Set in a chaotic, futuristic Hong Kong, where business and the military oppress the populace, this 1994 follow-up to The Heroic Trio is an exuberant and touching paean to female bonding. Maggie Cheung, Anita Mui, and Michelle Yeoh--cleverly cast to subvert audience expectations of their star personae--return in a convoluted plot that interweaves attempts on a political chieftain's life with the search for clean water being hoarded by a deformed madman. But directors Ching Siu-tung (A Chinese Ghost Story) and Johnnie To are less interested in the story or the fashionable Hong Kong concerns of ecological disaster and military takeover than in postapocalyptic spectacle; the film's noir-on-noir production design is heavily influenced by Blade Runner and the Mad Max series, and its delirious, overwrought sensibility owes much to John Woo. The hyperkinetic camera work seamlessly captures the acrobatic and ultraviolent sword-and-fist fights choreographed by Ching, and the chemistry among the three leads (each of whom gets to sing a signature song) is rare in Hong Kong's male-oriented cinema. While Mui tugs the heartstrings as the maternal Wonder Woman and Cheung sparkles as a feisty cynic, Yeoh steals the show, sporting the most lethal pair of legs around. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Friday, August 29, 8:00, and Saturday, August 30, 6:00, 312-443-3737. --Ted Shen
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.