MADAM CITY HUNTER (1993) short review


Bearing not even the faintest connection to the famous City Hunter character which received its Jackie Chan-starring film adaptation the same year, Madam City Hunter is a bafflingly-scripted action comedy in which a tough police officer (Cynthia Khan) is framed for murder and takes advantage of her suspension to investigate on her shady young stepmother (Kara Hui), who may be a venomous gold-digger with ties to the mob. She is helped by her love-struck commissioner (Tommy Wong Kwong-Leung) and a private investigator (Anthony Wong Chau-Sang) and his hyperactive girlfriend (Sheila Chan). It’s a film that noisily goes nowhere, a string of lazy gags peppered with bouts of fairly inspired action (Yuen Woo Ping produces and had a hand in the fights). The trite comedy balances between playing ground-level hijinks and viagra jokes. Still, outside of the scant fight scenes, the film’s one redeeming aspect is its cast: Cynthia Khan may not be quite at home in that kind of comedy, but Anthony Wong Chau-Sang is always eminently watchable, Kara Hui ramps up the sexy and has a lot of fun, and Tommy Wong Kwong-Leung is enjoyably cast against type as Khan’s swooning, well-meaning superior officer. A fun film, in an obnoxious way. **


IN THE LINE OF DUTY 5 : MIDDLE MAN (1990) review

Some say the In The Line Of Duty franchise started its decline with this fifth installment, directed by Cha Chuen Yee in 1990, a time when the Girls With Guns genre was starting to recede to alternative Asian film industries like Taiwan or the Philippines. It’s true that while it has been the common lot of the films of this franchise to have mostly disposable plots, the story in In The Line Of Duty 5 is particularly uninspiring and trite. It involves things such as the CIA, a marine on leave and drug dealers, all intertwined in the least interesting ways possible. At the center of these wholly uninteresting goings-on is, again, the endearing Cynthia Khan, who it must be said got more and more credible as an ass-kicker with each installment.


IN THE LINE OF DUTY 3 (1987) review

In 1987, Michelle Yeoh having gone on an early retirement, a novice by the screen name of Cynthia Khan was brought in by the D & B film company to fill her shoes as the star of the In The Line Of Duty series. The first one, Yes Madam!, was directed by Corey Yuen and paired Yeoh with Cynthia Rothrock in a wildly uneven film that was more of a madcap comedy until the bone-crunching finale. The second one, Royal Warriors, was directed by David Chung and was a vast improvement, a blistering action movie in the best eighties’ Hong Kong cinema tradition. In The Line Of Duty 3 (also known sometimes with the subtitle Force of the Dragon), is directed by Brandy Yuen and Arthur Wong, the latter being better known as the ace director of photography of countless classic Hong Kong films.


IN THE LINE OF DUTY 4 (1989) review

  The second of three urban action thrillers Yuen Woo-Ping and Donnie Yen collaborated on as director and star, In The Line Of Duty 4 is also, you guessed it, the fourth installment in a franchise that only has vague thematic continuity between its installments. The first two In The Line Of Duty films starred Michelle Yeoh and are also known as Yes Madam! and Royal Warriors. For the third film, Yeoh pulled out and was replaced with Cynthia Khan, who introduced the character of Rachel Yeung, which she reprises in this fourth film.

Cynthia Khan emerged as a replacement for Michelle Yeoh in the series and in Hong Kong cinema in general, after Yeoh went on an early and temporary retirement at the end of the eighties. She is just as beautiful and has the same tomboyish style as eighties Michelle Yeoh, but the difference is she is often replaced with an obvious stunt double in the trickier action scenes. Still, she is a charismatic and charming presence, and it’s a pity she vanished from the mainstream in the mid-nineties. Here she is paired with Donnie Yen (then at the beginning of his career and still a protégé of director Yuen Woo-Ping) and they play two cops investigating a drug-trafficking network with possibles international ties. They wind up having to take care of an innocent dock worker (Yuen Yat Chor) who witnessed a murder that is pivotal to the case, and questioning the loyalty of colleague Wong (Michael Wong), who might be playing both side.


BLADE OF FURY (1993) review

  Blade of Fury is a peculiar film within the abundant filmography of Sammo Hung Kam-Bo, the director : it was an assignment he took to help Lo Wei, the once-prominent director of two Bruce Lee films, Big Boss and Fist of Fury. Now fallen from grace, Lo Wei needed a well-established director badly to step up and direct this Wu Xia Pan during the early-nineties craze for the costumed epics. In came Sammo Hung, but serendipitously, the plot for Blade of Fury is said to have deeply echoed Hung’s personal beliefs, which he seldom got to express in film, given the often lighter tone of his other films as director. In the film, the legendary Ti Lung plays Tan Szu-Tung a government official travelling to Beijing with his disciple (Cynthia Khan), where advancement awaits him. On the road he meets Wong Wu, a lone swordsman (Yeung Fan), who helps him thwart a bandit raid. It’s the beginning of a friendship that will lead to the two joining forces to try and implement reforms in imperial China.


TIGER CAGE 2 (1990) review

In the eighties, director and martial arts choreographing god Yuen Woo Ping was trying to push forward in the limelight one of his most gifted disciples, Donnie Yen. First, Yen worked for Yuen as a stuntman, then the pair collaborated on three urban action films under the banner of the ill-fated D&B Films Company: Tiger Cage, In The Line Of Duty 4 and Tiger Cage 2. The latter only has a vague thematic kinship to Tiger Cage: it is not properly speaking a sequel, as Donnie Yen doesn’t even play the same character. Or does he? The truth is, in those late-eighties thrillers Yen always played more or less the same character: a tough, naively macho cop, with an almost childish inability to properly communicate with women. Here he is surrounded with a fairly interesting cast including Shaw Brothers legend Lo Lieh, future Once Upon A Time In China star Rosamund Kwan, the highest-paid actress in Hong Kong (at the time) Carol “Do-Do” Cheung, as well as the Michelle Yeoh-wannabe Cynthia Khan and Robin Shou of Mortal Kombat fame.