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License to Steal
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by Jay Seaver

"Man, don't show me a chainsaw unless you intend to use it."
3 stars

I'd been kind of let down with the November/December editions of the Weekly Wednesday Ass-Kicking. There was gore, and nakedness, and camp, but the most important element - people punching and kicking at each other with brilliant choreography - seemed to be missing. And without the punching and kicking, what's the point? Fortunately, License To Steal delivers the goods, most of the time.

Sammo Hung is listed as a producer and was probably involved in the fight choreography (the star, Joyce Godenzi, later became his wife). And fights can break out at the drop of a hat. The main plot, such as it is, features Hung (Godenzi) in a fierce rivalry with her foster sister Ngan (Agnes Aurelio) - they'd both been part of a band of theives, but Ngan had betrayed her to take control of the gang. They'll fight. They're being pursued by the police, and the senior policeman has a crazy nephew who thinks he's some sort of mythical Swordsman (Yeun Biao). And since the main characters are thieves, there's guards and gang members (including Billy Chow). The plot makes almost no sense whatsoever, but you can hang six or seven fights off it.

The movie also has a charming sense of absurdity. "No. 1" and his partner stake out Hung and her other sister, but do it from a brightly colored camp tent, complete with fire. And as Hung's gang prepares for the BIG HEIST of the "Napoleon Mask" from a moving truck, they do so by (1) moving a container truck into place, (2) unsheathing a chainsaw, (3) preparing a suitcase full of dynamite, complete with an analog clock face, and (4) putting on gas-masks. I was deeply disappointed not to see what the actual plan was, because it must have been a doozy. The ensuing big fight in an uncompleted building with all sorts of pipes lying around (construction sites in Hong Kong have a lot of pipes lying around, if kung fu movies are to be believed) mostly made up for it, but, man, don't show me a chainsaw unless you intend to use it.

But, when you get right down to it, there's punching and kicking - and isn't that why we see these movies?

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=10030&reviewer=371
originally posted: 06/20/04 12:04:54
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USA
  02-Apr-1990

UK
  N/A

Australia
  02-Nov-1990


Directed by
  Billy Chan

Written by
  Billy Chan

Cast
  Joyce Godenzi
  Biao Yuen
  Richard Ng
  Sing Ngai
  Agnes Aurelio
  Alvina Kong



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