A burly bald sea captain wakes up to find his scheming mistress, Ying Nian (Fanny Fan) has stolen half his treasure map. Notorious pirate, Gin Te Biu (Lo Wei) and his gang storm aboard in search of the map, amidst a fierce battle while Nian and boyfriend Kwok (Wang Hsia) slip away. Several years later, the pirates are aging playboys living it up in Hong Kong, when Gin Te Biu arrives to seek his long-lost sister, circus acrobat Mei Li (Tina Chin Fei). He is swiftly arrested and dies in prison, but mails his half of the map to Mei Li, who becomes a target for every cutthroat, gangster and sharp-shooting assassin with designs on the treasure. Fortunately, playboy-adventurer Tang the Owl (Tang Ching) takes an interest in helping Mei out.
This sexy, stylish Shaw Brothers yarn features a compelling plot with plenty of nifty twists and turns. Part James Bond caper, part pirate romp, part Hitchcockian thriller. Lo Wei combines the best off three disparate genres into one of his very best movies. Seemingly set in a spy movie world where almost every character owns a space-age apartment decked out with hidden traps and gizmos, the film hops from tropical islands to swanky nightclubs and extravagant costumes and décor straight out of an Arabian Nights fantasy. It even flirts with horror in a spookily-lit scene where Kwok scours a morgue and is startled by a walking corpse.
It’s Bond that provides the overriding influence. From the music stolen from You Only Live Twice (1967), to the suave, devil-may-care hero played by HK spy film star Tang Ching, who inhabits a high tech bachelor pad full of far-out gadgets. These include a robot girl whose lips dispense cigarettes, a sauna with built-in massage arms, and an automated closet for his Italian shoes. Ching is excellent as the super-cool hero, who only latches onto the adventure by chance and because he fancies Mei Li. And why wouldn’t he? Mei Li proves a feisty, resourceful heroine, good enough at martial arts to outfight any pirate. After a small role in Hong Kong Nocturne (1966), Tina Chin Fei became a regular in spy movies including Operation Lipstick (1966) and her most famous role, Temptress of A Thousand Faces (1968). She moved on to sex comedies in the seventies, with the title I’d most like to see being Jenny and Her Sexy Mother (1972), before rounding off her career as the host of her own TV show: The World of Tina Chin Fei.
Tang and Mei Li share a sprightly, appealing relationship with equal opportunities for both to show heroism. He saves her, she saves him and femme fatale fans should relish the scene where the men are incapacitated, while both girls catfight it out amidst Ying Nian’s amazing pink lair. Strong supporting turns come from the ever-slimy Chan Pei-shan, shifty Wang Hsia and perennial sex bomb Fanny Fan. A lacklustre climax slightly lets it down, but this still displays more vim and vigour than most Lo Wei movies.