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Michael Clarke Duncan
An unknown cop-fu film from the choreographer of THE PROMISE and SPIDER-MAN 2, and the star of MORTAL KOMBAT
World-class martial arts champion Robin Shou made a name for himself in the West when he displayed his impressive fight specialties in MORTAL KOMBAT, MORTAL KOMBAT: ANNIHILATION and the action comedy BEVERLY HILLS NINJA but this generally unknown inde Hong Kong film will not meet the expectations of "KOMBAT" fans.
INTERPOL CONNECTION (aka HARD TO KILL) centers on two Hong Kong cops (Robin Shou and Lee Chun Wa) who settle their differences toward one another while struggling to focus on their mission. The unusual dynamic duel go out to track down notorious drug dealer (Phillip Ko-DREADNAUGHT, SECRET RIVALS 2, EAGLE'S CLAW and THE BOXER'S OMEN) but find themselves in a number of unexpected situations. They eventually get help from a beautiful Japanese police officer (played by Japanese martial arts queen Yukari Oshima-ANGEL, SUPERCOP 2, BEAUTY INVESTIGATOR and SHANGHAI EXPRESS) who is skilled in the art of combat, and the three go out to take down the drug lord and his army of gangsters.
Moviegoers of MORTAL KOMBAT will be disappointed when they learn that Robin does not have the Liu Kang persona. The film also switches around to have you think whether it is a workout video, a drama, a comedy or a "Heroic Bloodshed" movie done by a filmmaker whose exposure to John Woo flicks fell below the waist side. These elements featured like a collection of short stories from a documentary that drags the production in the dirt at times.
The movie also falls flat with a recycled "cops-n-robbers" theme from movies, and many unrelated situations come in place that does not fit in properly with the film's concept. However, viewers can overlook some of the film's holes when the fast-flowing martial arts action that takes its turn to allow Robin Shou and Yukari Oshima some room to highlight what they do best.
There's also a downfall with Yukari's presence that viewers will notice because she appears too late in the movie and basically steals the show from Robin as the better performer with her remarkable physical attributes and martial arts skills. Viewers will look directly at her and almost lose complete focus with Robin.
The filmmakers enlisted the aid of legendary Wushu expert and action choreographer Dion Lam (THE PROMISE, SPIDER-MAN 2, EXIT WOUNDS and additional action choreographer for BLACK MASK and THE MATRIX Trilogy) to incorporate lots of realistic combat, which comes full circle during the finale where Robin and Yukari face off against two fighters in a one-on-one showdown. Robin executes some long-range kicks, close range combat and executes an impressive move where he jumps in the air and delivers a nice Wushu-style flying spin kick against his fallen foe. Yukari faces off against a skilled martial artist, on a building rooftop where the two pull off ariel Tae Kwon Do. The two knock down flower vases with spinning kicks while locking their legs to crush sunglasses and battle each other with the staff.
As skilled screen fighters, Robin has the strength of an athlete and the kicking power of a kickboxer while Yukari uses the speed & flexibilities of an acrobat, the weaponry of a Shaolin warrior and the kicking skills of a Tae Kwon Do master. As I said before in all honesty, Yukari steals the show from Robin with her good looks, martial arts mastery and overall performance that outshines Robin like Bruce Lee's did with Van Williams in the THE GREEN HORNET.
Besides the martial arts action, you will get some bad slapstick humor by Robin Shou's partner, played by Lee Chun Wa. Fans of kung-fu movies might recognize this Bolo Yeung-like built figure from kick-flicks like DRUNKEN MASTER, HELL'S WIND STAFF, GAME OF DEATH II, THE FURIOUS and other '70s/'80s fight flicks. He does not play that character type this time but his portrayal as the Philippine cop, King Kong (not the Giant Gorilla) goes from oddball to goof ball with his childish behavior, bad jokes and a few funny lines that will annoy you at times and hardly make you laugh.
It is also worth mentioning that actor Simon Yam (TOMB RAIDER: THE CRADLE OF LIFE, NAKED KILLER and Jet Li's CONTRACT KILLER) gets some limited screen time where his cameo role depicts him as a no-name actor trying to snatch a quick paycheck (in reality).
Overall, INTERPOL CONNECTION was poorly structured and was not the best work of Phillip Ko as a director and actor. Over the years, Ko has established himself as a prolific filmmaker in other independent Taiwanese and Hong Kong productions but this film just does not cut it for him. However, Dion Lam's choreography shined Robin and Yukari's diverse martial art moves and the presentation of the fight sequences evolved a great quality to give fans something to watch and not be discouraged by the poor aspects of the film.
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