The Films on Video of
MAO YING (also known as Angela Mao or Angela Mao Ying) was the world's FIRST major female action film star; for this reason she deserves a legendary place in film history. Her film legacy should not be forgotten like so many former film stars. She paved the way for the current generation, indeed for all future generations, of female film fighters. She has been retired for over a decade, but we can still honor Angela by savoring her film performances.
Although most of Angela's films are available on home video, they can be difficult to find. In addition, some films credit her with a starring or co-starring role when she is only on screen for a few minutes. So this web page is intended to serve as one fan's guide for those who want to obtain Angela's very best videos. Hopefully some day there will be sufficient demand so that ALL her films will be issued on home video, and remain available for future generations of movie fans to enjoy. Her primary weapons were her hands and feet, but in some films she used a sword, long knives, staff, spear, or other weapons. The following films of Mao Ying are recommended in the order listed, based on her scenes in the films. The ranking ignores the overall quality of the film.Angela Mao's Videos:
|#1. Dance of Death  -- This film gives Angela her most prominent role, and she does far more fighting in this film than in any of the films listed below, though her combat is much less intense than in her more serious films. She is the only star of this film, and does over 30 minutes of fighting. Her many action scenes are mostly hand-to-hand, with a staff being used in a few sequences. This film has a standard revenge plot, but is largely a comedy. Her grace and skill are a joy to watch, particularly the last 18 minutes. The fight choreography is by Jackie Chan, and I wish they had collaborated on more films. Plot:Angela convinces two rival tutors to train her so that she can take revenge on her enemies. (Cast Photos)|
|#2. The Tournament  -- Angela is the main star, but she doesn't begin fighting until the film is half over. Then she explodes into action with a great fight against Whang In Sik, followed by a fight against Sammo Hung, followed by Wilson Tong and some others. Later in the film she even fights in a Thailand kick-boxing arena, whupping a male opponent, plus more action at the big finish. This film shows Angela at her head-kicking fighting best. More importantly, Angela is truly empowered in this film, in a manner that far exceeds her other starring roles. Plot:Angela's father has a kung fu school in modern Hong Kong, but after her brother, Carter Wong, is defeated in a kick-boxing tournament in Thailand her father is disgraced, so Angela and Carter strive to restore the honor of the school. (Cast Photos)|
|#3. Hapkido (Lady Kung Fu)  -- She is the main star, but does very little fighting during the first part of the film, where the main action scenes belong to Carter Wong and Sammo Hung (in his first starring role). During the second half, however, Angela has several great hand-to-hand battles, including what is probably her best fight against a roomful of attackers, with some truly exceptional head-kicking. She has about eight total minutes of fighting; her big one-on-one fight is against Pai Ying. (It's very strange to see Whang In Sik playing a good guy in this film--usually he is a villain fighting against Angela.) Plot:Angela and her friends establish a hapkido school in China, but a rival Japanese judo school won't leave them in peace. (Cast Photos)|
|#4. Broken Oath  -- This classic film portrays Angela at her most lethal. Although not appearing for the first 12 minutes, she is the main star, and she has most of the action scenes, about half of which are hand-to-hand, including a fight against Sammo. She uses a variety of weapons for her other fights, including a metal yo-yo, and she wields long knives for her final big action sequence. Plot:Angela tracks down the killers of her father, aided by her pet scorpions. (Cast Photos)|
|#5. When Taekwondo Strikes (Sting of the Dragon Masters)  -- Angela is the main star of this film. She does not appear for the first 25 minutes, but then she has most of the hand-to-hand (and hand-to-sword) action scenes, including two fights against Sammo, and a good fight against Whang In Sik, plus others. Lots of head-kicking action. Plot:Japanese seek to capture the leader of the Korean resistance movement, who is a friend of Angela's. (Cast Photos)|
|#6. Stoner (Hong Kong Hitman)  -- All the film's early action scenes are given to George Lazenby, who is the main star. Angela has only dialogue scenes until the last portion of the film. In the film's final 10 minutes she battles the two head villains, while Lazenby is fighting with Sammo and other secondary henchmen. I feel guilty ranking this film so highly because it's such a terrible film, but Angela is excellent and her intense, head-kicking final fight scene with Whang In Sik is not to be missed--I consider it her very best one-on-one fight scene. Plot:In modern Hong Kong, Angela and Lazenby seek to smash a drug ring which uses a Taoist temple as a front. (Cast Photos) .|
