10,000 Bullets   Exploring the world of Cinema from the Arthouse to the Grindhouse™

Black Cat (Hei mao) 
Written by: on July 11th, 2010

Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1991
Director: Stephen Shin
Writers: Lun Ah, Bo Shun Chan, Lam Tan Ping
Cast: Jade Leung, Simon Yam

DVD Released: May 2nd, 2009
Approximate Running Time: 92 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: IIb (Hong Kong)
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo Cantonese, Dolby Digital Stereo Mandarin
Subtitles: English, Chinese
DVD Release: Joy Sales
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC (Hong Kong)
Retail Price: $5.13 ($40 HK)

Synopsis: A woman who kills a cop dies in an escape attempt. Actually she is absorbed by a secret enforcement agency as an assassin.

This is a remake of La Femme Nikita. There are themes and situations that are copped directly. Mostly, though, Black Cat reworks the theme and, depending upon your tastes, produces a much superior product. La Femme Nikita was the story of a sociopath forcibly conditioned to accept authority. There is a lot of drama in the training facility regarding her defiance and later concerning her difficulties with romance. Black Cat cuts this out by way of a chip implanted in her brain, called the ‘Black Cat’, which gives her extreme migraines if she doesn’t get her ‘medicine’. The romance is expedited by the coincidence that they both play harmonica.

Starting with the incident that gets her in trouble, there are vast differences. Outside scenes shot in a blue tint, the situation at a truck stop escalates into uber violence that would make Tarantino blush. Also, she shoots the cop accidentally rather than on purpose, and it is a sexual assault that triggers the situation, rather than a raid on a pharmacy by punks.

The sex and nudity is ramped up quite a bit, and though Jade Leung is frequently nude, she is never presented in frontal toplessness. Her performance is excellent, and her interaction with her trainer played by Simon Yam is quite effective. The romantic angle between these two characters present in La Femme Nikita is virtually eliminated here.

The DVD:

There is significant print damage in the first few seconds, probably a result of the heavy wash used to create the blue tinting in the opening segments. Otherwise, this is a very good anamorphic widescreen with Cantonese and Mandarin soundtracks and English subtitles. The majority of the film is in English, the removable subtitles cover the entire film, not just the Canonese parts. The original anamorphic trailer is nice, but the color stills gallery is presented in skewed dimensions which distorts the images rendering them useless.

Black Cat takes the sociopathic drama La Femme Nikita, trims away the societal introspection, and packs it to the brim with action, violence, and sex. La Femme Nikita is thought provoking while Black Cat is a rush of adrenaline. The choice is yours.

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