Model by Day (1994):
Based on the independent comic book by Kevin J. Taylor. I've
actually e-mailed with the guy a few times. He's nice, and I wish
him all the best! A wonderful artist!
premise is simple. Lex is a supermodel in New York City.
Her roommate and best friend Jae Davis, who happens to be a
photographer, is brutally beaten and hospitalized by car thieves.
The cops do next to nothing to stop these criminals. Lex,
understandably upset, puts on a sexy purple costume and seeks the
abusive car thieves. While evading the police, the back of her
costume shows an X. The media gives her the name of "Lady X" and
This is a fun film despite its flaws, but it is
well-filmed and well-acted. I like the action scenes and all the
sexy-looking women. A lot of neat stuff to see, which is what
this movie really relies on. It's more of a visual thing, and not
dependent on it's story. This film is entertaining, but it
doesn't always make sense. At times, there seem to be plot holes
big enough to drive a truck through. Famke Janssen starred as
Lady X, long before she became a really famous movie actress in her own
right. She looks great, perhaps the best she's ever looked on
film, and visually looks like she can beat up guys thanks to her height
Lex just put on the costume to avenge her friend,
and she takes care of the thieves in short order. That was really
her only motivation for becoming Lady X. Why did she continue to
fight crime as a vigilante? It is never explained.
The major thing wrong with this film is that they
were trying to tell an incredible story in a 90-minute movie.
They would've been better off telling a smaller story, because they
were trying to cram too much in and it ended up having plot
holes. What they were doing here was more suitable
for a TV mini-series or weekly series. For instance:
1. The car thieves
were important for Lex becoming Lady X, but they weren't given names or
anything. They were just walk-on characters. And she caught
them easily without doing any research or even really knowing anything
about them. How did she know that these were the same men who
beat up Jae, anyway? They should've just made the movie about
Lady X trying to catch these thieves instead of all the big elaborate
stuff that they squeezed in here. Actually, all they showed us in
this movie could've been carried out through several episodes of a
television series with more plot and character definition.
2. I have a pretty good imagination and can let a lot of things
slide, but why did Lex pick that crazy purple costume to be Lady
X? First of all, purple is an easy color to spot, but most
importantly why would it have to be so overtly sexy-looking? Not
complaining, mind you, but it just doesn't make sense why she would
want to dress so scant to fight crime. It's also unclear if she
made the costume or found the costume. The helmet she found at
her modeling job. One of the most important things about any
superhero is his/her costume, and the origin of the costume was
completely passed by.
3. Supermodel Lex keeps complaining that everybody sees her as a
sex icon and a woman above all others. Why didn't the filmmakers
try to make her more of a real person, then, when she wasn't
modeling? She always looked sexy and she seemed to do just about
anything that they wanted her to do including speaking German and
Chinese. And I'm thinking if she wants to avoid the whole "babe"
label, why is she dressing up so sexy as Lady X?
Back to the story! Later on in the show, a
sleazebag club owner named Tommy Nolan gets killed. We find out
it was the work of a Lady X copycat. Nobody saw the crime
actually happen, but everybody suspects it was Lady X. Why?
Because he was kissed with a brand of lipstick called Prison? Huh?
And Lieutenant Eddie Walker automatically
suspects Lex of being Lady X and for having killed Tommy. First
of all, why did they think Lady X was the murderer? Most
importantly, how did Walker come to the conclusion that Lex was Lady X
without any evidence? And he only met her once before. Lex
advertised Prison lipstick, so I guess that made her a suspect AND Lady
X? Huh? It would have been reasonable to assume that Lex
killed Tommy because she roughed him up earlier that night, but why
would she have to be Lady X or why would Lady X even have anything to
do with it?
Another thing, after Lex leaves the police station,
Lt. Walker is following her in his car...for no reason. He makes
himself stand out like a sore thumb and is easily spotted by the
vixenish supermodel. Then when he discovers his cover is blown,
he still chases her! Why? If she was going to do something
suspicious, the realization that the cops are watching her would change
that. But this whole pursuit opens the movie up for a cool car
chase scene with Lex's new Corvette and the cop's 1970s car (in
surprisingly good shape and bright green). It's cool to see, but
there's no reason for it.
