I had heard about The Heroic Trio somewhere along the line, and a foreign martial arts film about three butt-kicking ladies sounded worth a look.
I wasn't anticipating a story about an evil sorcerer, using a young woman (played by Michelle Yeoh) with an invisibility cloak to abduct babies who, based on their date of birth, could potentially become emperors. One of them is going to be the Immortal Emperor, and the sorcerer intends to control that child, and thus, China (and probably eventually the world). Initially, there's only two heroes, or one (Shadow Fox, played by Anita Mui), and a mercenary (Mercy, played by Maggie Cheung). Shadow Fox is very serious about it, very graceful, maintaining a double life as the wife of a dedicated cop. Mercy is loud, kind of silly and immature, but she makes a definite impression. The motorcycle and the dynamite will do that. She also has a miraculous double-barreled shotgun which can fire 5, or even 6 times without needing to be reloaded (unless the plot demands it).
Mercy and Shadow Fox both have past history with the invisible kidnapper, but from different points in her life, and so each has a different sort of emotional connection with her. The story is a bit disjointed, one of those where it feels like they threw a bunch of stuff in there, but didn't necessarily spend enough time developing most of it. Maybe that was a consequence of the movie only have the dubbed version. If it had been in Chinese, and I'd just been using the subtitles, would it have worked better? There are certain scenes that just seem all over the place, where an action or statement might make sense on its own, but not when viewed with what came immediately before or after it. And then there are sequences that worked really well. There was a scene where Yeoh's character confronts Mercy, and appears ready to kill her, that one worked well. She asks Mercy if she has any things she'd like done after she's dead, and Mercy counters, what if she wins? What should she do for her? And Yeoh has a moment of hesitation, and then responds, and the answer, as well as the fact she gives it, says a lot about how she's progressed over the course of the film. But that makes sense, Yeoh's Invisible Woman had the most defined arc of the three, so that adds some weight to her scenes. Plus, some of the details of her character arc are the sort that seem to appeal to me (redemption, characters learning to be open with their feelings, stuff like that).
Having seen so many movies with awesome CGI by this point, some of the effects in the film do look dated, mostly stuff involving weapons flying through the air. But when it comes to the things the cast are able to do themselves, the jumping and fighting and such, that looks quite good, so I was satisfied. It's a film I'll have to watch again, now that I have a better idea what to expect, because I spent a lot of time questioning some of the ways things worked. Why the hospital looked like it was in a warehouse, or some sort of bunker. Was that a precaution to try and protect the babies, and if so, are there more hospitals like that? Because there aren't that many babies in there. Or the methane that wasn't in the hidden lair until it was. Or the wisdom or hurling explosives into a lair full of methane and babies (not to mention keeping babies there in the first place). There are certain things I think I'll be better able to accept on a second viewing.