|#7. Swift Shaolin Boxer  -- Angela is on screen for less than 1/4 of this film, but she has over seven minutes of hand-to-hand fighting, portraying a rebel working as a bouncer while really being an undercover loyalist. Some of her fight scenes are superb and among her very best. The film itself is very poor, consisting mostly of fight scenes between others, with a very minimal and nonsensical plot. Bad film, but excellent showcase for Angela. Plot:Loyalists vs. rebels. (Cast Photos)|
|#8. Lady Whirlwind (Deep Thrust)  -- Angela is one of the two main stars, and has several big hand-to-hand fight scenes, including two fights against Sammo. Her big scene in the gambling den full of attacking villains is a classic. But she does almost no fighting for the last third of the film, and her "swingy-arms" fighting style in this film appears highly vulnerable (though the plot has her utterly invincible). When she beats up Sammo in this film it's not really believable; when she beats him up in later films it looks more convincing. But it is interesting to compare her early fighting style here with her later polished style after she had undergone more training. Plot:Angela seeks to kill Chang Yi, who is responsible for her sister's suicide, but she grants him a reprieve so that he can take revenge against a gang leader. (Cast Photos)|
|#9. The Himalayan  -- She is one of the three main stars, and she has only two hand-to-hand fight scenes, at the beginning and end of the film. But her fight scene at the end, teaming up with Tan Tao Liang to fight the villain and his henchmen in a seven-minute battle, is a very good one. The film has an excellent plot, fascinating costumes, and great location settings. This is definitely one of Angela's better films, despite the silly manner in which villain Chen Sing is defeated (ptui!). Plot:A villain conspires step-by-step to take power from a wealthy land baron. (Cast Photos)|
|#10. Back Alley Princess  -- This modern, light-hearted film (with a few intense scenes) was Angela's biggest box office success in Hong Kong (except for "Enter the Dragon"), and understandably so. This is not primarily a "martial arts" film, though it has some fighting scenes. Of all her films, this one is most human, appeals to the widest audience range, and it leaves the warmest afterglow. But Angela only has a strong supporting role in this film, portraying a very normal girl with fighting skills. She has three hand-to-hand scenes, including one against heroine Polly Shang Kwan. In the very satisfying action finale, Angela and Polly invade the stronghold of lecherous villain Han Ying Chieh. Plot:A Hong Kong street-wise orphan (Polly), disguised as a boy, is taken in by a poor extended family, and she helps solve their problems. (Cast Photos)|
|#11. Lady Constables  -- Angela is one of the three main stars. She has many fight scenes, primarily hand-to-hand, but she also uses some other weapons, particularly her impossible throwing sashes. There are many superhuman leaps in this film (which I generally dislike, as they detract from the reality of the fights). This role is one of her most appealing characterizations; she portrays a no-nonsense female sheriff with lots of personality. She's not out for revenge or fighting to overthrow an unjust ruler; she's just doing her job and doing it well. The film's climactic battle against villain Chang Yi is totally unrealistic--at one point he flings his spinning umbrella and Angela leaps on top of it and rides it through the air. Right. Plot:When the "shining pearls" are stolen, three rival good fighters track down the culprits. (Cast Photos)|
|#12. Two Great Cavaliers  -- She and John Liu are the two main stars, and Angela has several very good hand-to-hand action scenes. For the first part of this film she is motivated largely by petty jealousy (in her other films she has more important things on her mind). Good costumes. During one fight, she delivers seven consecutive whirling head kicks to one villain! The end of the film doesn't make much sense, but I guess we aren't supposed to care, as long as the villain is defeated. Plot:Government loyalists struggle against rebels and mercenaries. (Cast Photos) Dubbed.|
|#13. The Legendary Strike (Iron Maiden)  -- Angela is one of several main characters, but she does not appear for the first 30 minutes. Her film entrance is perhaps her best, being discovered inside a coffin and winking at the astonished "monk" who was expecting to find a murdered man. She has about five minutes of fighting, mostly hand-to-hand, including energetic, but mostly ineffective, fights against villains Chen Sing and Carter Wong. Plot:Everyone is after a sacred pearl. (Cast Photos)|
|#14. Thunderbolt  -- Pai Ying and James Tien are the main stars, but Angela still has about seven minutes of fighting, some hand-to-hand, and a very nice slaughterfest sequence holding two swords. The film has lots of wire work, trampoline jumps, and reverse-projection jumps. Angela was injured during the making of this film, and was hospitalized for two weeks. This was perhaps her most physically demanding film. Plot:Pai Ying destroys most of the Dragon Clan, so James Tien and Angela seek revenge. (Cast Photos)|
