Yu Nu, aka Iron Sister (1999) from ICMS

Iron Sister is a Taiwanese movie (Original title: Yu Nu) which is marketed in Hong Kong on DVD as a category III (18+) erotic movie, with the advertising accentuating the nude scene from beautiful lead actress Shu Qi. Such slippery marketing doesn't do justice to this feature. It is not an erotic film at all. It is in fact a legitimate drama set in Manchuria during the Japanese occupation from the 1930's till 1945. The solid drama happens to have some moderate levels of sex and nudity, but not even a peek at pubic hair. The equivalent of an American R rating would be more appropriate.
It begins as Tung, a Chinese man enlisted in the Japanese Imperial Army, is at it with his girlfriend, played by Yeung Yi-ting, in the tent of a Japanese major. The major walks in on them and he isn't pleased at all. A fight ensues in which Tung kills the major in self-defense. Tung must flee to the countryside and finds refuge in a remote little farm run by Ironic (Shu Qi) and her father. Ironic is very much in love with her fiancÚ and soulmate and they are about to be married. During a nightly raid against the Japanese her father is killed and the cunning Tung uses the general bedlam as a cover to kill her fiancÚ.

NUDITY REPORT

  • Shi Qi shows breasts and buns, there is possibly a far off full frontal glimpse, while she frolicks in the river with her fiancÚ
  • Yeung Yi-Ting shows her breasts in two scenes making love to her boyfriend Tung.

Ironic finds herself pregnant by her dead fiancÚ, and her dad can't run the farm anymore because of his injuries, so she has no other solution than to enter a loveless marriage with Tung. Of course she doesn't know what he has done to her fiancÚ. When Tung later discovers his former girlfriend working in a whorehouse to support herself, things really take an ugly turn for Ironic, her father, and her little daughter Tigress.

 DVD INFO from www.dddhouse.com

It  is an all regions NTSC disk. The audio is in DD 5.1 Cantonese and Mandarin with Chinese and English subtitles. The picture quality however suffers in some parts from scratches and dust which is very surprising for a 1999 film. It is available from  for just HK$30, so you can't really complain.

For me this movie turned out to be a pleasant surprise. There is a clear but simple storyline without plot holes and the ingenious script takes some small details early in the movie and builds them into important details later on. Furthermore the characters are well developed and the actors put in a decent performance. Also, as opposed to many recent high budget films like Troy, there is no lack of humanity in this movie and you find yourself caring for what happens to Ironic, her father and Tigress. Of course it is no masterpiece either, think more of it like an unpolished gem that rates C in our rating system. If the storyline had been more elaborate and the camerawork above average, then I might have rated this as C+.

The Critics Vote ...

  • There are no major print-based reviews online. IMDB has links to some reviews from internet-based sources.

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. The IMDb  score of 4.8 is meaningless because comprises seven votes.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C. Solid drama with some beautiful nudity as a bonus.

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