The Heroic Trio
is a 1993 Hong Kong
action film directed by Johnny To, featuring an all star cast
including Michelle Yeoh
, Maggie Cheung
and the late Anita Mui as the titular trio.
This film is an example of Hong Kong Wuxia
, Wire Fu
, and Heroic Bloodshed
. The three main characters form a Power Trio
of Action Girls
. The Rule of Cool
helps to excuse some of the more over-the-top action sequences. The fight scenes are all highly choreographed whirling mayhem
filmed with sweeping tracking shots and plenty of ringing and swishing sound effects.Characters:
- Wonder Woman (no, not THAT one) or Tung - played by Anita Mui, is a mild-mannered domestic housewife by day and a super ninja-skilled Action Girl with a Cool Mask by night. Her weapons of choice are a sword and absurdly sharp throwing shurikens that can deflect and destroy bullets in mid-flight.
- Thief Catcher or Mercy or Chat, depending on who did the subtitles - played by Maggie Cheung, is the Plucky Comic Relief, a spunky wise-cracking biker girl with a fondness for shotguns and dynamite. Delightful outfit includes goggles, leather Badass Longcoat, and kneepads. Her main superpower seems to be always being Crazy-Prepared, as she never seems to run out of ammo or explosives. Practices Gun Fu.
- Invisible Girl (not THAT one, either) or Ching or San - played by Michelle Yeoh, is a brooding assassin who steals an Invisibility Cloak from her mad scientist boyfriend. Slave to the Evil Master, she carries out the grim task of kidnapping male babies for her master. Her weapon of choice is a chain whip, constructed of bullet-proof Variable-Length Chain.
- Evil Master - This guy's the Big Bad. Commands Invisible Girl to kidnap babies for his evil plan to find a successor. Turns babies into demon cannibal evil babies, when he's not killing them. Throws poison darts. See Weaksauce Weakness below.
- Kau - This guy's The Dragon. Fully grown version of one of Evil Master's demon babies. This guy's tough and, it seems, immune to bullets. Eats songbirds. Decapitates victims with an Impossibly Cool Weapon.
Other examples of tropes in this film:
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer - The Evil Master has quite a nice lair under the city streets.
- All Amazons Want Hercules - Averted with Invisible Girl and her somewhat nerdy boyfriend.
- Invoked with Wonder Woman's husband who is a Badass Normal cop that, in the first scene, jumps out of a window and intimidates a car-thief into putting handcuffs on himself.
- Anti-Hero - Thief Catcher is a Punch Clock Hero initially and is more than willing to kidnap a baby herself in order to lure out the real culprits.
- Anti-Villain - Invisible Girl until about two thirds of the way through.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished - All three main characters remain gorgeous for the most part, despite getting bloody and dirty.
- Lampshaded by Thief Catcher who, after escaping an explosion, turns and asks "Am I still pretty?". Wonder Woman brushes her off by saying "You look fine but I don't know what's wrong with you."
- Blood from the Mouth - When the Evil Master clutches Invisible Girl and Wonder Woman on the edge of the building, they cough a modest rivulet each.
- Blown Across the Room - Happens several times during the film after various punches, kicks, or explosions.
- Body Horror - The Evil Master's final form, and the fate of his victims.
- Brainwashed - Invisible Girl and all of the Evil Master's underlings. Invisible Girl got better at least.
- The Cape - Wonder Woman is a standard superheroine. She is the most moral of the three ladies and doesn't have to go through any heel turns. She even wears a cape.
- Car Fu - Well, Bike Fu, technically. Wonder Woman uses a flying, spinning motorcycle as a weapon against Kau.
- Catch a Falling Star - A number of babies are tossed around rather dramatically.
- The Cavalry - All three women have their moments. Sometimes solo. Sometimes in a pair.
- Co-Dragons - Kau and Invisible Girl start off as the two main enforcers for the Big Bad until she joins the side of the heroes.
- Cool Bike - Thief Catcher, of course.
- Creepy Children - The kidnapped kids are raised on human flesh.
- Deadly Nosebleed - Happens to the Invisible Girl's scientist boyfriend; clear indicator that this guy's research is slowly killing him.
- "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune - Anita Mui, a famous pop star at the time, does the theme and has a few songs on the soundtrack.
- Dramatic Unmask - Wonder Woman to Invisible Girl.
- Empathic Environment - Lightning and Dramatic Wind seems to follow characters feeling internal conflict.
