Hong Kong actress Kara Wai Ying-hung and director Ho Yuhang reunite for the second time in this Malaysian-Hong Kong co-production crime action thriller. The film was nominated for Best Action Choreography in the 53rd Golden Horse Film Awards, Taipei in 2016.
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In the opening scene of the movie, three elderly men were brutally killed, but in separate incidents. After that, we see Mrs. K, baking away in her posh, beautiful suburban home, while two young robbers pretending to be couriers enter her home and demand money, and accordingly she beats them up with her quick thinking and fancy moves. So, this normal, elderly housewife is not what she seems after all. Soon enough, bad events start to happen to her family. Strangers appear at her home demanding money, leading to the kidnapping of her teenage daughter and her doctor husband hospitalized while fighting off the attackers.
Apparently, many years ago in Macau, together with a team of men, she robbed a local casino, escaped with lots of cash and settled down in Malaysia. An associate who turned them in and whom she was supposed to kill, now appears to claim his share. The three elderly men earlier on in the film, who were actually part of the team, were his first victims and now he is after her.
Iconic Shaw Brothers veteran, Kara Wai Ying-hung, most famous for her role in “My Young Auntie” (1982) directed by Lau Kar-Leung, in which she also won Best Actress, portrays Mrs. K. At the start of the film, she is seen as a devoted elderly housewife, both fun and elegant. After her daughter is taken hostage, she switches to a desperate mother, fighting for survival and she handles the transition very well. The movie also calls for some intense, brutal action scenes in which she really shines, and the fights are convincing considering she is nearly 60 years old.
Simon Yam, another Asian cinema veteran plays Scarface, her nemesis from Macau. He is a mean and tormented soul looking for vengeance, but every time they confront each other, tension builds up and they light up the screen. Taiwanese rocker Wu Bai has a small role as the doctor husband, but he’s charming enough and adequate in his brief action scene.
Newcomer young actress, Siow Li Xuan, who plays the teenage daughter, is equally good and warm. Another local old-timer actor, Faizal Hussein, who plays Scarface’s right hand man, provides some hard hitting action every time he encounters Kara. Perhaps the most interesting cameos are from Hong Kong directors Fruit Chan (Big Eye) and Kirk Wong (Priest), together with another local director Dain Said (Fatso) they play the three elderly victims.
“Mrs. K” is a beautifully shot film, well directed by Malaysian film maker Ho Yuhang, who has worked with Kara before in “At the End of Daybreak” (2009) which won her the Best Actress award. The use of mostly rural settings plus a variety of languages all work well in creating a local vibe and Malaysian culture. However, the unusual use of the spaghetti western style of music, like blasting saxophone, loud church bell and whistling might put some viewers off. It is a strange experience for a film set in a modern day suburb, but Ho Yuhang did mention that he wanted to treat the film like a Western.
Overall, the performances by both Kara and Simon help to make “Mrs. K” extremely watchable, as long as one doesn’t expect it to be a wall-to-wall martial arts action film. It’s got a bit of everything, a decent slow burn family drama thriller with enough creativity and intense action thrown in.