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Film / Black Cat

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Starring Jade Leung as Catherine in the first movie, and Erica in the second. Yes, they are the same characters.

Black Cat is a 1991 Hong Kong Girls with Guns action movie and a loose remake of Nikita, but with action, violence, and Fanservice turned up to eleven. Starring Hong Kong B-movie regular Jade Leung in her onscreen debut, Leung's performance in the movie earns her the 1992 Best New Performer Award at the 11th Hong Kong Film Awards, subsequently launching her career in cinema.

Catherine (Leung) is a student in Vancouver, who after a nasty run-in with a trucker leads to her accidentally killing him, and later a police officer, Catherine ends up nearly losing her life from being shot by the police. Waking up in a top secret government facility, Catherine discovers that she is now declared dead by the public, and has a new identity: Black Cat, an elite assassin and killing machine. Under the tutelage of her ruthless handler Brian (Simon Yam), Catherine ends up going through a killing spree before suddenly falling in love with Allen, a Nice Guy who made her rediscover her true self before her brainwashing.


There is a sequel, Black Cat 2 released a year later, where Catherine - now inexplicably renamed Erica - is sent to Russia on another assignment, this time being paired up with CIA operative Robin (Robin Shou, Mortal Kombat: The Movie).

This film series provides examples of:

  • Accidental Murder: Catherine accidentally getting hold of the bar owner’s dropped pistol and shooting the trucker who’s trying to assault her in self-defense, which is what kicks off the rest of the film. Also, her second onscreen kill is a cop who isn’t trying to harm her, but is merely checking on her unconscious body – but given her nerves still being frazzled over the killing, Catherine ends up shooting the cop upon waking up.
  • Action Girl: Catherine. The sequel even gives her a fight scene in a foundry where she takes on a dozen thugs armed with axes and hammers.
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  • Animal Motifs: Cats, obviously. The assassin development project is called "Project Black Cat", the protagonist’s name is Catherine, her training aims to make her move silently and stealthily in and out of locations unnoticed like a cat, and she often performs her hits at night, sometimes dressed all in black. In the sequel she wears more black outfits than she did in the first.
  • Bathroom Break-Out: Subverted; Catherine attempts to escape from the authorities by begging to use the prison loo, but then an assassin after her shoots up the toilet, nearly killing her. She manages to ambush the assassin by smashing his head in with the toilet’s cover, killing him in the toilet cubicle before stealing his gun and running away.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The first movie ends with Catherine realizing she can never be together with Allen after all they have been through, because as an assassin she can never have any loved ones. She’s forced to shoot him, before leaving with Brian.
  • Boyish Short Hair: Catherine / Black Cat. She loses them in the sequel though.
  • Bulletproof Vest: When Catherine wakes up, grabs Brian’s pistol and shot Brian before running out of her cell, she ends up going through corridors, staircases, and other areas in the facility before ending up in a control room full of technicians, where she is surprised to see Brian waiting for her. He had a vest on him which saved his life.
    Brian: "Let this be your first lesson, as a government-trained killer. (shows Catherine his vest) If you want to kill someone, shoot the head!"
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Brian’s absent in the sequel, and is never explained by the movie in any way.
  • Cool Shades: Catherine sometimes wears sunglasses on her assassinations to remain inconspicuous.
  • Faking the Dead: The first movie ends with Catherine, in order to Leave No Witnesses, shooting Allen dead before leaving… except she didn’t. Because she left a bulletproof plate in Allen’s shirt, enough to render Allen out cold without killing him, in an Ironic Echo to her shooting Brian when they first meet in the facility.
  • Foreign Remake: A Hong Kong adaptation of Nikita.
  • Genre Shift: The first movie is a gritty thriller in the same vein as Nikita. The sequel on the other hand is a Buddy Picture.
  • Groin Attack: Catherine delivers a kick to the nuts of the trucker in one of her first scenes, when the trucker tries to hold her down while unzipping his pants.
  • The Handler: Brian, the director of the assassination project, responsible for bringing in the near-dead Catherine, resurrecting her as a killing machine, and assigning her on hit missions.
