Continuing the examination of IFD Films & Arts catalogue that included horror, action, thrillers and fantasy of the late 70s/early 80s coming out of Taiwan, for a breakdown of the basic history of IFD, please visit the series debut review of Wolfen Ninja in addition to visiting the other highlighted movies Deadly Darling, Fury In Red, Commando Fury and Breakout From Oppression. Deadly Silver Angels (also released as 5 Lady Venoms on US VHS) again carries original credits for some of the main players and has no editorial tampering represented by IFD's stable of Western players. No, Deadly Silver Angels is another case of being deemed having enough content on its own to be sold as is (who knows later on if IFD recycled the better footage of the film in combination with a Richard Harrison, Mike Abbott, Stuart Smith or Pierre Kirby. It would be savvy business tactics). It's certainly a generic gangster actioner though where the women comes in and saves it. Not in the way you think though, despite the stills of Elsa Yeung training her army of women in their bikinis.
After big boss Lau is killed, his grieving daughter Angel Lau (Elsa Yeung - Golden Queen's Commando, Challenge Of The Lady Ninja) swears to avenge her father by going after the rival boss Fung (Wang Hsieh). Having a respectful connection with one of Fung's right hand men Jimmy Lee (Eagle Lee) who was present when her father was assassinated, Angel goes to work recruiting an army of capable women including the Five Amazons gang...
Deadly Silver Angels (this may be the original English title as a matter of fact. EDIT: Since this review the staff at HKMDB has identified the movie's original title as being Virago. Dayabase link here) was released by IFD in 1983 where they were at a crossroads. Seemingly out of the game of distributing Korean made martial arts movie but not into the ninja-craze just yet, not only is the movie seemingly complete but even the credits seem genuine! I.e. there's a bunch of Chinese names in the main cast & crew listed rather than IFD's otherwise standard and hilarious practise of making up and Westernizing said listings (even the dubbing company is different!). And thank god for it being able to stand on its own because despite a shaky, way too generic start, Deadly Silver Angels delivers fast paced generic entertainment spiced up with female fury.
Starting out quite raunchy during the pre-credits sequence (pre-credits was something IFD stayed away from also because everything was structured to a T when it became a cut and paste movie factory just a few years later) with nude dancing with a touch of class and experimentation at a club, the connection this exploitation opening has to the rest of the movie is minimal to be kind. Well, Hong Kong is now set up as "a paradise of adventure and center of scum" which is the opening quote of the film. Not that watching Jimmy fight competently (Eagle Lee does get the majority of the good action choreography in the film) and rise through the ranks at Fung's is boring, it's clear when Elsa Yeung is introduced and goes on her own mission, director Cheung Chi-Chiu has confidence, flow and the most movie-energy to spare. You know of a switch about to happen if you've seen stills. That switch... is akin to Deadly Silver Angels delivering!
Going aggressive on us with visual style when the Five Amazons and their tattoos are introduced, the various training montages at a beach where the gorgeous women are training in their bikinis is of course akin to playing up this material for the male crowd but aside from a rape attempt, the movie focuses more on the female heroes and them being capable in the action department. Only thing missing would be creative training machines out of the period martial arts movie but here it's a physical workout for the ladies (with some camera work and angles for the male crowd again) that later results in knife, gun and bike-wielding violent ladies.
Mixing in the mentioned triad movie generic content, it's true though that director Cheung Chi-Chiu doesn't evoke any feelings of boredom. It's lean, Eagle Lee is inserted every now and again to raise the quality of action and the increased level of brutal violence adds to a very sellable time carrying the IFD brandname. Deadly Silver Angels is even highly iconic with Elsa Yeung at the top dishing out cool and confidence with the gorgeous, somewhat minimally clothed women by her side and yet... I see it, possibly in a naive way, as a fine example of capable women on film and thus, Taiwan cinema of this specific era has another product to be proud of.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson