Truth to be told, I haven’t seen a nice not-totally-old-school but still older martial arts flick in ages! So, when I’ve managed to have some time on Friday night (which doesn’t happen as often as I’d like), I’d decided to re-visit one of the moves I’ve seen as a kid in post-commie Czechoslovakia, as this one (and a couple of others) were among the first ones being officially released on VHS.
And if you know something about movies, you know that many times are the same movies presented with different titles, depending on the territory they are released to or other factors. Therefore “In The Line Of Duty) went by the title of “Ultraforce” when released in (then) Czechoslovakia, but it’s also known as “Police Assassin”, “Hongkong Cop” or “Royal Warriors” (and honestly, while the first two titles would go along nicely with the movie, why the hell someone chose the latter, is beyond my comprehension, but what do I know).
Be it as it is, the movie is a classic tale of police action and criminals’ revenge and the reciprocital action from the cops again. Cliché? Of course, but who cares, the movie – despite its few flaws – is entertaining as hell.
Michelle Yeoh (as Michelle Khan, in the role of Michelle Yip) is a tough HK police officer we are introduced right from the beginning fighting two gangsters who want to kill their gang ex-member. And from that initial fight you know (if you haven’t known already, that is) that you are in a treat, as the fight choreography is typical for good HK movie – just great! Michelle is then seen on the plane to Hongkong, and it just happens there is also a criminal being escorted by two plain cloth officers. You don’t have to be Einstein to know what’s gonna happen. Yep, you’re right! A gangster’s accomplice kills the cops and frees his buddy. But wait! There’s more!
Luckily for almost all passengers, there is some help available. Not just Michelle, but luckily, there also is an air marshall Michael Wong (surprisingly, in the role of Michael Wong) and Japanese Interpol agent Peter Yamamoto (played by Hiroyuki Sanada). And what an action we’re gonna witness!
I don’t need to add the evil guys are sent “packing” in the wooden boxes, but that just enrages two other members of their blood brotherhood, as we discover the 4 of them were soldiers who swore to fight together and revenge each other if necessary.
And so the story goes. I’m not gonna spoil the rest of it, just need to highlight an amazing action scene in the California bar, which is just fucking breath-taking. What I like in the Asian production is the fact they don’t shy away from having innocent bystanders or patron killed just for the sake of it – as it provides more realism to movies instead of politically correct and sanitized Western productions.
Now, although I like the movie, it is not without its problems. For one, I quite disliked the character of Michael Wong, it was just fucking annoying. Also the speed of the transition of “we don’t know each other” to “we’re three buddies fighting crime) happened almost immediately, which was just simply laughable.
And the final scenes, although presenting great choreography, left me somewhat entertained for the wrong reason. The explosions along the way the cart Yamamoto and Yip are in are just lame. You know, who would put explosives just next to the cart track and not under it? C’mon, the filmmakers should know better.
But all this can be easily forgiven as the movie itself is a nicely flowing story, the fights and stunts are nice to view even after 30+ years. And let’s be honest, not many movies ages well with time, but this is still watchable. Therefore, if you haven’t seen it, do it – and if you have, go re-visit it.