Plot: What’s it about?
Catherine (Jade Leung) is a violent, careless individual, but when she is taken by the government, she finds herself in a new role. After she wakes up and discovers she is inside some strange place, she is pushed into an extensive training process. This includes intense endurance tests, various mental exercises, weapons training, and hand-to-hand combat sessions. In other words, this already dangerous woman is being given even more lethal potential, thanks to this massive training operation. But it is hoped she will now be under control, thanks to her newfound discipline and improved mental condition. Once she has completed her sessions, she is given the code name Black Cat and informed of her new profession, as a hired killer for the government. Of course, her natural disposition and intense training ensures she is very skilled at her tasks, but when he finds a true love, all is not well. She is forced to choose between allowing herself to fall in love, or obeying the orders given to her by the government.
We often see American remakes of popular foreign films, but in Hong Kong, remake films are turned out in high volumes, such as Black Cat. As you should know from the synopsis, Black Cat is the Hong Kong reworking of La Femme Nikita and while Point of No Return (the American remake) was lackluster, Black Cat more than delivers the goods. The storyline is well handled, there’s action to spare, and Jade Leung turns in a fantastic performance to drive the whole flick. Leung is a knockout in the role here, really pushing herself to the limits, including doing many of her own stunts. She is joined by Simon Yam, who also performs well and helps add depth to the cast. Black Cat starts off a little shaky, but quickly regroups and drives toward a fast finish, with lots of action and a brisk pace. The pace does slow at times, but not too much and while the ending is a little sudden, it seems to match up with the nature of the movie, I think. I highly recommend Black Cat to fans of action thrillers, although this disc is quite basic, providing minimal incentive to purchase.
Jade Leung is a powerhouse in Black Cat, from doing most of her own stunts to her commanding screen presence. I am never at a loss for praise as I watch her work here, which simply seems to dazzle me each time I view Black Cat. Leung made her screen debut in this movie also, which makes her stunning effort that much more impressive. She takes the action scenes to task and never flinches, hitting the mark time and again. I think she has the right stuff to make an excellent action performer, as evidenced by some later works of hers. But Leung can also hold her own in normal scenes also, which adds another dimension to her performance. You can also see Leung in such films as Black Cat 2, Velvet Gloves, Satin Steel, Killing Me Hardly, and The Peeing Tom, which is highly recommended. The cast also includes Simon Yam (Naked Killer, Hitman), Curtis Fraser, and Thomas Lam (Bloodsport, Love Recipe).
Video: How does it look?
Black Cat is presented in a 1.85:1 widescreen transfer, which is not enhanced for widescreen televisions. As is often the case with Hong Kong cinema, the materials have been poorly cared for and as such, the image is less than impressive. But on the usual standard for Hong Kong movies, Black Cat looks pretty good, I think. The print has some washed out portions, but looks pretty clean on the whole, all things considered. The colors and contrast aren’t as powerful as I would like, but given the circumstances involved, they’re stable and solid enough. I would love to have a restored and remastered edition of course, but until that happens, this release provides a more than acceptable visual treatment.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio here is pretty good, when compared to more potent American action movie mixes, this one lacks a little in the atmosphere department. But don’t think this is a bad mix by any means, as it handles the material well, it just needs a little more juice at times. The vocals are clean and never falter, while the music is well placed, but the sound effects fall a little short. You’ll hear some surround use and the overall experience is good, I just wish more effort were put into the atmosphere, like subtle touches at times. This is a very good track nonetheless, so I doubt anyone will be let down here. This disc contains Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in Cantonese & Mandarin, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, Japanese, Bahasa Malaysia, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese Traditional, and Chinese Simplified.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes some talent files, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.