Although often referred to as a sequel thanks the same aka's, Matching Escort merely shares the Wuxia pian genre with the Pearl Cheung directed and starring vehicle Wolf Devil Woman from 1981 (Miracolous Flower, aka Wolf Devil Woman 3 was also a 1981 production yet got that alternate title). Credited to Si Ma-Peng, Pearl is the "Planning Director" and it just reeks of co-directing credit. Regardless, very much a Pearl vehicle and one showing progress in the ability to mix up the wild, frenetic, gory and silly while still working with a familiar template, it's encouraging progress we encounter here in Matching Escort (1*).
Watching her family get killed by Master Rogue, Pearl (Pearl Cheung) flees and goes into hiding with beggars but eventually finds a master living underground who teaches her kung-fu. Carrying the Jade Love Bird that Master Rogue is after, he is as a matter of fact merely a subordinate and it's a higher up who wants Pearl's powerful weapon...
There's been a sense of worry attached to Pearl's films ever since Dark Lady Of Kung Fu about the schizophrenic and annoying nature to the choices to light and frenetic at points (rather than violent and frenetic as per the genre it represents) but I'm happy to say even though the rapid fire mix is here and arguably can be criticized, the elements come together way better to the point where this is even easily recommended over Wolf Devil Woman. Setting up Pearl as a young child with chains and weights around her feet so that she can appear lightfooted in flight once out of them, the steady stream of fantasy action that follows very much fits the mold of a Pearl vehicle with powers portrayed on a low budget and jump cutting being the friend of the filmmakers to convey techniques. This frenetic and rapid fire editing is an enemy on paper but very alluring the way it's put to use here. Especially when placing Pearl in the midst of this, she's clearly more comfortable than ever, in control of her cinematic presence and is more than ever feeling like an icon here. Posing is an art and she is a very convincing heroine here if focusing on that only!
Moving fast through its beats, I did say Pearl sinking her teeth into lighter material is more bearable but it doesn't mean it's the sections that flow the best. Her encounter with the beggars is over quickly though and Sek Fung as the swordsman aiding Pearl has an assistant called Beanie is not as annoying as you'd expect. We still have a middle section that slows down but picks up when the interaction between Pearl and the master living underground finds some meaning for the narrative. Obviously the training of a student who wants revenge-template is comforting but within a colourful fantasy setting, flow is restored.
Especially steady is the mix Pearl's confidence as a performer, mentioned structure to the action and the gore from this point, leading to plenty of fun encounters scoring high even coherency-wise- A surprise considering how it's actually edited. Matching Escort shows Pearl and crew peaking and Miracolous Flower also showed visions coming together. Why it didn't go on from that point? Perhaps exhaustion, nothing more to say but the comfort-factor is, we finally see the pure signs of Pearl Cheung as iconic heroine and not just a wild performer in way too schizophrenic movies.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson
(1) IFD released the entire trilogy of Pearl's "Wolf Devil Woman" movies. The first became Wolfen Ninja, Matching Escort was re-titled to Venus The Ninja and Miracolous Flower to Phoenix The Ninja. Latter unfortunately was missing quite a number of gory moments. Whether this was how IFD received it or if they cut it themselves, we'll never know at this point. The IFD version actually has a scene exclusive to their edit so as a matter of fact it may run longer than the original version Ocean Shores released.