Royal Warriors (In the Line
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
My rating for the film: 9.