SEA WOLVES (aka IN THE LINE OF DUTY 7) (1991) short review

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Sometimes marketed as the 7th installment in the In The Line Of Duty franchise (and indeed, 90% of Cynthia Khan’s filmography could be from that franchise), Sea Wolves actually puts an emphasis on Gary Chau (a D&B Films protégé whose career never took off) and Simon Yam, as two Vietnamese friends separated by fate after emigrating to Hong Kong: Yam joins a gang of modern-day pirates who prey on Vietnamese boat people (how is that a logical step for a Vietnamese immigrant?), while Chau loses his sister in a pirate raid by that very same gang, subsequently finding himself stranded in Hong Kong, deprived of his memory by a nasty fall on his head. Cynthia Khan comes into play as a tough female cop on the trail of the pirate gang, and Norman Tsui adds another fine bad guy to his scintillating repertoire of villainy. For one hour the film noodles around pleasantly but unfortunately not thrillingly, with some tame comedy and slightly overwrought drama, but also thankfully the welcome grit and efficiency that can be expected from those late eighties, early nineties action films churned out by the D&B film company. Ultimately though, only the ever-reliable Simon Yam, the beautiful Cynthia Khan and a brutal, thrilling final action scene on a boat elevate Sea Wolves slightly above mediocrity. **1/2

BADGES OF FURY (2013) review

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With Jackie Chan celebrating his filmography’s milestones by adding new installments to his most successful franchises, and Donnie Yen getting busier than ever on a variety of action-heavy projects, it’s puzzling to see the wildly different turn Jet Li’s career has taken. Choosing, admirably, to focus on his charity (The One Foundation) and his Tai Chi promotion (Taiji Zen), he has been content for a few years now to appear as a benevolent supporting actor (though always top billed) in films that woefully underuse him both as an actor and as a martial artist. Badges of Fury unfortunately continues that disappointing trend. The real lead here is Wen Zhang, as a cocky young cop who, paired with veteran Jet Li and under the supervision of superior officer Michelle Chen, investigates on a series of murders in which the victims all die with a smile on their face. They cross paths with a stuttering insurance agent (Wu Jing), a whimiscal mob boss (Leung Kar Yan), a Men In Black type supercop (Huang Xiaoming), and many other cameoing stars, but the murders all trace back to an actress who has dated all of the victims (Liu Yan), and her sister (Cecilia Liu) who has made a habit out of stealing her boyfriends.

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