In the Line of Duty IV (1989)

Rating: A

Dir: Yuen Wo Ping
Star: Cynthia Khan, Donnie Yen, Michael Wong, Yuen Yat-choh
UK title: In the Line of Duty

[12] A variation on the theme of Yes, Madam, that of evidence ending up in the hands of someone who doesn’t know it’s worth. It begins in America, where a policeman taking pictures of a CIA endorsed drug deal is gunned down. Before dying, he passes the film onto an immigrant worker, who soon discovers a lot of people want it. After his brother is gunned down, he escapes to Hong Kong, pursued by Khan & Yen (a classic good-cop/bad-cop pairing), plus another policeman who is an undercover CIA agent.

This is a perfect example of the strengths and weaknesses of Hong Kong action films. The story looks like someone removed massive sections, as things suddenly happen without noticeable explanation. Fortunately, the action is incredible and virtually non-stop, so you don’t notice the holes until about the third viewing. The highlights include Cynthia Khan demonstrating her prowess with nunchaku spanners (cut by the BBFC, naturally!), an ambulance battle where she out-Indianas Harrison Ford, and a final 10 minutes where everyone shows off their fighting skills, though these are only peaks in a distinctly high-altitude movie: given a better plot, this may have been the first kung-fu film to get A+, but as is…

[8: Original review] Those in the know predict Yen may be to the 90’s what Jackie Chan was to the 80’s and Bruce Lee to the 70’s: the martial arts star. On the evidence of this film, they may well be right as it’s serious kick-ass, beating-up-the-drug-dealing-CIA-agents, which keeps the plot zipping along on a stream of incredible action sequences. But never mind Donnie – even more impressive to this novice was Cynthia Khan, known to her friend as ‘Sheer’ (ok, she’s not, I made that up). Forget Cynthia China O’Brien Rothrock, Cynthia Khan (are all Cynthias experts in Martial Arts?) is prettier and a far more entertaining fighter. Perhaps this movie should be retitled The Wrath of Khan… 8/10