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  Mini-Skirt Gang Leggy lovelies on the lam
Year: 1974
Director: Lu Chi
Stars: Birte Tove, Chen Ping, Nancy Leung Laang-Si, Lee Fung-Laan, Chan Mei-Hua, To Siu-Ming, Ngaai Dik, Ling Hon, Lu Chi
Genre: Comedy, Sex, Thriller, Martial Arts, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Danish sex kitten Birte Tove was among a select few western actresses under contract at Hong Kong’s legendary Shaw Brothers studio. Having graced the likes of Sexy Girls of Denmark (1973) and Bamboo House of Dolls (1973), Tove reteamed with former matinee idol turned Shaw’s resident sex film specialist Lu Chi for Mini-Skirt Gang. She plays the lovely leader of a gang of leggy, young lady pickpockets (including Shaw sex starlets Chen Ping, Nancy Leung Laang-Si and Lee Fung-Laan) who seduce then steal wallets from an array of rich mooks. When some low-life bozos (To Siu-Ming and Ngaai Dik) try to muscle-in on their action, the girls kick their asses with killer kung fu skills! Feeling sorry for the luckless pair, the girls invite them to join their gang then later do the same with a child cat-burglar, after making off with his stolen loot. Surrounded by bikini babes, the boys are hopelessly horny but dissuaded from thoughts of hanky-panky by the threat of castration.

For the most part the episodic plot follows the girls as they seduce and swindle their way around Hong Kong’s sunny streets and seedy swingers bars, pausing now and then to ogle the comely cast in topless shower scenes or while they exercise in skimpy bikinis. Though most likely inspired by the Seventies run of Japanese girl gang sexploitation-action films, notably Sukeban: Girl Boss Guerilla (1972) and Stray Cat Rock: Female Boss (1970), the tone is removed from their sadistic excess and far more light and breezy. On the surface, Mini-Skirt Gang appears amoral yet Lu Chi stresses the camaraderie between lovable rogues and their adherence to their own, warped moral code. Not only do the girls happily embrace all kinds of downtrodden folk into the gang, they rescue an old man from a more violent knife-wielding thief and shelter a waif named Jiao-Jiao (Chan Mei-Hua) who has been targeted by sex traffickers. Later when Jiao-Jiao falls pregnant thanks to one of the goofy comic relief male sidekicks, Birte ensures the guilty party does the right thing and marries the girl.

The underlining message that girls on the streets need to survive by their wits or be exploited is further tempered by the fact not all of their schemes work out so well. A lengthy, simultaneously comic and suspenseful sequence has each girl attempting to fleece some sleazy businessmen, including Lu Chi himself, with mixed results. At one point they generously donate their profits to a struggling pregnant woman and her fretful mother who turn out to be a rival team of con artists. Shot in vibrant comic book colours with eye-catching art direction and funky Seventies fashions to the fore, the film showcases Lu Chi’s flair for avant-garde editing which juxtaposes mundane with events with near-subliminal racy imagery. Despite the meandering storyline and abundant toilet humour, Mini-Skirt Gang is an amiable affair with a spirited lead in Birte Tove heading a cast of engaging comic performers.

As with Sexy Girls of Denmark the film is wildly schizophrenic switching from sex farce to social satire and melodrama, and climaxing as a taut siege thriller as sex traffickers invade the gang’s hideout. A knockabout kung fu battle ensues wherein the film switches to sepia tone as Tove imagines herself as Chinese historical heroine Hua Mulan - yes, the one from the Disney animated feature besides numerous live action films - in full period costume! However, with Shaw Brothers more conservative than any Japanese film studio, the film ends on jokey yet moralistic note. Much like those classic James Cagney gangster films from the Thirties, the plot follows the criminals having a high old time throughout most of the movie before concluding with a lesson that crime does not pay.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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