|#15. Deadly China Doll (The Opium Trail)  -- Angela is one of several main characters, but she doesn't have a great deal to do aside from her fight scenes. She has about seven minutes of fighting, primarily hand-to-hand against single opponents, including a poorly-choreographed fight against big Cheng Fu Hung. Her other fight scenes are somewhat better, except that she is constantly supposed to be jumping over the heads of her opponents, and some of the fighting is poorly edited. In all her fights she is invincible. Plot:A shipment of opium is coming through a town in which Angela lives, attracting various evildoers.|
|#16. Duel with the Devils  -- Angela has a supporting role, portraying the daughter of a police chief. She has three fight scenes, primarily hand-to-sword against multiple opponents, with lots of head kicks. One fight takes place on a train. Plot:During the Japanese occupation of China, Tan Tao Liang seeks his wife, who was abducted by Japanese soldiers. (Cast Photos)|
|#17. Scorching Sun, Fierce Wind, Wild Fire (Dragon Connection)  -- Angela is one of many main colorful characters. She has several short action scenes throughout the film, then she has two good (but mostly ineffective) hand-to-hand fights with villain Chang Yi at the finish. Plot:Angela is a warlord's daughter who moonlights as a good bandit queen, in a complex tale of rebels, bandits, rival warlords, escaped convicts, and a hidden treasure map. (Cast Photos)|
|#18. The Angry River  -- This swordfight film has more gushing blood than in all her other films combined. Angela is the main star, but she uses only a sword and does no hand-to-hand fighting (except for when she sort of wrestles with a dragon). She has two fight scenes early in the film. Then Angela leaves the fighting to others until the big finish, in which she and Kao Yuan attack villain Pai Ying (whose weapon looks like a huge backscratcher) and his henchmen in a seven-minute battle. There are lots of unrealistic tree jumps, etc. Her big one-on-one swordfight is against Han Ying Chieh. This film also has historical interest because it was Angela's first film, and the very first Golden Harvest film. Sammo has two swordfights in this film, but not against Angela. Plot:Angela goes on a quest for the Black Herb, and seeks revenge against the killer of her father. (Cast Photos)|
|#19. The Fate of Lee Khan  -- Angela has a strong supporting role, with several brief action sequences, primarily hand-to-hand, plus some swordplay. In her dialogue scenes she displays a great deal of personality--she is the most appealing character in this notable film. The film has much less action than the typical "martial arts" film, and those action scenes are not directed well. Angela wears a long skirt, which obscures her graceful movements in the fights. But the other aspects of this film (story, acting, etc.) are excellent. There is a highly-memorable scene where she cartwheels over a counter. Plot:Mongol ruler Lee Khan and his entourage visit an inn whose employees are secret rebels against him. (Cast Photos)|
|#20. Moonlight Sword and Jade Lion  -- She is the star, and has about half of the action scenes, but does almost no hand-to-hand; her weapon resembles a very short spear, which she can expand to full length and use like a staff. The video appears to have been edited; the plot is very confusing and many loose ends are never explained, including the motivation of several key characters. The action scenes use many camera tricks, trick wires, reverse-projection jumps, and trampoline jumps. The fight scene between Angela and villainess Lung Chung Erh was particularly disappointing. So, despite the substantial amount of screen footage given to Angela, I have ranked this film relatively low, partly because I prefer to see Angela doing hand-to-hand combat, but if your main interest is seeing Angela subdue many opponents, you might rank this film higher. Plot:Angela seeks the missing brother of her teacher. (Cast Photos)|
|#21. The Revenge of Kung Fu Mao (Big Foot Mama)  -- Angela is one of the two main characters, and does over 6 minutes of fighting, about half of which is hand-to-hand. In some of her fighting she uses a bench as a weapon. Her costumes here are mostly unflattering and very bulky, hiding the grace of her movements in the fight scenes. The source print had many edits, some of which appear to be from breaks in the film, and others from censorship of some violent scenes.Plot:Angela searches for her errant husband and then seeks revenge. (Cast Photos)|
|#22. Snake Deadly Act  -- Angela has a very unusual role (for her), portraying the madam of a brothel! A charming villainess, she uses a sword to attack the unarmed hero (attempting to emasculate him!) and then fights the hero's teacher, who is armed with only a fan against her sword. Her scene lasts less than six minutes. Later in the film she has one more brief dialogue scene. Although her role in this film is limited, I have ranked it higher than her other brief appearances because the role is such a novelty. (Cast Photos)|