- Enemy Civil War: A more personal example than most. While Invisible Girl was still employed by the Old Master, it seemed that she had a rivalry with Kau; to the point where when she enters the secret lair, he attacks her from behind. She ends up chopping off one of his fingers for it and continues on her way.
- Everything's Better with Spinning - Obviously the case with the flamboyant whirling Wuxia chop-socky, but also Thief Catcher can't seem to let off a single bullet without pirouetting. Also flying motorcycle.
- Extreme Omnivore - Kau not only eats humming birds but he also eats his own severed finger.
- Friend to All Living Things - Both Wonder Woman and Invisible Girl have birds land in their hands in different scenes and prove to be skilled equestrians. Wonder Woman also saves a kitten (yes, a kitten).
- Goggles Do Nothing - Subverted then played straight: Thief Catcher uses her goggles when battling mooks, yet leaves them on her brow when driving her motorcycle through explosions.
- Gratuitous English - Thief Catcher says "Good morning" to cops and later shouts "Happy New Year!" when attempting to blow up the Evil Master. Obviously, this is not in the dubbed versions.
- When Invisible Woman learns that her boyfriend is sick, he types "Don't cry" in English on his computer.
- Gun Fu - Thief Catcher vs. Mooks. She fires her guns in a similar way that the other girls sword fight.
- Heart Broken Badass - Invisible Girl has this with a side of Declaration of Protection and a glass of It's Not You, It's My Enemies. We get a little slice of Love Redeems as dessert.
- Heel-Face Turn - Invisible Woman goes form evil to good.
- Heroic Spirit - They all perservere through some pretty heavy stuff in order to do the right thing.
- Horse Back Heroism - Two of the ladies ride horses in slo-mo with Thief Catcher on her motorcycle.
- Infant Immortality - Averted pretty damn hard, obviously. We see a few kids die onscreen in what is otherwise, a pretty light-hearted movie.
- Let's You And Her Fight - All three women fight each other at least once before finally teaming up.
- Make Me Wanna Shout - The Evil Master screams and destroys Invisible Girl's chain weapon.
- Mood Whiplash - The movie can go from goofy, to heartwarming, to disturbing in the span of minutes.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero - Thief Catcher tries to lure the baby-knapper out in the open by using a baby as live bait. The baby ends up dying in a fight between the three ladies.
- No One Could Survive That - The Evil Master does this twice while surviving massive explosions.
- Kau also basically goes through this and stays gone until the sequel.
- Off with His Head! - Kau has a very convenient and hilariously implausible portable guillotine that he chucks at people to attain this effect.
- Oh, Crap - The Master has two of the women by the throat, only to realize a stick of dynamite had been shoved into his robes.
- Old Master - The Evil Master and the master who trained Wonder Woman and Invisible Girl.
- Only a Flesh Wound - Each member of the Heroic Trio is pummeled to the point where they're squirting blood out of their mouths. They seem just fine by the end of the movie.
- Out of the Inferno - During the climax, the girls blow up the Evil Master, but things don't go that easily for them when they see his skeleton rising from the flames for a second round.
- Paper-Thin Disguise - Wonder Woman's mask only covers her forehead, nose, and cheeks. Even then, it's perfectly scultped to her face to the point where people should recognize her if they see her in her civilian identity and then see her as Wonder Woman.
- Granted, her husband eventually finds out... through completely different means.
- Power Trio - The most obvious time this trope is invoked is the brief fight between Thief Catcher and Invisible Girl right before Wonder Woman breaks it up and straightens them out.
- Puppeteer Parasite - The Evil Master does this to Invisible Girl in the climax although it's a much more visible example than most. He never fullys takes control of her, however, due to Heroic Willpower.
- Redemption Equals Death - Invisible Girl dabbles with this, with a touch of Wangst.
- Rocket Ride - Thief Catcher straddles a steel drum, tosses a lit stick of dynamite into the open end, and rides it into combat.
- Runaway Train - Kau makes this happen. Once said train ends up in Kau's path, he tries Trainstopping. It doesn't work as well as planned.
- Separated at Birth - Actually, separated in early childhood in the case of Wonder Woman and Invisible Woman.
- Shout-Out - The final battle with the Big Bad has a rather obvious homage to the first Terminator movie.
- Stuffed In A Fridge - The Spear Counterpart. The male love interests in this movie get put through the grinder.
