In the Line of Duty I-IV Blu-Ray Review: The Best Hong Kong Films Ever Looked
The In the Line of Duty series is a long running Hong Kong female cop franchise. It began with Michelle Yeoh but continued even more prolifically with Cynthia Khan. Like the Tiger Cage movies released last week, In the Line of Duty films add martial arts and Hong Kong stunts to fairly generic cop dramas, and make them exponentially more awesome.
Royal Warriors and Yes, Madam were Yeoh’s first two action movies and they do not disappoint. Madam even teams Yeoh up with Cynthia Rothrock. Seeing them both kick in ‘80s jeans is stunning. They were also just on the Criterion Channel for Michelle Yeoh month but they look even sharper on 88 Films’ Blu-rays.
In the Line of Duty III gets short shrift because there’s no Yeoh or Donnie Yen in the cast, but Khan is awesome too. She takes over the franchise and she’s only getting warmed up in III. I hope 88 Films releases the rest of the series which are more Khan vehicles, but IV includes Yen too.
The 88 Films set puts Yes, Madam first because it was the first movie to officially get the In the Line of Duty rebranding. In one of his commentaries, Frank Djeng confirms that Royal Warriors was even sometimes called Yes, Madam 2 despite being made first. All these movies keep changing names so who’s to say. The Khan films even get the titles Royal Big Sister III and IV on screen.
These four films are the best I’ve ever seen Hong Kong film look. I’ve seen Dragons Forever and Police Story in 4K and they are amazing, but these Blu-rays look a tad better in the brightness and color. It must be the 2K restoriations that just nailed these transfers.
Yes, Madam includes a Cynthia Rothrock interview. She’s told some of these stories on multiple extras but there is some new stuff about her early competitions, the audition for Yes, Madam and her first on screen experience, including some anecdotes on specific stunts including an accidental kick in the head.
Djeng does commentaries on all flour films. He is a regular on these American release of Hong Kong movies and he’s one of the best. Djeng is full of production background and biographies of the careers of performers, including the voice actors who dubbed them and who doubled certain stunts. No one is too minor, not even a newscaster on TV. And Djeng also knows about locations like the airport that has moved since these films. He keeps the commentaries flowing with information that seems to roll off his tongue rather than reading from notes. I never knew Jumbo’s floating restaurant closed in the pandemic and sank while being transferred. I got to eat there in 2011.
John Sham speaks for 25 minutes about starting D&B, a logo you see on many classics, training Yeoh and changing her surname. Sham also speaks about films not included in the set like Robo-Force and Legacy of Rage.
This time, the booklet included in the box includes more interviews. Read about specific stunts, scenes and how actors behaved behind the scenes from AD Shan Tam and performers Stephen Berwick and Michael Woods. Woods is especially frank as these films are a distant memory to him. The booklet also includes all of the alternate international promotional art for each film, and the reversible covers let you choose between the arguably more accurate 88 Films art and the bonkers original art.