  • Happy Flashback: After Catherine is forced to shoot Allen, she tearfully leaves on a helicopter while thinking of the good times she had with Allen in their brief relationship together.
  • Hoist Hero over Head: In a rare male-to-female example, the brutish trucker at the start of the film holds Catherine over his head as she tries to fight him off, before throwing her onto a jukebox.
  • Lighter and Softer: Black Cat 2 has fewer action scenes, shootouts or gore, with more focus on slapstick comedy, as well as Catherine being given a Bumbling Sidekick.
  • Neural Implanting: Catherine gains her enhanced reflexes, sharpshooting skills, and heightened sense of hearing and response through a microchip implanted into her brain while she was still unconscious, called the "Black Cat" project.
    • In the sequel, she gets another implant right at the start of the movie, which enhances her reflexes and fighting moves even further, but at the cost of her losing her memory.
  • Nice Guy: Allen, the young man Catherine fell in love with, to the extent of him helping her remember how it feels to be human again and desiring to leave her life as an assassin behind.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Catherine, just Catherine. Like, running about in a sleeveless shirt and panties for four minutes after waking up? Having a Walking Swimsuit Scene during the pool training? Her sex scene with Allen? A bunch of Workout Fanservice moments in the secret government facility? Jumping into the waterfront after the banquet assassination scene, where she ends up being washed ashore on a beach, sans pants, barefoot, with her tight blouse clinging onto her skin? All of the above?
    • Downplayed in the sequel, which she didn’t show as much skin as the original.
  • Police Brutality: In addition to locking Catherine in a cell, the police officers also take delight in allowing the warden to beat her up repeatedly, and when she dares to show resistance, they have her handcuffed to a pillar and blast her with a firehose.
  • Professional Killer: Catherine becomes an expert in killing and fighting in the sequel, after the events of the first movie made her an expert assassin.
  • Sequel Goes Foreign: Black Cat 2 is set largely in Russia.
  • Sexy Soaked Shirt: A rare example that is played for Fan Disservice; Catherine’s torture scene in prison have her being cuffed to a pipe wearing only a shirt (sans pants or bra) and blasted by a water hose, and she is clearly suffering every second of her screen time.
  • Shooting Gallery: Catherine tests her enhanced accuracy in a shooting range in the training facility, and remembering what Brian said to her when she tried to shoot him, she shoots the head of a paper target on her first try.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: Catherine at the start of the sequel, from having a second microchip implanted into her brain.
  • Sudden Name Change: Black Cat 2 has Catherine renamed Erica, probably in order to protect her identity while having her undercover in Russia. This list still refers to her as Catherine though, to avoid confusion.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: In the sequel, Catherine have to work with fellow CIA assassin Robin, and neither of them are very happy about it.
  • That Man Is Dead: Catherine realize she is not Catherine anymore, when the newspaper clippings declare that she actually died in the subsequent arrest scene following her killing the trucker. Brian said her new alias is the assassin, Black Cat, which she reluctantly accepts.
  • Two-Person Pool Party: Catherine and Allen making out in Allen’s posh jacuzzi, completely nude. Although Catherine is only seen from her back.
  • Unkempt Beauty: Catherine during the jail scene, when she is being beaten up by a warden twice her size.
  • The Voiceless: In the sequel, due to having a second microchip installed into her brain, Catherine now barely speaks or shows emotion.
  • Waking Up Elsewhere: Catherine, after being shot at by the police during the breakout scene, and declared dead by the press right in the first act, later wakes up in the padded cell of a top-secret government facility. In a tight vest and panties.
  • What a Drag: When attempting to escape from mobsters shooting at her, Catherine ends up clinging to the bottom of Allen’s car with one hand, getting dragged on the road for a short distance as she fires at her pursuers using an Uzi on her other hand.
  • Wire Fu: The sequel have plenty of wirework allowing Catherine to leap and pounce about with ease.
  • Would Hit a Girl: The trucker in the first movie who doesn’t hesitate to beat the snot out of Catherine, and the male prison guards who helps the female warden beat up Catherine in the prison cell.