Wednesday, November 7, 2012

In the Line of Duty (1986)



I can honestly say that the one that opened up the Asian cinema for me was Jackie Chan. Yeah, really. It's not that surprising. He's famous, he made some truly spectacular action movies and the team around him, actors and crew, all are stars in their own rights. Through Jackie I also discovered Michelle Yeoh (or Michelle Khan as she was known as on my video tapes at the time),  not only an excellent actress but also a fantastic fighter and stunt person. I don't remember which of her movies I saw first, it could have been Magnificent Warriors or maybe even Supercop (well, it's a Jackie Chan movie, but Michelle is the best in it), but sometime after seeing the great Yes, Madam I saw In the Line of Duty and after many, many years I bought myself a DVD of it (in Germany, this weekend by the way) and watched it again...

Michelle Yeoh is Michelle, a Hong Kong cop who can fight. During a flight the plane is hijacked, but she and her colleague Michael (play by Michael Wong) together with a Japanese Interpol agent, Yamamoto (the always brilliant Hiroyuki Sanada) takes care of the problem - but it leaves them in grave dangers when the hijackers two blood-brothers decides to take a bloody revenge on them! Michael falls in love with Michelle and Yamamoto wants to go home and repair his troubled relationship with his wife, but life isn't easy when professional killers is getting closer and closer...

To quote myself on Twitter: "Royal Warriors w. Michelle Yeoh might be the best martial arts film ever made." Yeah, I used another aka-title there, but it's still the same movie. And today, after having a good nights sleep and enjoyed Obama's speech this morning I will say the same thing. It's up there with the best of the eighties: Police Story, Tiger Cage II, Dragons Forever etc. What's even better with In the Line of Duty is that it keeps itself quite serious, compared to my other favourites up here. Sure, we have Michael Wong being mega-silly as the guy falling in love with Michelle, but even that story ends in disaster and at least Michelle keeps herself serious. But that's it. The rest is a very brutal and bloody revenge-themed story with tons and tons of action, and not just fights - this has everything.

One thing I adore with Hong Kong movies from the eighties is how every car chase ends up on a suspicious abandoned freeway outside Hong Kong where a dozen slightly disguised scrap cars gets tossed around like toys! The stunts are awesome and it looks better and bigger - but still cheaper - than a lot of Hollywood productions from the same time. At the same time the traditionally foot chase after the car chase ends up in gritty, cinematic, Hong Kong back alleys, which makes movies like this almost become surrealistic when it comes to the visual style. In the Line of Duty also delivers a couple of fantastic fights - that hurts! - and an ultra-violent shoot-out at a night club. Squibs, stunts and exploding glass, what more can you ask for?

Oh, and that scene with the chainsaw... it looks dangerous for real. Very impressive stunt-work and like all good Hong Kong actioneers, it looks like it hurts a lot during that fight!

What's even more interesting is how the baddies are portrayed. They aren't just normal, boring, terrorists - they're friends that promised each other to always help each other out - or die together. They do it because of passion and their own fucked-up logic. That makes even their story so much more touching and interesting and it's easier to see why they're just keep going. Because a normal terrorist often just wants money or have some kind of political statement to tell, but these guys just cares about each other. How about that, Hollywood?

I have the German DVD under the title "Ultra Force - Hong Kong Cop" from Eyecatcher Movies. It's a beautiful and uncut transfer, with original language track and English subs. A must in your martial arts collection!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

"I can honestly say that the one that opened up the Asian cinema for me was Jackie Chan."

Yeah...him and Bruce Lee.....those guys have been important.



"but sometime after seeing the great Yes, Madam"

Entertaining flick, Michelle Yeoh is awesome in that one....I always forget her action background when watching drama films like The Children of Huang Shi (2008).


"and enjoyed Obama's speech this morning I will say the same thing."

I was awake this morning....his speech was nice but had same message like last time, very sentimental but better then Romneys formula 101.


"The rest is a very brutal and bloody revenge-themed story with tons and tons of action, and not just fights - this has everything."

More gritty realistic type of cop action....sounds nice.


"Because a normal terrorist often just wants money or have some kind of political statement to tell, but these guys just cares about each other. How about that, Hollywood?"

Yeah, well, you have something similiar in Die Hard (1988) when Karls brother dies.....its gets personal.


Great review ninja, thanks...I hope you will review Du hou mi shi/The Sexy Killer (1976) someday.

Megatron

Thomas T. Simmons said...

One of my all-time favorites. I'm a big fan of the sequels with Cynthia Kahn too. Nice write up, I'm going to have to revisit that now.

Jack J said...

Cool review as always. I've loved these films for longer than I care to remember. Oh, and here's an interesting detail: the only real "In the line of Duty" film is part 3! All the other films are re-titled films. How's that for weirdness; a series were part 3 is the only true entry to the series. But that's Hong Kong for ya. LOL.