A Hong Kong cop and two American cops are onto a suspected harbor worker and are forced to team up when they discover that the suspect is a witness on the run from CIA agents and their schemers; two corrupt cops.
Two detectives who are up to their necks in trouble and in each other's face, as they try to shut down a drug-trafficking scheme that could be connected with international ties to organized crime. But in the mist of their investigation, innocent immigrant dock worker Luk Wan-Ting gets caught up in the mix when he witnesses the murder of an intelligence operative and is framed for the crime. After escaping police custody and after his friend is brutally killed by hired assassins in search of a film negative that Luk lost, he has no choice but to return to Hong Kong until the heat cools off. Donny and Penny Yeung are called in to extradite him with the aid of Captain Michael. Penny believes that Luk is innocent and tries to do everything in her power to help him, while Donny who is skeptical about Luk's innocence, thinks he's guilty and does his best to snap the cuffs on him. As the two do more investigating, they learn that the drug cartel could have connections with rogue C.I.A. ... Written by
Keno Reeves (spywatcher459)
When Michael Woods is fighting Donnie Yen on the roof and holding him in an arm lock, Woods head is originally to the right of Donnie's. In the next shot, it has swapped to the other side to be kicked. See more »
[Donny is about to shoot Luk who is escaping, but Madam Yeung stops him]
What are you doing?! Damn it, what are you doing trying to save that jerk?!
Because he hasn't been convicted of anything. He's still only a suspect.
Look, don't gimme that shit! That guy's a criminal! Are you crazy?!
See more »
Between 1984 and 1991, after the demise of the traditional kung fu film, and before things really started going downhill with excessive wire-work, Hong Kong action movies moved through a kick-boxing phase which introduced more pragmatic fighting but retained some old-school sensibilities. Of all the films produced in these five/six years "Witness: ITLOD 4" is hands down the best. Here's my reasons why:
the pacing is superb. You watch action films for action - and Yuan
Ho-Ping,as is his wont, keeps the movie going at a breathless pace with a fight or chase almost every five minutes.
Yuan Ho-Ping uses his strict rhythmic parameters so the action is
clear and we can enjoy every movement. Some classical moves are dropped in just to make the action a little prettier. Long shots and close ups are used when appropriate and to give variety - all typical Yuan Ho-Ping trademarks and this is what sets him apart from inferior filmmakers in the genre. He also introduces some great novelty fighters
the female foreign fighter who looks like an English teacher with a
heroin habit, the crazy eyed foreigner in the alley with the eccentric fighting style and of course Michael Woods.
The syncronisation of the action and sound effects is SO crisp here
and the sound effects have never sounded better - deep body blows and crisp "pak" sounds - music to my ears!
The soundtrack music is superb! A little bit like the repeated theme
of "Halloween" - it's icy and sinister - a delicious backdrop for the brutal and surgically precise action. There's a way that the theme anticipates the action in the way that a repeated theme introduces particularly nasty sequences in a Lucio Fulci film.
Silence accompanying action. I love the way that characters roll
over, across in and out of cars and buildings in silence. It may not have been a deliberate device - but the fact that HK films are shot silent and then dubbed later sometimes results in some very interesting dynamics.
You enter into a world of claustrophobic and relentless brutality -
which slips in and out of a cartoon universe where people take beatings with tire-irons and walk away intact one minute, and end up bleeding and lifeless in lift shafts in another. Yet in this icy universe of remorseless violence there are moments of compassion - for example when the "witness" is allowed to visit his mother - but this touching scene is, once again, abruptly terminated and violence resumes.
On top of the best action you will ever see, there are also the qualities to the film I have listed above. This all results in a quite extraordinary film with a very distinctive feel and ambiance. It's strange - I've never experienced the same kind of quality with any other Hong Kong film. When I first showed this to friends they demanded repeat viewings - it's like a roller-coaster ride that leaves you craving yet another adrenalin rush.
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