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Film / 21 Red List

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21 Red List, also known as 21 Red Treaty is a 1994 Taiwanese action film directed by Chuang Yan-Chien, with Alexander Lo Rei as the action choreographer and in a lead role.

1915 China, before the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War. A treaty to increase Japanese dominance of territories in the Chinese border is about to be signed, and the Chi siblings, a band of four thieves, assassins and mercenaries raised from birth to be professionals, are assigned to track the list down. But the leader of the four, Chi-wen (Alexander Lo) suspects something is amiss when their mission becomes compromised. Complication ensues when the second sibling, Chi-wu, fell for Kiki, a woman who is also a spy with an equally mysterious background.

21 Red List of Tropes:

  • Action Girl: Chi-ying, the sole female of the quartet, and the Dark Action Girl and The Mole Kiki.
  • Alliterative Family: The four main characters are named Chi-wen, Chi-wu, Chi-ying and Chi-jie. They are orphans unrelated by blood, adopted by their mentor Hu-zheng.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Chi-wen and Chi-ying, the last two survivors of the four protagonists against legions of katana-wielding Japanese agents in the final scene.
  • Big Bad: Hu-zheng, the adoptive father of the four main characters, who is also an Evil Mentor.
  • Dastardly Whiplash: Hu-zheng sports a really badass stache throughout the entire movie. One that screams "I'm totally the bad guy of this picture!" even before The Reveal late in the film.
  • Dead Man's Trigger Finger: Hu-zheng, upon having a katana shoved through his gut, collapses... while pulling the trigger and empty every round from his pistol in the process. He ends up unintentionally hitting a crate full of explosives...
  • Defeat by Modesty: In his first fight against the katana-wielding Japanese agents, Chi-wu managed to beat them off by grabbing one of their katanas and slicing off their belts, resulting in the agents losing their pants one at a time.
  • Designated Girl Fight: The final battle had a lengthy one-on-one smackdown between the two girls of the film, Chi-ying and Kiki, who is revealed to be an informant working for the enemy.
  • Downer Ending: The attempt to prevent the red list from falling into Japanese hands had gone to waste. Chi-wen and Chi-ying are forced to kill their adoptive father, only to end up dying and the list taken by Japanese soldiers storming the warehouse. Roll credits.
  • Fingore:
    • During the American Embassey infiltration scene, Chi-wu, while hiding under a bed, had his fingers stepped on by a passing guard, and had to keep uiet or risk giving his position away.
    • Hu-zheng when interrogating the American general removes his fingers as a form of intimidation.
  • Four Is Death: This being a Taiwanese film with four main characters, not one of them survive the credits.
  • Gorn: Used in plenty of the movie's fight scenes, with plenty of High-Pressure Blood from slashings and stabbings.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: More than one Japanese agent suffers this fate by katanas. Vertically.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Hu-zheng in the final battle gets impaled by Chi-ying's flung katana.
  • Leg Focus: Kiki during the bedroom scene. Barefoot, pantless, and wearing only a shirt.
  • MacGuffin Melee: The final battle when Chi-wen and Chi-ying fights Hu-zheng and Kiki for the titular scroll.
  • Made of Explodium: Basically the contents of the entire warehouse at the end of the film. When Hu-zheng, succumbing to his wounds, empties the contents of his pistols randomly as he falls, he ends up hitting a nearby crate filled with dynamites, leading to a chain reaction of explosion that blows the entire warehouse into he stratospher, taking with him Chi-wen, Chi-ying, and Kiki.
  • Off with His Head!: During his Last Stand, Chi-wu hacks off a katana-wielding Japanese soldier's head.
  • One-Man Army: Chi-wu during the fight against a whole legion of Japanese agents, which he holds off well enough, taking plenty of names and only losing when Kiki reveals herself to be an informan and turning on him.
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: Chi-ying's attempt to fight the hulking Giant Mook results in this.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Chi-wu, late in the film, in the hands of Kiki.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: At the end of the movie, Chi-wen, Kiki, and Hu zheng are all dead. Chi-ying, the only survivor of the battle, grabs the titular Red List, and is promptly shot dead by Japanese soldiers storming into the minitions warehouse, turning their entire battle to prevent the list from falling to the hands of the Japanese to be pointless.
  • Sibling Team: Chi-wen, Chi-wu, Chi-ying and Chi-jie works as a team in their infiltration missions. They aren't related by blood, being orphans raised from blood to be spies and assassins, but they're definitely close enough to each other to count.
  • Slashed Throat: This is how Kiki finished off Chi-wu after her betrayal.
  • Slippery Skid: In the opening theft, Chi-ying managed to take out a Giant Mook pursuing her and her siblings, by emptying the contents of a box of pearls right at his feet. Said mook falls over, and the quartet made their escape by stepping over that mook.
  • Spotting the Thread: Kiki claims to be taking a shower in Chi-wen's place, when she is actually searching his bedroom for the titular red list. Despite her being dressed in only a towel and the floors being wet, Chi-wen managed to see through her lie because he notes that there aren't any steam or vapour in the bathroom's mirrors.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: At the end of the film, the entire warehouse gets blown sky-high after Hu-zheng in his dying breath shoots up a crate of explosives. Resulting in Hu-zheng, Chi-wen, Chi-ying and Kiki Not Enough to Bury.
  • Tempting Fate: An ambassador in the opening assasination scene, upon being demanded by his would-be killers demanding for him to hand over a briefcase full of documents, simply replies, "Over my dead body!" He promptly gets shot dead immediately.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: In the final scene, this is how Chi-ying kills Hu-zheng, her adoptive father and mentor, via katana after witnessing Hu-zheng shoot Chi-wen.
  • Villainous Valour: Hu-zheng, in the final scene, despite having over a hundred Japanese soldiers backing him up, still chose to confront Chi-wen and Chi-ying all by himself, with only Kiki as his sole backup.
  • White Shirt of Death: On Chi-wu at the moment of his death. It gets plenty of red on it, both his blood and those from Japanese agents.