Who’d Kick Whose Ass?
In the blue corner, out of the (then) colony of Hong Kong, we have The Heroic Trio, reigning three-babe tag-team champions, and queens of femme fatale cinema: Michelle Yeoh, Anita Mui and Maggie Cheung. In the red corner, weighing in at between one and twelve million dollars per movie, we have the challengers, Charlie’s Angels, employed by a guy they’ve never met: Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu. But which of these two teams of action heroines would win in a fight? It’s over to our commentator at ringside for the best of the brawlin’ broad action…
Anita Mui vs. Lucy Liu.
Anita Mui is sometimes known as The Madonna of Asia, but let’s not hold that against her, since they look totally different, and Mui can act. This pits two former Jackie Chan associates against each other, Mui from Drunken Master 2 and Liu from Shanghai Noon. Both are well-known for playing somewhat angst-ridden characters, but Liu gets the edge because of a somewhat disturbing fondness for playing dominatrixes, both in Payback and an odd sequence in CA where she does an S/M efficiency queen. Mui may have had the glorious multiple machine-gun moment in A Better Tomorrow III, but in a bare-knuckle bout, Liu would soon clean up. Winner: Lucy Liu.
Maggie Cheung vs. Cameron Diaz.
Here we have the permanently perky little misses, Cheung and Diaz. The latter won the biggest pay-day for CA (a reputed $12m), while Cheung’s recent career has tended to vanish up its own art-house, with fodder like Chinese Box and the execrably self-indulgent Irma Vep. However, with her back-catalog including such gems as Flying Dagger, that’s a lot of class for Diaz to handle. This is especially true, since her career has been made, largely in “zany” comedies like There’s Something About Mary, though her experiences there with hair-gel mean Cheung will be aiming to keep her at a distance. To her credit, she did look the most competent fighter in CA, and if there’s a rematch in the sequel, this one could go the other way. Winner: Maggie Cheung.
Michelle Yeoh vs. Drew Barrymore.
The luck of the random draw pits the two leaders against each other, in a battle which will decide the fate of the title. And it’s a tough one to call. Both bounced back from down-time in the middle of their careers: Yeoh was married to magnate Dickson Poon, while Barrymore could be found wedded to drugs and booze. There’s no doubt both are on the way up – Barrymore’s role as a CA producer has her power quotient upped, while Yeoh might just be looking at Oscar nominations for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, after stealing Tomorrow Never Dies. By the time this one was over, both contestants would be battered and bruised. But that’s something the utterly hardcore Yeoh is used to by now, so she gains the victory on points. Winner: Michelle Yeoh.
So, by a split decision, the title remains in the Far East, with The Heroic Trio holding onto the belt, despite the strongest challenge to come from the West since they took the title off the Thelma and Louise squad (Davis, Sarandon and Khouri) in a 1992 barbed-wire cage death match.