|#23. Return of the Tiger  -- Angela has a brief supporting role in this unbelievably bad film. But she has an excellent two-minute head-kicking fight scene against a roomful of attackers at the beginning of the film, and does a little more fighting at the end of the film. As for the remainder of this wretched film, if you waste your time watching it, don't complain I didn't warn you. Plot:Bruce Li goes undercover to smash two rival drug gangs. (Cast Photos)|
|#24. Duels in the Desert (The Proud Horse in Flying Sand)  -- She has three hand-to-hand single-combat sequences totaling about three minutes, plus many dialogue scenes in her role as innkeeper. One of her fights is against Pai Ying. The plot is incredibly complicated; throughout most of the film it is impossible for a first-time viewer to determine who the heroes and who the villains are (at one point it appears that everyone except Angela is a villain, but at the conclusion...). The video has a poor sound track, and not much action until the very end. The fight scenes are not directed very well. Plot:An annual horse race brings many visitors to an inn, but they all have hidden motives. (Cast Photos)|
|#25. Bandits, Prostitutes, and Silver (The Damned) (Wu Tang Ho's, Thugs & Scrillah)  -- Angela has a supporting role as a bandit with a heart of gold and an unbelievable weapon: spinning razor disks on her shoes. She has several dialogue scenes and horseback scenes, but she only has one fight scene, lasting a little over two minutes. Most of her fighting is against Lo Lieh. This film has good music (lifted from a Spaghetti Western) and a very strong plot--possibly the best plot of any film listed here. It is ranked low on this list only because Angela's fighting is so brief. Plot:Wang Tao is a poor wagon driver in love with a prostitute; in order to get enough money to buy her freedom, he agrees to serve as driver for a criminal planning to steal a shipment of silver--but a bandit gang, led by Angela and her husband, is also after the silver. (Cast Photos)|
|#26. Naughty! Naughty!  -- In this film Angela portrays herself. She has only a three-minute scene in this modern comedy, but two of those minutes involve excellent fighting against multiple attackers, one of whom is Carter Wong. Her fighting here has many head kicks, and is a better fight scene than can be found in over half of her other films. She fights bare-armed in this film, which is very rare; aside from her boxing ring scene in "The Tournament", in all other films she wears long sleeves during her fights. Another actor in this film is Huang Feng, who directed most of Angela's best films for Golden Harvest; he also portrays himself here. Plot:Sam Hui tries to earn a living by scheming and swindling. (Cast Photos)|
|#27. A Queen's Ransom  -- Angela has a sympathetic supporting role as an exiled Cambodian princess in this modern film, but she only has about one minute of hand-to-hand fighting. She almost has a fight with Bolo Yeung (I would sure like to see THAT!) but just as they face each other to fight, police appear on the scene and he flees. In the action climax of the film, Angela gets to fire a submachine gun, which is a rare sight indeed. Plot:An international team of criminals and terrorists led by George Lazenby arrive in Hong Kong prior to a visit by Queen Elizabeth, and the police attempt to discover and thwart their plot. (Cast Photos)|
|#28. Enter the Dragon  -- This is the only video of Angela's which many Americans have seen; it is probably the only one available in your local video store. Her one scene as Bruce Lee's sister lasts just four minutes. She gets to deliver a few good head kicks, but all she does is run, fight and die--a victim. There is no dialogue, no personality, no character development, and when facing defeat she takes her own life. (Angela does die in several other films, but never by her own hand--she always prefers to go down fighting.) In all her other films, Angela lives in a violent, male-dominated world--but SHE is not male-dominated, she makes her own destiny, she is not just a victim. Of course this film has better production values than most of her other films; the low position on this list is because this ranking is solely from the perspective of Angela's role in the film.|
|#29. The Invincible Eight  -- Angela is one of the eight heroic lead characters (five men, three women). She has three fight scenes, but does no hand-to-hand fighting. In her first two fights she uses a fan. Most of her fighting is done in the big 13-minute action climax, when the eight good fighters invade the stronghold of the villain, and she uses a sword or two in that battle. (Poor old villain Han Ying Chieh is attacked by all eight at the same time; in American films it's only the bad guys who gang up like that on someone.) Plot:The children of people killed by an evil general seek to take revenge. (Cast Photos)|
|#30. The Association  -- Angela has a dual role portraying sisters, but not much to do in either role. Her two brief fight scenes total less than two minutes. She also has a few brief dialogue scenes, and there is a scene where Angela and the hero run happily in slow motion, like in old TV commercials. Plot:A detective seeks to smash a prostitution ring, which uses the cover of a welfare association. (Cast Photos)|
