1991, NR, 91 min. Directed by Stephen Shin. Starring Jade Leung Zhang, Simon Yam Tat-Wah.
REVIEWED By Joey O'Bryan, Fri., Sept. 29, 1995
Model-turned-actress Jade Leung Zhang stars in this unofficial Hong Kong re-make of Luc Besson's arthouse smash La Femme Nikita, and while (surprise!) it lacks the subtlety of that movie, it is a sleeker, more efficient action picture, and, at the very least, avoids the banality of director John Badham's stateside version, Point of No Return. The plot here is virtually the same, blow-by-blow, as in Besson's movie. Despite the derivative nature of the plot, director Shin does have a few surprises up his sleeves, most notably in our heroine's first assassination assignment, which, in both other versions, took place in a crowded restaurant, whereas here the scene takes place at a wedding. To say any more would spoil the sequence. Simon Yam Tat-wah, best known for his roles in perverse “Level III” thrillers, is terrific as Leung's stern mentor; but Leung herself just doesn't have the style and grace of Anne Parillaud or the spunk of Bridget Fonda, and to make matters worse, she is often prone to overacting. To be fair, Leung is a fairly likable screen presence, but, unfortunately, she's no great actress. The stunts and action are pretty nicely staged, particularly in a scene involving a falling steel girder and a passing car, and, overall, I would say that Black Cat is a more evenly paced movie than the one which inspired it (which is not to say that it is a better movie overall, just more consistent in its pacing). Make no mistake: Black Cat is a minor thriller, with a couple of moments that call for some unintentional laughter, but it also has its own share of thrills and spills, and manages to add a few interesting twists to its source material. And, let's face it, that's more than John Badham tried to do. Black Cat was followed by an outrageous sequel, ridiculously subtitled The Assassination of President Yeltsin. I think you get the idea.