The In The Line Of Duty series of films is kind of odd as far as film series go. It’s not like the Zombi or the Italian House series – where you had a bunch of directors taking a bunch of desperate films with common elements (zombies or horror films regarding a house respectively), and sticking the label of an existing series of films on them, making for a bunch of films based around a thematic link instead of a narrative link. The first two films in the series – Yes, Madam and Royal Warriors had a thematic link (women police investigators), and a cast link (Michelle Yeoh), but no character linkage, and otherwise did not share a common brand. However, over the course of re-releases and alternative titles, both of those films were re-branded as being the first part of a series of films known as “In The Line of Duty” – with In The Line of Duty 3, from 1988, being technically the third part of that series, but the first to codify the “brand”.
In The Line of Duty 3 lacks Michelle Yeoh, as at this point she had temporarily retired from acting and had married Dickson Poon, the head of D&B Films (among numerous other businesses). Instead, this film stars Cynthia Kahn, making her feature debut, playing Lai-Ching Yeung, a rookie cop who impresses the boss of the boss of the Serious Crime Section while taking down a robber while also trying to enforce a traffic violation against a misogynist douche-bag. The problem is that the head of the Serious Crime Section is her uncle, Cameron (Paul Chun), who is very protective of her following her parents’ death and wants to keep her out of harm’s way
Unfortunately, the Serious Crimes Section ends up having a very high-profile case that is not conducive to Cameron’s goals – two members of the Japanese Red Army Faction, played by Nishiwaki Michiko and Yung Sai-Kit, perform a daring and incredibly violent diamond heist against a fashion show by designer Yamamoto to get a bunch of jewelry to sell to buy guns. Among the dozens of people who get killed is the protege of Detective Fujioka (played by Fujioka Hiroshi, aka the original Kamen Rider and Segata Sanshiro, sporting the Segata Sanshiro haircut). Fujioka swears vengeance and ultimately ends up teaming up with Lai-Ching to take both of the thieves down.
It’s interesting seeing In The Line of Duty 3 in contrast with Yes, Madam. Both films are the debut films of their lead actresses. However, the two take different approaches to their action scenes. For example, Yes, Madam – by putting a lot of time into the side plot with the group of thieves, helps pare down the number of fight scenes Yeoh and Rothrock are in, so when Yeoh is in a fight scene, it’s often (though not always) against a major heavy, creating a situation where she’s having to take it in addition to dishing it out (similarly to her male counterparts like Jackie Chan). By contrast, Cynthia Kahn’s fight scenes, until the very conclusion of the movie, are generally choreographed to be very protective – she doesn’t get hit much, and what hits she does take she recovers from very quickly. Instead, when a character needs to take a beating to show how dangerous the big bads are, Fujioka is the one who is put in that spot.
Otherwise, the writing in the film is very nicely done. I appreciated the sense of Yeung facing institutional misogyny in society and misguided malicious nepotism from a relative who thinks they mean well. The two thieves are also a solidly written threat, with motivations that work much more strongly than the antagonists in either of the last two films. They’re villainous, but still somewhat sympathetic. You don’t want them to win, but you don’t want them to die either.
In all, it’s a solid first outing for Cynthia Kahn, and I’m interested in seeing her later films.
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