The Inspector Wears Skirts

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The Inspector Wears Skirts (1988) was producer Jackie Chan’s response to the American Police Academy films. Instead of just replicating those films, The Inspector Wears Skirts focuses exclusively on women, more specifically an elite team of female cops in training. The misogyny of the Police Academy movies is retained, but it is kept in the private sphere of the character’s lives, turning The Inspector Wears Skirts into a film that celebrates gender equality in a hyper masculine work environment.

Interestingly, as the cadets advance in their training they become more assertive of their autonomy in the private sphere of their lives. At the start of The Inspector Wears Skirts many of the women are little more than door mats for love. By the time they are ready for their first mission in the field, the women are kicking the butts of rakes and rogues as if it were open season on sleaze balls. This transformation is never commented upon directly; it simply exists as a byproduct of the main training narrative. The matter-of-factness of this development makes it all the more empowering.

It’s no surprise that a film Jackie Chan produces would find the auteur employing a number of his frequent collaborators. To this end The Inspector Wears Skirts has Chan’s fingerprints all over it, especially the bombastic opening sequence. Like many of Chan’s vehicles The Inspector Wears Skirts is a comedy bookended by explosive set pieces. Along the way elements of the musical and the melodrama are imported into the mix, making The Inspector Wears Skirts an immensely entertaining yet somewhat convoluted piece of escapism.

Sibelle Hu and Cynthia Rothrock may get top billing, but the focus is very much on the cadets that they are training. These Hong Kong matinee idols still manage to steal every scene they appear in, even when acting opposite the great Amy Yip. Director Wellson Chin would re-team with star Rothrock on the Hong Kong oddity Prince Of The Sun (1990) but he remains best known for making The Inspector Wears Skirts films. Chin proves he is equally adept at physical humor as he is at staging and photographing high voltage action set pieces.

All in all The Inspector Wears Skirts exemplifies the ever popular fusion of action and comedy in Hong Kong films of this period. It’s never quite as revolutionary as Yes, Madam (1985) in terms of its female led action nor is it ever as funny as Chan’s own pictures. Still, The Inspector Wears Skirts accomplishes all that it sets out to do and it does it with style. It’s definitely a “must see” for connoisseur’s of classic Hong Kong movies.