Starring Angela Mao, former James Bond actor George Lazenby, and Hong Kong movie veterans Sammo Hung, Wilson Tong, Hwang In-Shik and Betty Ting Pei (whose apartment was where Bruce Lee was found dead), the movie plays one-part secret agent/ police story, and one-part Hong Kong Kung Fu flick. It’s a departure from many other Golden Harvest movies at the time, with this being set in modern times and having a more timely exploitation feel, complete with a cheesy 70’s soundtrack. Angela Mao plays a Hong Kong police officer who has to uncover the truth behind a cargo ship and its underworld connections, which is a group of mobsters who are creating and trafficking a new highly-addictive drug called “Happy Pill”. Fast forward to a drug den/ orgy in Australia, where George Lazenby literally bursts into the scene in search of his sister, who has overdosed to death on the drug. The two stories slowly merge once Lazenby arrives in Hong Kong as the pair each get closer in resolving their missions, even though it takes them over two hours and 20 minutes to join forces.
“Stoner” is a super-cheesy throwback filled with dated exploitation tropes from drug orgies, obscene amounts of nudity, and awful moustaches, but that is also what makes it a ton of fun to watch. Not only do we get hand to hand combat in this movie, but we also get a car chase which was unusual for the average HK action movie at that time. Best of all, tons of awful tight ’70’s bell bottom pants – count all the times the butt or crotch seam rips while people are fighting! There is also much more development of the baddies as opposed to other movies. We see much more of them making drugs, being evil, and having lavish parties that involve a good deal of topless women serving drinks.
Speaking of, the fight scenes are much more spread out in this movie compared to the others we have seen in this Angela Mao collection. Lazenby adjusts well to the HK style of cinematic fighting, working his butt off in the majority of the fight scenes in the movie. He is not as tight with his moves as his Chinese counterparts are, but he holds his own, and I can respect him for that. Mao does her usual routine of beating up droves of bad guys, and also shows her versatility as an actress and not just an action star. Mao and Lazenby do have a short fight scene, which is decent but mostly odd (watch and you will understand). The climax of the film is extremely action-packed and makes up for much of the slowness in the beginning, especially with Mao’s final fight. Sammo Hung was actually the fight choreographer in this movie, so we can thank him for getting Lazenby ready to fight, and for making Mao shine like she always does.
Overall, “Stoner” feels like a distant cousin of the Golden Harvest films of that era, but also a precursor of things to come for them. It’s a solid HK movie that feels slightly Americanized, and that is where it is weakest. But whenever Angela comes on screen, everything suddenly gets better.
You can get this movie, along with five other Angela Mao movies with The Angela Mao Ying Collection from Shout Factory, and I definitely recommend getting this set today for some very high-quality martial arts action that beats the old grainy VHS tapes that we are used to seeing these on.