Golden Queen's Commando (1982)

Directed by: Chu Yen-Ping
Written by: Fu Li
Producer: ?
Starring: Brigitte Lin, Sally Yeh, Sylvia Peng, Hilda Liu, Elsa Yeung, Hsu Pu-Liao & Teresa Tsui

Known under all manner of titles such as Amazon Commandos, Jackie Chan's Crime Force (with no trace of Jackie in the film) and its alternate title Seven Black Heroines, whatever shameless violation have been taken with the film since its release, Taiwan's b-movie "king" Chu Yen-Ping's desire to do a Dirty Dozen adventure/women in prison flick/spaghetti Western/James Bond actioner gets blended together into one crazy time warp of a movie. Creating a true original in the process ironically enough. Ed Wood-esque in his eye for logic, Chu's choices will borderline on genius or inept depending on the viewer you are but it's all in the goofy details and love for cinema.

Brigitte Lin equipped with a wooly hat and eye patch (gear she wears phenomenally well) leads a crack team of women, including Sally Yeh as an explosive expert and Elsa Yeung as an assassin with a bible (and make up that makes her appear like she's ready to go on stage to perform 80s pop music). Handpicked for a mission to infiltrate the secret lair of a warlord, the out of time group sets off and picks up additional male crew over the course of the journey in the form of comedic relief Hsu Pu-Liao. Much of it set to the score from My Name Is Nobody and featuring re-interpreted scenes, in whole, from said Sergio Leone production.

Despite the film apparently taking place in the 1940s, it's this 500% disregard for movie logic (Chinese prison guards in SS uniforms anyone?) that makes Golden Queen's Commando such a winner. You're very much on board to find out what madness Chu is planning, what words are going to come out of the English dubbing (provided by its international distributor IFD Films & Arts) and which composer him and his team are lifting atmospheric music from next. Ennio Morricone's scores in particular have always seemed to have an easy time fitting into Asian cinema such as this though so the aural choice is wise. Even if it was a free choice. It all comes off as being made with a desire to lift existing stretches of global action cinema and bring it maybe for the first time to a local audience. And Chu Yen-Ping has wisely picked his actresses, design and character traits and even though they all are specific to different decades in history, there's no reason to complain when introductions of Elsa Yeung and Teresa Tsui as the strong Amazon woman are so distinctive. Thankfully not sexualized but here to be action heroines in a colorful frame, Chu is good at arguing his case why they should all be here at once and not in different movies.

It's a dangerous venture to deal with introductions across an entire reel but thanks to the variety and scene stealing moments, disregard for tonal shifts (melodrama to goofy to deeply violent) Chu Yen-Ping has his picture on the move and is also not terribly interested in staying in the prison setting for long either. The simple story holds cooler adventures outside the walls like a forest with wild traps that gets the action team a chance to show off physical prowess, gunplay and the various tests in the grasp of Hsu Pu-Liao's character (the goofier of the two warlords of this picture) allows Chu to weave in recognizable beats from My Name Is Nobody such as the fishing and beer drinking scene as well as the taking out of The Wild Bunch by shooting dynamite planted in the ground (bags in the Leone production), leading to stuntmen taking falls off horses in slow motion. The latter is a fine re-do because the tension and buildup under the bed of 'The Ecstasy Of Gold' from The Good, The Bad & The Ugly soundtrack is rousing. Perhaps the film is pretty empty on character depth, leading to deaths of the main crew that doesn't hold resonance and the gunplay in the cave-finale is pretty basic, verging on stale as but again Golden Queen's Commando ultimately looks to be gleefully, and willingly built around tropes and bringing them home to Taiwan. Because these movies mean a whole (wild) bunch to its director. 

The above is what this reviewer will get out of the film, being only a fairly seasoned cinema fanatic but knowing Chu Yen-Ping's knack for copying scenes from other films beat for beat (see Island Of Fire), there's probably a full chest of additional treasures to be uncovered. You should allow yourself to have that kind of fun because Chu Yen-Ping is clearly honoring movies he loves. In an incredibly sincere way.

reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson