Monday, December 28, 2009

They Call Her...Cleopatra Wong (1978)

They Call Her…Cleopatra Wong

Philippines/Singapore/Hong Kong 1977

Fullscreen, dubbed in English

aka Cleopatra Wong, Female Big Boss

Director “George Richardson”/Bobby A. Suarez Writers Bobby A. Suarez, Romeo N. Galang

Cast “Marrie Lee”/Doris Young (Cleopatra Wong), George Estregan, Dante Varona, Johnny Wilson, Kerry Chandler, “Chito”/Franco Guerrero (Ben, Cleo’s boyfriend), Alex Pecate, Philip Gamboa, Bobbie Greenwood, Joaquin Fajardo, Joe Cunanan

“She purrs like a kitten... makes love like a siren!” Outrageous pan-Asian actioner starring Singaporean beauty Marrie Lee as the high-kicking disco diva, weapons expert and secret agent Cleopatra Wong. While on holiday in Manila, Cleo uncovers a major currency counterfeit operation, and immediately her kindly but sleazy Interpol chief orders her on the trail. Clad in orange hotpants and white boots, shooting through thin air on a turbo bike and taking on thirty balding wrestlers at once, its little wonder fanboy Asian fetishist Quentin Tarantino cites Cleo as a major inspiration for his Kill Bill series.

In a classy display of Filipino ingenuity, producer/director Bobby A. Suarez milks his international locations for all his micro-budget allows: from a chop-sockfest above Hong Kong harbour and a riotous free-for-all on Singapore’s Sentosa Island to the film’s explosive finale, a thirty-minute undercover raid on a monastery with Cleo and co in nuns habits (and moustaches) tearing up the Philippines countryside in possibly the only entry in the "Nuns with Guns" subgenre.

Cleopatra Wong is a landmark film in Filipino cinema for a number of reasons - the first international hit from an all-local production as well as start of the hugely successful Cleo Wong series (Dynamite Johnson, Devil's Angels). Canny exploitation genius Suarez gleefully mixes equal parts black chick superhero Cleopatra Jones, the gadget-laden internationalism of James Bond films, and the still-popular antics of Bruce Lee. Never has Filipino cinema been so gloriously derivative, so cheesily Seventies, or so much goofy, jaw-on-the-floor fun. (Andrew Leavold)

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