|#31. Ghost Bride (Witch Edited)  -- Angela does no fighting in her supporting role as Queen of Hell (but she is not a villainess); this is not a martial arts film. She has two dialogue scenes totaling about 10 minutes. One of her scenes is the big action climax of the film, but all the supernatural "fighting" is done by others. The film is a bizarre mixture of fairy tale, ghostly superheroes (who can fly through the air, shoot force beams from their hands, etc.), unexplained weirdness, and extreme luridity. Plot:The good Prince of Hell (not the fire-and-brimstone version of Hell) seeks an earthly bride, but an evil witch stands in his way. (Cast Photos)|
|#32. The Invincible Kung Fu Trio  -- Angela has a small supporting role as the cousin of two of the heroes. I really don't understand why they bothered to cast Angela in this film. Her bland role is unnecessary, she really doesn't do anything but look pretty, and she only fights for around 30 seconds. Some kung fu films have relatively little fighting until the end, but this film has a great deal of fighting throughout the entire film. As long as Angela was in this film, couldn't they have given her at least a few minutes of the fighting? This film is a very sad waste of her talent. Plot:Three male rebels fight against evil loyalists. (Cast Photos)|
|#33. Duel in Gambling Den  -- Angela has a small supporting role in this crime drama, and has less than a minute of fighting. Plot:An ex-con seeks vengeance against a gangland queen (Elsa Yeung). (Cast Photos)|
|One additional video is recommended; it is not in any groups listed above. Top Fighter 2: Deadly China Dolls (or Top Figher 2: Deadly Fighting Dolls) is a documentary on female Hong Kong action stars. The segment devoted to Angela lasts nearly nine minutes and contains an interview interspersed with clips from her films. The film footage consists of excerpts from trailers for "Sting of the Dragon Masters" and "Deep Thrust," followed by clips from "Lady Whirlwind," "Hapkido," "Scorching Sun, Fierce Wind, Wild Fire," "Dance of Death," "Sting of the Dragon Masters" and "Snake Deadly Act." The segment of this documentary which is devoted to Angela makes it clear that an ENTIRE documentary should be devoted to her film career.|
Which of the above films have the best plots? Martial arts films are not generally known for their story quality. But looking only at the plot, and ignoring the size of Angela's role in the film, the following are the best films in the above list: The Himalayan, Back Alley Princes, The Fate of Lee Khan, and Bandits, Prostitutes, and Silver. Angela was alwaysmuch better than the films she was cast in. In an interview published in 1974 she expressed the opinion that she had not yet made any really fine films, but she thought her best film was Back Alley Princes. That is a very reasonable statement, and probably would not have been modified after making her later films.
Politically Correct warning:The films Hapkido, When Taekwondo Strikes, Lady Whirlwind and Duel with the Devils portray extremely derogatory Japanese stereotypes, common in Hong Kong films. If you wish to avoid watching films containing such stereotypes, you should skip those films.
Sleaze warning:Angela herself did absolutely no sleazy scenes; she refused to even expose a bare shoulder in any of her films. But in some of her films, other characters have very sleazy scenes. If such scenes offend you, you should particularly avoid Ghost Bride, The Association and Stoner. Fortunately (considering the plots of many Hong Kong films), none of Angela's films had plots which portrayed her as being violated.
A note on her name, Mao Ying:In Western countries, the family name comes last; in China it comes first. So her family name is Mao, and her personal name is Ying (screen name was changed to Angela for initial release of her films in the West).
Angela's most frequent Co-Stars: The following actors appeared in many of Angela's films: Sammo Hung (11); Carter Wong (8); Pai Ying (7); Han Ying Chieh (7); Whang In Sik (5); Wilson Tong (5).
Angela's best lines:
"Want to die? Come on!" -- When Taekwando Strikes
"That is to teach you not to talk to me dirty!" -- Lady Constables
"Killing you is going to be a real pleasure!" -- Hapkido
"That tone of voice--you might scare some young kid with that, but not me!" -- Swift Shaolin Boxer
"Well then, you want some more?" -- Lady Whirlwind
"He's with your mother!" -- Dance of Death
"Now you can die, too. Because I'm going to kill all of you!" -- Deadly China Doll
(Quotes like that must be considered in context: a young unarmed woman facing a bunch of bad guys.
Alex Ben Bock, "The Boom From Angela Mao's Room", in The Legend of Bruce Lee, Chapter 13, Dell 1974, pp. 142-150. [interview]
Sergio Ortiz, "Angela Mao Ying", in Fighting Stars, Oct. 1974, pp. 22-31. [interview, photos]
This page is created and maintained by Bruce Long, firstname.lastname@example.org who also maintains a web site on the kung fu films of female fighters from that cinema era.