Screen Reviews
In the Line of Duty: Royal Warriors and Yes, Madam!

In the Line of Duty: Royal Warriors and Yes, Madam!

directed by David Chung, Cory Yuen

starring Michelle Yeoh, Cynthia Rothrock

88 Films

The In the Line of Duty series ran for seven films from 1986-1991 and helped to launch the careers of Michelle Yeoh (Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997) and Cynthia Rothrock (China O’Brien, 1988) and cement the “girls with guns” film cycle in Hong Kong. Depending on your point of view, either Royal Warriors or Yes, Madam! originated the series. Yes, Madam! was made first, but Royal Warriors was the first to get exported, leaving Yes, Madam! to become In the Line of Duty II. Apart from Michelle Yeoh, the films are very different, and it would be easy to not even realize they are part of the same universe.

Royal Warriors
courtesy of MVD Entertainment
Royal Warriors

In Royal Warriors (1986), three very different cops are forced to work together to uncover a deadly plot after they foil an airline hijacking. A group of Vietnam veterans (they are Chinese, but are clearly intended to be American G.I.s) not only operate a criminal enterprise but also have a blood oath to avenge any member’s death. When three members of this quartet get taken out by our heroes, the lone survivor is on the hunt and none of the cops or their families are safe. Despite some lighthearted moments, Royal Warriors plays the action mostly straight, with some memorable set pieces, especially the early battle with hijackers on board a midair 747 full of innocent passengers.

Unlike Royal Warriors, Yes, Madam! (1985) relies more heavily on comedy, much of which relies on Cantonese wordplay and celebrity cameos, which are a difficult sell to Western audiences, but the physical comedy sticks. When a trio of inept petty criminals unwittingly steals a microfilm wanted by the mob, they find themselves pursued by a relentless hitman while being used as bait by Senior Inspector Ng (Michelle Yeoh) and Scotland Yard Senior Inspector Carrie Morris (Cynthia Rothrock). The oddest thing about Yes, Madam! is how little time the film actually spends with Yeoh and Rothrock, as director Corey Yuen is far more invested in his trio of bumbling crooks who find themselves thrown into the deep end of the crime world. It is a shame, because in the final battle, Yeoh and Rothrock really get to shine, with both women showing their skills. Yeoh was trained as a ballet dancer before making the switch to action and martial arts, whereas Rothrock was a decorated martial arts champion in various forms before Hollywood, err, Hong Kong beckoned.

Yes, Madam!
courtesy of MVD Entertainment
Yes, Madam!

Kicking off their run of In the Line of Duty Blu-ray releases, 88 Films has produced two striking discs for Royal Warriors and Yes, Madam!. Both discs have gorgeous picture and sound and an impressive array of extras, including Cantonese and English dubs and audio commentaries by the always reliable and impressive Asian film historian Frank Djeng. Both of these releases are musts for fans and the curious alike.

88 Films


Recently on Ink 19...

Best of Five

Best of Five

Screen Reviews

Not everyone can be excited by blocks spinning on a screen, but if you are, Ian Koss recommends you pay attention to Best of Five.

CAKE

CAKE

Event Reviews

Jeremy Glazier shoots a CAKE headline show at McGrath Amphitheater.