Royal Warriors (In the Line of Duty)

Michelle Yeoh continues here as basically the same character from Yes Madam. The action is nearly non-stop allowing the audience only occasional respites to catch their breath until it is on to the next action scene. In the initial scene that takes place in Tokyo, Michelle gets involved when she spots a gang chasing after a youth and trying to do him major body damage. She intervenes of course and in a wonderfully choreographed sequence shows astonishingly graceful moves in combating the gang with umbrella and kicks.
Yeoh and Sanada
Soon she is on a plane back to HK with Michael Wong as airplane security and Henry Sanada (famous Japanese action star) as a passenger going to reconcile with his wife. Michael Chan is being extradited back to HK and a cohort frees him (with the usual easily smuggled on arms). Michelle, Michael and Henry deter this in another wonderfully staged scene and both hijackers are killed. They come home to a hero's welcome, but unknown to them, two former army friends of the two dead men decide to go after the threesome for revenge. And that's the plot. It doesn't get much simpler than that, but the action is brutal and intense and in the finale Michelle's one on one with the villain (Pai Ying) is almost painful to watch.
A terrific action film that displays to great advantages the amazing fluidity of Michelle's athletic prowess. Only Michael Wong's annoying character (if he brought Michelle flowers one more time I wanted to see him strung up and dropped from a high building) detracted from this film.

My rating for this film: 8.5

Yeoh and Wong

Reviewed by YTSL

Michelle Yeoh has sometimes been labeled as the female Jackie Chan. Although she does not share his tendency to mug for the cameras (more often than not, she tends to have the "straight man" role -- one which she has done to perfection in such primarily goofy fare as "Holy Weapon" as well as "Supercop"), the sobriquet does appear to be well earned when one considers that she excels at action and stunt work as well as tends to have a clean-cut film persona.  Also as with Jackie, she seems to be willing to take big risks and sacrifice a lot in the name of moviemaking; so much so that her fans often remember her movies not only for what she did in them but also what happened to her while filming them.

For example, ROYAL WARRIORS is the D&B production in which the actress dislocated her shoulder (Rick Baker wrote in "The Essential Guide to Deadly China Dolls" that:  "The stunt coordinator had one of the guys kick her so hard it made her fall badly, knocking her shoulder out.  The pain was so bad that it kept her awake for seven nights, and during this time she was filming continuously" (1996:98-99)) and got burnt (as opposed "Wing Chun", where she fell off a horse and hurt her back, etc.).  Not unrelatedly, this 1987 movie -- which has also been released as IN THE LINE OF DUTY, POLICE ASSASSINS and ULTRA FORCE 2 -- is one of the most action-packed movies I have ever seen:  We're talking here about four major fight sequences, three others that are only "minor" in terms of this movie, a car chase and a dramatic drop from a tall building; most of which involves Michelle Yeoh much more so than her co-stars, Henry Sanada and Michael Wong.
With this much action jammed into it, one has to expect that this 85 minute long film is not going to have that much of a plot and that what story it has will be a pretty straightforward one.  In this context, the fact that Henry Sanada's character is actually provided with a wife and child, Michael is shown to be attracted to a not very interested Michelle (the names of the characters as well as the actors who play them!), and the villains of the piece are actually endowed with some sense of loyalty and honor is actually quite amazing as well as commendable!

Frankly though, one would be extremely misguided and consequently disappointed if one were to choose to view this movie for anything other than intense, startling, cool AND hot kick-butt action (and primarily by
a woman; though Sanada is definitely not a slouch in the martial arts department).  IMHO, all the fighting sequences in this film were very creatively choreographed and immensely well executed.  Sanada has swift power moves that I have grown to appreciate the more times -- I've lost count but it must be at least ten! -- I watch this movie.

Still, in all honesty, it is those action scenes that involve Michelle Yeoh that really stand out for me.  A dance-style fight in Tokyo is closely followed by a tight and tense battle on board a plane (at some point of which the action goddess pushes into motion and then jumps over a drink cart!).  A car chase segues into a gritty fight in an alley and another at a construction site.  A short battle on a boat is followed by a long and spectacular sequence in a crowded nightspot.  The viewer may feel exhausted by all these but still needs to brace him- or herself for the absolutely ferocious climactic brawl in the shack.  Along the way, the heroine gradually and understandably yet breathtakingly evolves from a cutesy pie dressed in white and light blue to a vengeful warrior whose clothing is as black as her mood.
Michael Chan, Lin Wei (?) and Pai Ying - the bad guys
Lest it still not be clear, Michelle Yeoh MAKES this movie and makes one her fan.  If this dancer by training never made another movie, her ROYAL WARRIORS work alone would have made and sealed her rep for good.  Not bad at all, for what was only a former Miss Malaysia's third film and second action outing ever.

My rating for the film:  9.