Also known as SUPERCOP 2, ONCE A COP, and POLICE STORY 4, this exciting 1993 actioner stars Michelle Yeoh in her tough Mainland cop role from SUPERCOP (1992), this time fighting crime in the Crown Colony.
When a Hong Kong security bureau is robbed and their records stolen in a daring daylight raid, policewoman Yang Chien Hua (Michelle Yeoh) travels south from Guangzhou as an advisor to the local police. Recognizing one of the robbers, the cops connect him to a local smuggler whom they follow to the
gang's hideout. A huge firefight ensues, with one of the robbers killed and another captured.
After Yang is feted on TV, she is contacted by her fiance, Cheng Feng (Yu Rong Guang), currently in Hong Kong to make money. What Yang doesn't know is that Feng is the leader of the robbers. In a complicated set-up, he insinuates himself into the graces of the police and engineers the escape of
the captured robber.
Suspecting Feng, the police tail his men to a meeting with bank vault designer Roger Davidson--the real head of the criminal operation--and determine that the robbers' target is the Hong Kong Central Bank. Yang and officer Kuo Shao Lung (Fan Siu-wong) infiltrate the building just before the
criminals seal it off. Once inside, the double-crossing Davidson begins killing Feng's men, then blasts an exit into a subway tunnel. In a climactic confrontation, as Yang and the cops close in, Davidson is shot by Feng but manages to detonate a bomb that ruptures the tunnel. The police escape but
Feng dies in the ensuing flood.
The original SUPERCOP cemented Yeoh's reputation as the top female draw in HK, but lacking Jackie Chan's star-power, the sequel is necessarily smaller in scale, with grittier action and less spectacular stuntwork. Which is not to say the action is anything less that phenomenal. The confrontation
in the gang's hideout--a sort of vertical shootout up and down the tenement stairs and through the maze of apartments--is a textbook example of multileveled storytelling, with planted bombs providing suspense and Feng playing cat-and-mouse with Yang, trying to escape without being seen while
preventing her from being harmed. Even a rather inconsequential car chase is beautifully executed, and the miniature work in the finale is nicely integrated. Unfortunately, the plot demands a little too much suspension of disbelief with its pyramid of coincidences, and it's rather hard to swallow
that when the robbers steal security information for half the city, the police simply throw up their hands and declare it s too big a job to bother informing all the affected companies.
Yu Rong Guang (IRON MONKEY) is a rugged-looking action star who excels at playing tough guys. Unfortunately, he and Yeoh fail to generate any chemistry onscreen. Fan Siu-wong, another would-be action idol (STORY OF RICKI, ORGANIZED CRIME AND TRIAD BUREAU), exhibits some nice moves during his
climactic fight with Dick Wei (the main villain from Jackie Chan's PROJECT A, the film from which this one stole its meaningless title), but the best is saved for Yeoh. Her grace and ability are apparent in her numerous beautifully choreographed action scenes, most notably a fight with a giant
foreigner who tosses her around like a puppet. It's interesting to note that the westerners are duplicitous and backstabbing, while the Asians are all honorable in their own way; even Feng appears to "choose" death before dishonor in the final scene.
Considerably darker in tone than its predecessor, PROJECT S has few moments of humor, none of which seem integrated into the story, but the one that truly stands out is Jackie Chan's cameo. In a tenuously related scene, in which none of the main cast appears, Chan's character from SUPERCOP shows
up in drag, staking out a jewelry store being robbed by a gang led by Eric Tsang, garbed in an identical dress. The scene is played for the broadest laughs, and completely breaks the somber mood of the rest of the film. Having caught the (wrong) thieves, Chan then gets a phone call that he's being
sent to America, the location of his next picture, RUMBLE IN THE BRONX. (Violence, profanity.)
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