Made in 1986 but unreleased in America until 1998, Michelle Yeoh's second starring action vehicle (following YES, MADAM in 1985) is a nonstop action classic chock full of terrific battles and exciting stunts. When a gun-toting passenger on an airplane kills several people and attempts to free a prisoner being extradited to Hong Kong, three strangers--former...read more
Made in 1986 but unreleased in America until 1998, Michelle Yeoh's second starring action vehicle (following YES, MADAM in 1985) is a nonstop action classic chock full of terrific battles and exciting stunts.
When a gun-toting passenger on an airplane kills several people and attempts to free a prisoner being extradited to Hong Kong, three strangers--former Japanese policeman Peter Yamamoto (Henry Sanada), airline security agent Michael (Michael Wong), and Hong Kong cop Michelle (Michelle Yeoh)--band
together to kill the prisoner and his intended savior. Later, another criminal (David Lam), an associate of the two on the plane, decides to avenge their deaths by blowing up the wife and child of Yamamoto; the criminal then escapes in a frantic car chase. Yamamoto uses Michael and Michelle to
lure the assassin to a bar, where the murderer is killed in a protracted, violent battle.
Another criminal associate remains. It is revealed that the four men were soldiers who swore an oath of fealty to one another on the battlefield. The remaining criminal snatches Michael and dangles him from a rooftop as bait to catch Michelle; rather than be used, Michael intentionally plunges to
his death. After the funeral, the criminal digs up Michael's corpse and dangles it as bait yet again, bringing Michelle and Yamamoto to an abandoned quarry where they fight with guns, cars, tanks, fists, feet, and chainsaws. Killing the criminal, Michelle and Yamamoto escape as the quarry, wired
by the criminal, explodes.
Nominally an ensemble piece for the three heroes, the film is actually a showcase for the dynamic Ms. Yeoh, tailored specifically for her by D&B films, owned by her then-fiance, multimillionaire Dickson Poon. She kicks it off (literally) by thrashing some Japanese thugs in an unrelated prologue,
and ends by rescuing her pals (one of whom is dead!) and killing the villain. Henry Sanada, a martial arts star in Japan, fares second best, both in his well-choreographed fights and his dramatic scenes as a hardboiled cop-cum-family man. Amerasian Michael Wong is a good-looking but wooden actor,
utilized convincingly as a good-looking but wooden playboy. Playing a character imaginatively named Michael Wong, he tries at one point to bluff the criminal and is told "your acting is rather bad"--the picture's biggest laugh. Often cast as a romantic lead, he's a nonstarter as a martial artist,
and consequently gets wounded early in the film to excuse him from the action. In a peculiarly Asian concept, Yamamoto and Michelle don't really like him when he's alive, but once he's dead, they'll risk their lives for his mortal remains.
David Chung, a cinematographer-director who worked on numerous classics including Tsui Hark's DANGEROUS ENCOUNTER OF THE FIRST KIND (1979), offers a nice understated style, building not only excitement but genuine suspense, a rarity in Hong Kong filmmaking. Yeoh suffered the first of numerous
on-set injuries during a fight scene in this film. Along with YES, MADAM, ROYAL WARRIORS has also been released overseas as part of the POLICE ASSASSINS and ULTRA FORCE series, and as IN THE LINE OF DUTY (its title on the current domestic print of the film), the first in a long-running and
confusingly numbered series of female action flicks from D&B. (Graphic violence.)