

A Girl Called Tigress is an okay film. And I stress okay for a couple of reasons. For one, Polly Kuan does her thing in this film. This was her entry into what's referred to as the 'basher' genre which focuses on just having fight scenes with a ton of kicks & punches with no regards for continuity. It was notable because prior to this, Polly was well known for her turns in a few wuxia films, one of which was the great director King Hu's 'Dragon Gate Inn'. She shows off great fighting chops here(stands to reason since she's an accredited black belt in taekwondo and was highly skilled in other arts). She moves effortlessly in her fight scenes and is rivaled only by Kurata in yet another of his villainous roles. Although I'm not quite sure what director Wong-Cheung Hong was going for with having Kurata just sprawl all over a chair in early scenes. Maybe that's where Rick Ross got it from. Kam Kong does okay here as the assisting hero. This was one of his earlier roles in Taiwanese and Hong Kong cinema, so there is a bit of newness to his look. The plot is jumbled up, a sacrifice to really focus on the fighting scenes. And those are good but not overwhelmingly so. Now there are a couple of flaws to knock here. For one, that song heard in the first opening scenes? It's a straight jack of the opening song from the last Chang Pei Pei film for Shaw Studios, The Shadow Whip. Also, if you listen carefully, you can hear Pink Floyd in a fight scene. First Films, like other studios, weren't shy about jacking for beats at all. Word to Ice Cube. Still, A Girl Called Tigress is a film to catch if only to appreciate how Polly Kuan further cemented her role as 'The Phoenix' in Hong Kong Cinema. Check it out on the web if you've got an hour to burn.


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