1986, Dir: David Chung
1986, Dir: David Chung
Royal Warriors (AKA In the Line of Duty), stars Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) as the imaginatively named super cop, Michelle Yip. On her plane ride home to Hong Kong from a holiday in Japan, Michelle encounters a pair of men terrorising the passengers on this luxurious aircraft. She teams up with two other police officers who happen to be sitting right near her to quell the this pair of villains in violent fashion, getting a few civilians killed in the process. This includes a man who is attempting to take a photo of the action who gets shot with pinpoint accuracy through the camera’s lens. The two men Michelle teams up with are retiring Japanese police dynamo, Kenji Yamamoto, played by Hiroyuki Sanada (Lost) and irritating and also imaginatively named, hopeless romantic cop, Michael Wong, played by Michael Wong.
From the opening scene of this movie, the action rarely lets up. The aeroplane scene is fantastic and chaotic. Just watch as Michelle creatively repairs a breach in the plane and offs a baddie at the same time. Classic.
As it turns out, the bad guys who Michelle, Michael and Kenji disposed of on their plane ride happened to be two members of a small group of old army buddies, who long ago made a pact to kill for one-another or something. So now, back in Hong Kong, our three heroes are being hunted out of vengeance for the fallen brothers of these nasty men. The first to get punished is Kenji, whose loving family inadvertently get car bombed. And right after this touching scene in which Kenji passes his strange wife a slice of toast too.
This leads to an amazing scene at a nightclub where Kenji stages an ambush as his act of vengeance that goes way wrong and results in pretty much a whole room of innocents getting slaughtered. Luckily for Kenji, in Hong Kong movies, massive civilian casualties are rarely dwelled upon. But still one can’t help feeling sorry for those caught in the crossfire, such as this poor elderly couple, who just wanted to take a nice photo.
What I enjoy second-most, after the action of course, in Royal Warriors are the oddball elements thrown in. Most notably the final scene in which, after torturing and killing irritating goofball, Michael, our final villain digs up his corpse and holds it for ransom, as a means of getting Kenji and Michelle to come face him. I can only assume it is after becoming irritated by Michelle’s inflammatory remarks on TV.
This movie is a personal favourite of mine, and a solid entry point for anyone interested in getting into the Girls ‘n Guns subgenre of Hong Kong action film. Hiroyuki Sanada’s brooding performance and martial arts display is fantastic and Michelle Yeoh delivers as always. Michael Wong is also well cast as the infuriating love interest (?) who meets a brutal end, in yet another example of a Hong Kong film showing complete contempt for the comedy relief character. This is something I wish more western movies would do. On top of all this, Royal Warriors contains some great explosions, a totally sweet car chase and even a chainsaw fight. A fun movie for action fanatics like myself.