Ho Yuhang, a key filmmaker of the 2000s Malaysian New Wave, previously specialized in beautifully made and deliberately paced art films, ones that often dealt with alienated youth (like Rain Dogs and At the End of Daybreak). Ho’s latest, Mrs. K, represents a fairly radical break from these earlier films; it re-teams Ho with his Daybreak actress Kara Wai (a ‘70s and ‘80s Shaw Brothers action heroine), for what by all accounts functions as the swan song of her action career. Wai, the titular Mrs. K (or so we assume—but neither she nor any other characters are named), has settled into a quiet domesticity with her husband and daughter, one that’s broken by a number of figures from her past (one of which is played by a grizzled, neurotic Simon Yam) who bring the roosting chickens of her previous violent life to her door by kidnapping her daughter. A Jackie Brown-meets-Kill Bill-meets-Taken, set in the tropic environs of Malaysia, Mrs. K proves an enjoyable watch, with a droll wit that enlivens its approach to its action movie beats. It’s a film inspired as much by spaghetti westerns (especially the score) as by Hong Kong martial arts flicks. And if it sometimes loses the focus on its central heroine, by introducing a few too many additional characters and subplots, it still remains an affectionate salute to, and potent update of, its beloved genre forbears.
Published as part of New York Asian Film Festival 2017 | Dispatch 3.