Some of you know just how much I loved Angela Mao from back in the day, but I haven’t really written about her. I want to take the time to talk about someone who could have been (in my opinion) the next best thing to Bruce Lee. Yeah, I know I know, a ton of you are probably saying already “he’s off his rocker!” “No way does she come close to being Bruce Lee.” However, when I say “the next best thing,” But are you sure about that? Sometimes I think that a lot of people who strongly disagree with me on that statement, are judging more strictly on the basis that Bruce was a male, and males (especially in those days) are seen as the ones with all the power and skill. In other words I think there’s a little sexism there. Granted, her first movies were weak, I have to be honest and give you that. However, it took her no time in improving her skill. I never saw anyone punch like her with such precision. Most importantly, I love the fact that she didn’t do a whole lot of “flying” as was so popular in the 70s. That flying made everything look sooo unrealistic.
If I remember correctly, the first time I saw Angela was I saw “When Taekwondo Strikes (1973),” or also known as “Tai quan zhen jiu zhou (1973).” Now, keep in mind, during that time, there were not that many female martial artists at the time. The industry was clearly male dominated, so to see her fighting skills, AND the fact that she was able to sustain her ultra femininity was huge in my book (given the culture at the time). Now, I loved this particular movie not because I felt Angela kicked ass in it, but because it was a powerful movie with a good story line. In essence, rebel leader Jhoon Rhee was part of a Japanese resistance. The Japanese were like the Nazis in this movie. They absolutely hated Chinese people, and they literally invaded China and tried to take it over. Angela, hot-headed Carter Wong, Ann Winton, and a few others were apart of that Japanese resistance. Unfortunately long story short, the Japanese captured Jhoon, and tortured him in order for him to hand over important documentation. The Japanese treated the Chinese so crewel, I just couldn’t wait until the heroes kick their butt! Lots of action, kicking ass, and emotion. This movie was a head of its time. I was hoping they would remaster this movie, but you’d be lucky to find DVD quality (that’s if you find the movie). It should still be available on amazon for streaming. To rent When Taekwando Strikes, it’s only $3.
Another movie I enjoyed very much was a movie called “Hapkido (1972).” She got her butt beat pretty bad in this movie, but she prevailed. One of my favorite scenes in this movie, was when she kick this dude’s butt with her ponytail! Her ponytail! Then I knew then she was a bad bitch. I never seen anyone do that before! Again, although she was well known in the martial arts world, I really expected her to blow up in America behind Bruce Lee. Especially since she had a small role in “Enter The Dragon.” But I forgot, most people remembered Jim Kelly, John Saxton, Bolo Yeung, and of course Bruce. That includes myself. I always forget Angela was in this movie. But I guess the culture for female fighters just wasn’t there yet. Although, you can’t tell me she didn’t pave the way for people like China O’Brian, Uma Thurman, and even Kelly Hu.