Sunday, August 07, 2005

[Screen Singapore] They Call Her... Cleopatra Wong

"She purrs like a kitten, makes love like a siren. This side of the Pacific, she's the meanest, deadliest, and sexiest secret agent"

That's the tagline for the movie, and it's Singapore's answer to the 70s female action powerhouses like Charlie's Angels. Cleopatra Wong (Doris Young aka Marrie Lee) is an international Interpol agent whose mission in this film is to crack an illegal counterfeiting group whose sole objective is to destabilize the currencies of ASEAN countries Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philppines.

Sounds diabolical, doesn't it? And it's a job only a cosmopolitan agent like Cleo Wong can handle, as she jet sets from Singapore to Hong Kong to the Philippines, hot on the trail of these crooks, manufacturing fake currencies in a convent. She even shows her leadership qualities in leading an all male group of agents on the attack of the crooks hideout against machine gun-totting fake nuns.

Shown as the "Female Big Boss", the montage at the beginning shows the abilities of Cleo Wong as top fighter and archer, whom even Robin Hood is no match for with her simultaneous firing of 3 arrows, blowing up a helicopter in the process (yes, they did blow up a helicopter, back in the 70s for this show!)

With older films, what catches the eye is usually the environment and the state of development of Singapore at that time. Here, we viewed the Paya Lebar International Airport, an old 70s Mercedes Benz, and the city skyline which has many buildings noticeably absent. We go from the mainland to Sentosa via cable car, following Cleo's footsteps, and come across vastly different and sparse beaches that we're unfamiliar with today. Local actor/DJ Brian Richmond also had a role in this film as Cleo's Singapore boss.

I overheard the people around me laugh and shake their heads on the impossibility of some scenes - like Cleo Wong single-handedly taking on 3 wrestlers (one of whom is local famous wrestler Mehar Singh), and leaping (yes, leaping without aid) over tall walls in escape. Or the scenes in which the raid on the hideout using guns resulted in prolonged and painful (no pun intended) death scenes. I suppose one must take into context the sign of the times, where kung-fu action was punctuated with exaggerated sound effects, and where the slightest punch will effect in maximum flying damage.

All in all, it's a fun film which one shouldn't miss. This was the film that was produced for an international audience, and one which resulted in catching the eye of Quentin Tarantino! Cleopatra Wong definitely lived up to her tagline.

Those interested in catching this film, there will be additional screenings at The Arts House on 22 Aug 05 Mon 2130hrs and 23 Aug 05 Tue 1900hrs.

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