In the Line of Duty 4 (1989) Review

"In the Line of Duty 4" Chinese DVD Cover

"In the Line of Duty 4" Chinese DVD Cover

AKA: Witness
Director: Yuen Woo Ping
Producer: Stephen Shin
Cast: Cynthia Khan Lai Ching, Michael Wong Man Tak, Donnie Yen Chi Tan, Yuen Yat Chor, Liu Kai Chi, Lisa Chiao Chiao, Yuen Shun Yee, Michael Woods, John Salvitti, Stephan Berwick, Farlie Ruth Kordica
Running Time: 91 min.

By Numskull

We all know they don’t make ’em like this anymore, at least not in Hong Kong, so I’ll spare you the rant. I’ll spare you the plot synopsis, too, since the story takes a back seat to the action in this film more so than in almost any other film in the genre. Donnie Yen is a sadistic asshole cop, Cynthia Khan is another cop with no personality, and Yuen Yat-Choh is the everyman. There. You’re informed. And, if you’re worried about series continuity, don’t be, because the ITLOD films have nothing to do with one another, story-wise. (Michael Wong was another cop in Royal Warriors, and a completely different character here… and yes, I am aware that I’ve just implied that Michael Wong actually has the acting skill to make his characters “completely different” in any way that matters, and I’m deeply ashamed of it, so don’t bother pointing it out.)

This is fast-paced, hard-hitting, wall-to-wall martial arts action without apology or pretense. Practically every third or fourth scene contains a fight. Maybe just a little one that’s over before it begins, but still a fight, or perhaps a beating. There’s some notable stunt work, too, like Cynthia’s ambulance stuff. The immense quality and quantity of the action makes the occasional silliness, like hiding the handcuffs from Mom, easily forgivable.

There’s not much else to say, really. This is a superb specimen of Hong Kong’s action cinema golden age. Highly recommended.

Numskull’s Rating: 8/10

By Yi-long

When did it all go wrong!? When did the HK movie industry feel their own movies were lacking in quality and did they decide it would be much better to just cast lame canto-pop singers with a lack of talent for both acting and action; and make Hollywood-style action movies!? It’s a shame that a film industry like Hong Kong’s can make so many lousy movies the last 6-7 years or so… These depressive thoughts and many more entered my mind, after I had finished watching this great action movie by Yuen Woo Ping, starring the amazing Donnie Yen. This is the kind of action which HK was known for, was famous for, will forever be associated with… it’s action every 5 minutes and it’s GREAT!

So it’s a huge shame that nowadays, these kind of movies don’t get made anymore. I don’t know exactly who is responsible for this. It might be the HK audience who decided they had enough of brave stuntmen risking their lives on amazing, unbelievable stunts, and of the leads who actually had talent for on-screen action, or it might have been some dumb-ass executives in a high office somewhere on Hong Kong Island, who don’t know shit about good movies but just think about money and decided movies would make much more cash if they would just make some romantic comedies and CGI-action movies with young pretty people who can barely hold a tone, let alone act.

Ok… on with the review now, cause we pretty much all know about the problems in the HK movie industry nowadays.

It’s a blast! Sure, no one will expect a brilliant story or great acting from this movie. I sure as hell wasn’t. There is only ONE reason you should watch this movie; ACTION! It’s your basic cops story, which starts off in America, but it quickly moves the story back to Hong Kong. It’s about the CIA dealing in some drugs and a innocent chinese guy gets caught up in all of this and thus becomes a target for the CIA. Donnie Yen and Cynthia Khan are also after the guy, because they first think he might belong to the drug-sellers, but they soon find out he was just at the wrong place, at the wrong time; Bummer(!) They soon get help assigned to them in the form of the horrible Michael Wong (famous for having the acting-abilities of a grape-fruit) who soon turns out to be EVIL, and also working for the FBI.

Like I said, story isn’t that important in this movie… it’s all about the action. Let me tell you; It’s GREAT. It’s inventive, fast and varied. It’s the kind of stuff that makes you want you want to be a HK action hero too! We have fights all over the place, we have people jumping from cranes into water, people getting kicked of bikes, bike chases, a fight on top of a driving ambulance, a white guy using some form of CRAZY-FU or whatever (GREAT FIGHT!), a big-ass black guy with a huge body (and a baaaaaaaaad mo-fo-ing moustache), an ugly white chick falling down an elevator shaft and even more. Hell, we even get some sword-fight by Michael Wong(!)

The fight scenes featuring Donnie Yen are some of the best in HK cinema’s history. I haven’t seen Tiger Cage 2 yet, which I have been told to have even superior action, but after this movie, it’s pretty near the top of my wish-list.

I won’t give this a 10 outta 10 or something, cause like I said, it doesn’t have a great story or acting, plus it has Mike in it…  so that would just be wrong. Action-wise it gets a 9 out of 10 from me, primarily because of the great fights by Donnie and the nice stunts, plus it’s fast paced and stuff happens all the time.

Overall, it gets a 8.5/10;It’s one of the best HK-style action movies out there and it’s a real shame movies like these don’t seem to get made anymore.

Yi-long’s Rating: 8.5/10

By Reefer

Hong Kong action fans often praise or pan films based on its action scenes. Based on these criteria alone, In the Line Of Duty IV should be a classic, but it isn’t. Crammed full with acrobatics, kung fu, evil villains, and some amazing stunt work, I never hear fans even discuss it. Poor characterizations are a large part of the disrespect this film receives. Even die-hard fans must find it difficult make an emotional investment in the adventures of a cold, uninteresting female cop (Khan) and surly, abusive American cop (Yen) and Michael Wong (duh?) as they track an innocent HK immigrant (Yuen Yat Chor) accused of murder from the U.S. to Hong Kong.

Yuen Yat Chor’s Luk is really the only compelling character in the whole film and he is unfortunately brushed to the side so that Yen and Khan can bicker like the parents of a precocious child. Luk, as played by Yuen Yat Chor, possesses a likability comparable to that of Jackie Chan, a harmless guy thrown into hazardous situations forced to fight back. Luk would have been a great character on which to center the movie; instead he is used as a plot device to set up the various fights.

And fight they do. There’s a joust on motorcycles between Yen and longtime nemesis Michael Woods. Plus, Yen vs. John Salvitti using what can only be described as spaz-fu. Khan has a great deal of kicking to do here as well along with some very scary stunt work on, in, and almost under a speeding ambulance (inspiration for Michelle Yeoh’s scene in Supercop?). The extensively doubled Michael Wong even gets into the act. Finally, the marquee match-up is a lengthy, ferocious hand-to-hand battle on top of a building pitting Yen against Woods once more. All the fights are fantastic, tireless Yuen Woo Ping trademark brawls that are expertly executed, but unfortunately when they are performed by near-robots like Yen and Khan, nobody cares.

Reefer’s Rating: 6/10

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