It seems that the whole romance between Lex and
Walker is forced and cliche. At one moment, Lex despises him and
thinks he's incompetent. The next time she sees him, she gets
designs on the hard-boiled cop. Then they're the best of buddies!
Well, Lex finds out from Walker that Tommy (the dead
club owner) was really operating the club as a front for the Russian
Mafia. Tommy's bodyguard and hitman Johnny Lee, a short Chinese
man with a ponytail and likeness for wearing nice suits and flashing
his guns, was told by Tommy's superiors to kill Lady X (because after
all, she HAD to be the one who did it). Anyway, the copycat Lady
X strikes again and kills a Russian gangster named Yuri. This
time she leaves behind a metal X as a calling card. After the
cops arrive, Johnny Lee waits on a rooftop with sniper rifle, ready to
blast Lady X when she comes back. Why the heck would Lady X come
back after she already killed Yuri? But, that was the hitman's
way of thinking. Anyway, the real Lady X sneaks around and
investigates the crime scene. When she leaves and takes off her
mask, that's when the spying hitman discovers Lex is really Lady
X. So he strongly suspects Lex of killing Tommy and Yuri, but
doesn't shoot her. Why? I dunno. But it seems he much
rather wanted to wait in Lex's car and freak her out in the parking
Lex explains that there is a copycat Lady X and why
she couldn't have killed Tommy. Johnny Lee kind of halfway
believes her, and now they're like buddies. They go to Chinatown
and hide out. Evidently the Russian gangsters are displeased with
the Lee's performance and Lady X, and plan to kill them both.
They're found in Chinatown and a big fighting and shooting bonanza
takes place, allowing us to see the hitman shoot his guns and Lady X to
rough up the other guys.
The copycat Lady X places a phone call to another
Russian gangster she wants to kill. Somehow, the hitman knows
about this and him and Lady X wait on an adjacent rooftop for the
vicious killer female. I guess she only sneaks around on
rooftops. She can't go up the elevator or anything else?
Also, why is Johnny Lee trying to protect the gangster? The
Russian Mafia just tried to kill him! Anyway, the real Lady X
slides down on a cable (a fun scene, by the way) over to the other
rooftop and fights with the copycat Lady X for awhile. Lady X
discovers that her friend Shannon is the fake Lady X. Everything
is cool until the hitman comes up the ladder to the rooftop. He's
going to kill Shannon until she flees by jumping onto the cable.
Unfortunately for Shannon, the cable loosens and she falls to her death
on the street below.
Now Lady X and the hitman are no longer buddies, and
despite his invitation to flee with him, she refuses and sticks
around. In no time at all, Lt. Walker meets Lady X on the rooftop
and lets her go. He claims he didn't see anyone. Later, in
all the newspapers, Lady X is believed to be dead. Despite the
fact that Shannon's costume was much different than the real Lady X
costume and that existing photographs prove it. Now it seems that
Lex has given up the Lady X identity.
Anyway, Lt. Walker comes to visit Lex and tell her
about Shannon and why she did what she did. This is a good thing
that the filmmakers did, otherwise we wouldn't know why Shannon was the
killer, so that helps clear things up for us. Apparently,
Shannon's kid sister was taken in by the Russian Mafia, warped, and
ultimately killed herself. Shannon went on a revenge spree.
There are two things I'd like to know:
1. Shannon and
Lex were supposed to be good friends. Why wouldn't Lex know about
this? Sure, Shannon could have kept it secret. But if this
happened recently, Lex for sure would have known about it. And...
2. If the death of Shannon's sister happened long ago, why did
she only wait until now, when Lady X came on the scene, to exact her
vengeance on the Russian Mafia? Apparently she always had the
ability and I don't think she needed Lady X as an excuse.
after all is explained, we're left wondering if there is still going to
be a relationship between Walker and Lex or not. But also, we see
that Lex's roommate Jay Davis discovers Lady X's true identity and
wears the costume for fun. Everything is good. Happy ending.
Famke Janssen as Lex/Lady X:
I liked her in this movie. She acted well and looked good.
