In the Line of Duty III (1988)
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Against the bland, CGI-driven Hollywood action flicks of the Noughties, a film like IN THE LINE OF DUTY 3 looks like an artifact from another planet.
Everything you see was done for real. Every sequence was staged by stunties who risked their lives.
There is an amazing relationship between two Japanese lovers (Michiko Nishiwaki and Stuart Ong) in this mind-blowing film. Ong is dying of leukeamia, and in one scene, they make love while Ong's hair comes off in Nishiwaki's hand. Later, after Ong is killed, Nishiwaki vows a brutal revenge that we clearly understand because we've been intimate with them.
It is this kind of attention to nuance that lifts this Arthur Wong-Brandy Yuen-directed pic to classic status.
Cynthia Khan, debuting as D & B Films' replacement for Michaelle Khan, does a terrific job as a cop assaulted at ever juncture by the murderous villains.
A sequence involving a jewellery heist is one of the best of its kind and possesses a kineticism rarely seen in any films these days.
Ditto an incredibly violent and realistic fight sequence between genre stalwart Dick Wei and Hiroshi Fujioka's hardcore cop.
Relentless, operatic and explosive.
In a bloody beginning, a pair of stylish Japanese thieves steal some valuable gems. In a harrowing scene, during their escape, they kill the partner of a ruffled detective (think Columbo with a Chuck Barris hairdo). The detective swears revenge, and the thieves played by the athletic and lovely Michiko Nishiwaki and her terminally ill partner/lover played by Stuart Ong plan on going to Hong Kong, sell the loot, and buy weapons for the Red Army. All the while Cynthia, a rookie cop in Hong Kong, tries to get in on the action of the task force she has been assigned to, but unfortunately her superior is her uncle who wants to keep her out of harms way. The Japanese thieves and the detective trailing them, all make their way to Hong Kong, and Cynthia ends up entangled in the same mess with the detective, trying to bring the cold blooded and desperate thieves to justice. People on both sides are killed, leading to crossed paths of personal revenge, everyone out for each others blood.
The action, typical of the genre, is fast, bloody, and brutal, both Cynthia and Michicko are firecrackers and, in addition to being very easy on the eyes, display some great kicks and punches. The fight scenes, particularly the finale, are directed in a rapid paced, blink and you'll miss it fashion, with shots edited so that someone will be falling down from a punch, then in the next shot they are already up and spinning a kick against the opponent (any kind of reaction or recovery shot is gone, its just kick, punch, kick). Highly entertaining film.
The plot of the movie was okay. It wasn't too simple or complicated. Cynthia Khan's training as a police officer justifies her entry into the "In The Line Of Duty" series. There really isn't a strong supporting cast except the Japanese cop that helped her trail the baddies. Great comedy supported the movie and her crazy overprotected uncle was stupid funny.
The action scenes for the movie were choreographed by Brandy Yuen, who is Yuen Woo Ping's sister. When I found that out, I was sure that the movie was going to have some hardcore action scenes in them. The warehouse boat fight scene was raw and gritty. The Japanese cop and the Japanese fugitive duked it out like stone cold street fighters. As the movie progresses and gets deeper, the action gets better. Cynthia Khan versus the baddies, a fight to the death!! Watch the movie and find out who inflicts devastating injuries.
Overall, great entry for Cynthia Khan into the series. In my opinion, the 2nd best in the series. I wish Cynthia would make more action movies these days, but the industry is saturated with too many fake action stars (Matrix AARGGHH!!).
Final Judgement: ****/****
FORCE OF THE DRAGON is a high point in a series packed full of them. In fact, the first four films of this series are simply great, and this one has more intense action scenes than in many a rival Hollywood flick from the time. Khan and her allies (including Hiroshi Fujioka as an imported Sonny Chiba-alike, complete with '70s hair do) go after a couple of Japanese jewel thieves who have nefarious plans to smuggle arms to Japan's Red Army.
It's pretty much wall to wall action here from beginning to end, and it's expertly choreographed by Brandy Yuen, one of Yuen Woo-ping's brothers. Although the action is near non-stop, none of it ever feels tiresome or repetitive, and instead it remains electrifying throughout. The fights are incredibly hard-hitting and the use of wirework to show characters being tossed around like rag dolls is very effective.
Fans of Hong Kong cinema will spot plenty of familiar faces here, including Melvin Wong and cameos from three of the LUCKY STARS performers, but best of the lot is Dick Wei in another villain performance. Wei is the most intense and violent I've seen him yet in the fighting stakes, leading to an incredible climax that has to be seen to be believed.
The bad guys in this movie are three members of the Red Army from Japan. They make a deal with a Japanese jewellery king and rob one of his exhibitions. During the flight, the partner of a cop is killed, and he vowels vengeance. They flee to Hong Kong, but discover that the jewellery is fake, and vowel vengeance on the jewellery king. The cop also travels to Hong Kong to deal with these terrorist.
Once again, this seems to follow a theme of Hong Kong movies: the police are very friendly to each other, to the point of incompetence: all except for Cynthia Kahn, who simply wants to be on the team. In a nutshell, this is a fairly good movie - the action, martial arts and everything else is there, but it is quite standard. I still enjoyed it, but thought Naked Killer was a billion times better.
I think that she's so beautiful. She would be a great candidate for a long shot of her face. Notice the long shot on Shu Qi in Millennium Mambo, or the shorter long shots of her in So Close. Tarentino used that well with Pam Grier in Pulp Fiction. The 8 minute opening of Natalie Portman's face in Free Zone was pure bliss.
The scene at the beginning where she rips her skirt to fight the bad guy, wow.
What I couldn't tolerate was the horrible dubbing. I didn't know they spoke Cantonese in Japan.
The love scene was so HK. I'm from HK. It wasn't sensuous, it wasn't realistic, it wasn't believably passionate. The love scenes in Tampopo were shockingly erotic and passionate. The sex scenes in Korea's Bad Guy made me feel such genuine disgust, but it was real.
Logic, are at least a semi-smooth flow of credible story line, was missing.
That leaves nothing but more Cynthia. I don't know, maybe I'm just gushing. For me, never enough Cynthia.