Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

Double Feature: Movie and a Book

For once, a book introduced me to my new favorite movie.

It was actually a double whammy of finding two new treasures. At the only dedicated romance book store in Los Angeles, The Ripped Bodice, I was enticed by a sequel book launch event for Heroine Worship by Sarah Kuhn. Lured by the attraction of local comedians doing the reading, cupcakes, Japanese food truck, and a bunch of local talent, I decided to check it out even though I had not read the first book, Heroine Complex at this point. The event was a rousing success as it was super fun and memorable but also encouraged me to check out the first book.

Heroine Complex visualizes an alternate present time where a portal had unleashed demons that ravaged cities. It is now common place for cities to have their own heroes to watch over them. In San Francisco, the area is graciously protected by Aveda Jupier- a kick ass Asian American superhero who looks good killing demons. Alongside her taking care of logistics is her best friend, Evie Tanaka. Together these bffs locate demons and fight them all while maintaining Aveda’s social media to appease her fan base.

Aveda may be a superhero but she is not impervious to getting hurt and is forced to the sidelines. She manages to convince Evie to pretend to be her (using charms) to keep the city safe. It was all meant to be a short period of time. Of course, thing didn’t turn out the way they expected.

This was a book that I had seen many times on bookshelves but I was turned off by the overly bright and cartoonish cover. I had easily dismissed it as a gimmick and a fluffy read. Honestly, the first few paragraphs did not dispel that assumption. If it wasn’t for the positive and loving reaction from fans at the launch event, I would have given it up. It begins with demons who have taken the form of cupcakes to attack humans. Absolutely silly and definitely a strong inducement for some serious eyeball rolling.

After jumping past the silliness of the cupcake attack (while reading, it is hard not to hum the “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” theme song), the story reveals its heart immediately. It is a great story about overcoming the weight of history between long time friends and not losing one’s identity. It is a surprising book that resonates so well for myself and my fellow friends. During the whole book, a certain movie kept being referenced. This movie was credited as laying the foundation for not just their superhero identity but also that friendship. It was a movie that I assumed was not real. On a whim, I looked it up and I was completely surprised to find it exists. This movie was “The Heroic Trio” featuring the martial arts kick-ass skills of Michelle Yeoh, Anita Mui, and Maggie Cheung. Thanks to the local library I was able to watch this nostalgic gem from the book.

The movie is set in a very small neighborhood in some city with lots of steam from the sewers, babies have gone missing. Whispers of an invisible person has been snatching away the precious bundles. Hot on the trail of the thief is the masked hero, Wonder Woman (played by Anita Mui). The more Wonder Woman digs into disappearance, the more she finds that it is connected to a supernatural connection that threatens all of humankind. It will take a brainwashed lackey (played by Michelle Yeoh) and a bounty hunter (Michelle Cheung) to fix it all.

I was floored. I absolutely love this movie. I am beyond astounded and shocked that I have never heard of The Heroic Trio before reading Heroic Worship. This 1993 movie features three female, Asian leads in a dramatic and corny but amazing martial arts movie. It is completely saturated with nineties aesthetic and superhero glam but it is such an entertaining cheesy movie. It is no wonder that Kuhn heavily referenced the movie in the book. It is a great foundation for the growth of Evie and Aveda’s growth in terms of being a superhero and being friends.


  1. Jeff Nettleton

    The Heroic Trio is an excellent film; but, is best seen in the original Hong Kong version. The American release redubbed things and edited some scenes, to cut down the time, as much as anything else. It plays better in the original format, not to mention things feel more natural with the original dialogue.

    I first discovered the film, thanks to the book Hong Kong Action Cinema, by Bey Logan. I had seen a couple of John Woo films (The Killer and Hard Boiled) and then discovered this book, which covers everything from the wonders of Wong Fei Hung (the legendary martial arts master) to Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung, to things like The Heroic Trio and the gun ballets of John Woo. It’s a great reference for anyone interested in the films and their background, not to mention the studios and actors.

    There is a sequel to The Heroic Trio, called The Executioners. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic timeframe, with all three actresses back to deal with an enemy who is out for revenge. Wonder Woman is now a mother, who had retired; but, is forced back into her role, by circumstances.

    Also worth checking out are Michelle Yeoh’s Wing Chun, based around the woman who founded the wing chun style of kung fu, and the film Silver Hawk, in which Yeoh plays a superheroine, who runs around on a motorcycle, rescuing pandas from illegal animal traders and battles tech barons who have slipped mind control devices in cell phones (played by Bros former singer Luke Goss). She has some excellent fight scenes with Michael Jai White (Black Dynamite, Spawn, Tyson). Both films feature her as a tough, dedicated protector of the weak, and a strong female character and role model.

    Yeoh also plays an Indiana Jones-inspired character in the film Magnificent Warriors, which is set in the 30s, as the Chinese face the Japanese incursions in Manchuria. It’s not quite as good as Wing Chun or The Heroic Trio; but, it is an entertaining film.

  2. Edo Bosnar

    O.k., now I really want to see the Heroic Trio. And damned if I’m not interested in those books as well. Geez, this is like reading one of Hatcher’s posts – I’m running book searches immediately afterward.
    However, as a result of running said search, I see that Kuhn’s books are published by DAW, which just makes me happy for some reason. Daw has always been one of my favorite publishers – both back in the 70s/80s, when original founder Donald Wollheim was running the show, and now, with his daughter Elizabeth Wollheim calling the shots.

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