- Take My Hand - At least three times between Wonder Woman and Invisible Girl
- Terrible Trio: The Evil Master is the mastermind while Kau and Invisible Girl fill out the other two roles, at least for roughly half the movie. Kau and Invisible Girl even play up the Brains and Brawn dynamic.
- Tightrope Walking: One of the main heroines is introduced, running along powerlines, She even does the splits between two of them while throwing knives at a foe.
- Title Drop - The trio get their name in the last scene.
- Training from Hell - All the girls gets this. Since Invisible Girl and Thief Catcher got this from the Evil Master, it's an almost literal example.
- Unlucky Childhood Friend - After Invisible Girl left Wonder Woman as a child, she found the Evil Master and was trained alongside Thief Catcher. This time, Thief Catcher was the one who eventually escaped. Invisible Girl wasn't as lucky.
- Use Your Head - Thief Catcher does this multiple times in a row against the Evil Master to no avail.
- Weaksauce Weakness - Evil Master - kick him, shoot him, burn him, blow him up. Nothing works. Except... Love. Yep. Love. Makes his head explode.
- Would Hurt a Child - The Evil Master kills a baby rather randomly. We also get briefly treated to a serial killer who attempts to kill newborns (and fails, luckily enough).
- What Happened to the Mouse? - So Wonder Woman and Invisible Girl were trained by an Old Master that wanted them to "fight for justice" and all we see are two flashbacks with no actual mention of even his name.
- What the Hell, Hero? - See: Nice Job Breaking It, Hero. Both the cops and Wonder Woman give Thief Catcher this after the baby's death.
- Whip Sword - Wonder Woman has one that can go from a straight blade to a whip sword.
- Why Won't You Die? - Happens with both the Evil Master and Kau. Bad guys in this movie can survive quite a lot.
(aka Heroic Trio II
The sequel to Heroic Trio. Set Twenty Minutes into the Future
, Hong Kong has been ravaged by a nuclear explosion. Water is scare and to make matters worse, an Evil Genius
named Mr. Kim has taken control of the city's supply. He is using his grip on the city's water in order to control the leaders. The Heroic Trio reform in order to take him down.
The movie was released the same year as the Heroic Trio but doesn't seem to be as popular at least amongst American cult fans.
Contains examples of:
- After the End
- All Amazons Want Hercules - This time around, Chat gets a boyfriend. At first, he is a rival who goes after her targets. The guy can handle his own against her in a fist fight as well, leading to a romance.
- Batman Gambit - Mr. Kim manipulates a Colonel and a spiritual leader in a plot to become president.
- Battle Couple - Chat and her Love Interest Tak team up towards the end.
- Evil Inc.. - Mr. Kim's water company.
- Furo Scene - It takes place in Wonder Woman's house and not at a public bath, but the effect is the same. There is even a Skinship Grope or two involved.
- Held Gaze - When it comes time for Chat to fall in love with The Rival, she does this.
- Heroic Sacrifice - Loads:
- A caravan of rebels walk into a minefeild in order to distract the government from Chat and her group.
- Kau blows himself up along with several soliders in order for Ching to escape.
- Ching blows herself up in order to take out Mr. Kim, resulting in him losing an arm.
- A decoy of the president places himself in harm's way so that the real president could escape.
- Tak buys Chat and Wonder Woman's daughter some time in order to keep them from drowning and gets a broken leg. He ends up getting crushed by a sewer gate in the process
- Love Confession - Chat and Tak both demand one from the other.
- Mama Bear - Wonder Woman has a kid now. Don't mess with her.
- Refused The Call - Ching tries to get the group back together to take out Mr. Kim. It basically takes the length of an entire movie to get the three women back together.
- Retired Badass - Wonder Woman's got a kid nowadays and doesn't have much time for heroics... at first.
- Sissy Villain - Mr. Kim seems more appropriate as a Sailor Moon villain. He giggles a lot, has a heavy case of Ho Yay with his understudy, and wears a guady 1700's era long coat/mask combo.
- Stuffed In The Fridge - As with the last one, the love interests for these women get put through the ringer. It's almost a Cartwright Curse.
- Unexplained Recovery - Kau is back as an ally, is mute, and possibly deformed. There is little explanation why he has returned, although since he was so hard to kill in the last movie, it makes sense that he was Only Mostly Dead.
- What the Hell, Hero? - Chat is interested in getting paid more than helping out, at first. They take exception.
- Why Won't You Die? - Mr. Kim proves much harder to kill than expected, resulting in Chat saying a variation of this.