Definitely a convincing supermodel AND crimefighter. Lex is
basically alone in the world, and her friends Jae, Chang, and Shannon
are all the family she has. Except we barely see Shannon in the
Traci Lind as Jae Davis:
She was Lex's photographer friend and roommate. Traci's a good,
lively actress. Her character Jae is pretty and has a cute
personality. It bugs me, though, when she gets beat up and
hospitalized. She's just too cute of a character to be put in
such a situation. But she always seems to be optimistic, even
when things look their worst. Oh, and she even looks cute with an
eyepatch, but it's a shame that she wears one for the whole rest of the
Clark Johnson as Master Chang:
Lex's tae kwon doe teacher. I like the idea of a martial arts
instructor in a wheelchair. But am I missing something?
This character certainly doesn't look Chinese. And he doesn't
teach Lex anything...just nags at her all the time for wanting to be a
vigilante. Basically, he's just a character thrown in to show us
that Lex has a teacher and a friend. He's not really central to
the story. Clark Johnson gave a good performance, though, for as
little as Chang has to do with the movie.
This movie was promoted as Shannon Tweed having a substantial part, but
don't be fooled! I like Shannon Tweed a lot in her shows, but
she's really just a bit player here. Tweed fans buying this movie
or watching it on TV thinking they're going to see a lot of her are
getting ripped off! She's supposed to be Lex's friend, but we
hardly ever see her in this
movie. Shannon is definitely here for cameo purposes because she
big star. Her character isn't even given a last name! And
that they just named her Shannon...kind of lazy on the writers'
They just had to remind us that this was Shannon Tweed. Shannon
women's self-defense instructor and apparently disgruntled the few
times we see her. It's EXTREMELY obvious that she is the fake
because there are few other women in this show and no one else as
athletic as Lex. I'm surprised Tweed was credited in this
Although she gives a good performance, we see very little of her...less
than most movie actors whose performances are uncredited! But
she was a big name, so for marketing reasons it was just smart on their
part to mention that she was in this movie.
Sean Young as
Mercedes is the sleazy modeling agent. Sean Young is always great
playing those total-b**** roles, and is definitely one of this movie's
highlights. Funny! Meant to be just a passing-through type
for the story, but she is on-screen more than most of the other
players. She definitely had more screen-time and importance than
Shannon Tweed's character, but if you notice in the opening credits,
Shannon Tweed is listed as one of the movie's main stars (although
she's hardly in it) while Sean is put at the very end in a "And Sean
Young" manner. It doesn't mean a whole lot, but it's just
that they did that. She did deserve higher billing, though, but
you're like me you don't really pay much attention to movie credits.
Stephen Shellen as Lt. Eddie Walker:
I like the actor and the performance, but his character in this film
just seems token...just to prove to us that Lex/Lady X has a love
interest. It's not his fault, but I think it would've been better
if he was just a straight-out nemesis for our heroine. The whole
romance thing they attempted just didn't seem to fit.
Von Flores as Johnny Lee:
Tommy Nolan's bodyguard/hitman. This is perhaps the best
character of the whole movie! He's got a cool attitude and look,
and definitely the most interesting background story...even if we do
have to assume a lot with him. He's a bad guy, but in kind of a
good way as far as bad guys go. Lee is not a real vicious killer,
although he is a killer and does bad things. He could've easily
been made a good guy, but for the plot of the story it worked better if
he was a shady type of character. Oh, and for your information,
the actor is really Filipino, not Chinese.
"Model by Day" comic book
Issue #1, 1994
[Click on image to enlarge]
the Home Video:
This movie was not a big hit on TV or on home video, which is sad
because it's NOT BAD. Because of the fact that it wasn't
within itself, the people who designed the home video box had a lot of
creative liberties. The cover still looks great, but they're
completely ignoring the movie. Now, I'm wondering why they just
didn't show a picture of Famke Janssen in the sexy purple Lady X
What they did is show a picture of sexy blonde Shannon Tweed (who
barely had a part in this movie) in the forefront with a picture of an
anonymous costumed model high-kicking in the background. She
didn't even dress in the movie like she did on the cover! Ms.
Tweed was the one they really thought would sell it for them if they
mentioned her. She's a great actress and I like her in movies,
but don't think that you're going to see very much of her in this
movie. It's a trick! And not only was the woman in the back
NOT in this movie, the costume is NOT even close to looking like the
Lady X costume.
Some of the things about the home video version of this movie that you
didn't see on FOX-TV when it aired back in 1994 is that there are a few
scenes of female nudity and one part where the Tommy Nolan character
says the F word. Other than that, I think everything is the same.