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皇家師姐之中間人 (1990)
Middle Man

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 04/04/2007
Summary: jaw-dropping action

In the Line of Duty 5 continues the saga of the feisty female police detective. Cynthia Khan reprises her role for D&B Film's house producer Stephen Shin, who follows the formula he established with his earlier sequels. Ms. Khan has a charismatic screen persona that brings up everyone in the scene with her, which helps David Ng Dai-Wai seem way less annoying than he really is. It's nice to see that Lo Lieh could act circles around some of this cast.

This film is pretty much one jaw-dropping action sequence after another, intercut with lamebrain spy melodrama and some comedic shenanigans that fall flat. Chris Lee Kin-Sang's action direction is the real star of the film. The choreography and camera coverage gave director Cha Chuen-Yee and his editor's outstanding footage to cut together.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 04/25/2006

“In the Line of Duty 5” fails only in comparison with its more illustrious (or at least more entertaining) predecessors. As a late entry during the girls with guns epoch it is a very decent action movie that opens with a memorable action scene, includes an exciting boat chase in the crowded HK harbor and enough gunplay to please the lead bullet manufacturers association. The last fight, between Cynthia Khan and a tough blonde—Cynthia faces off against a number of vicious gweilos—features swords, shards of glass and some terrific punching and kicking. There are some extremely incompetent white CIA guys who are unable to execute a very simple sting operation, letting the target escape with the bait money and getting several of their agents killed. It has a heroic and attractive female police inspector, a bunch of unmemorable secondary characters who clutter up the landscape and a really evil bad guy who steals weapons plans from the Americans and is much more casual in executing traitorous henchman than was, for example, Robert De Niro in “The Untouchables” or Bob Hoskins in “The Long Good Friday”.

ITLOD 5 starts with a bang—Cynthia driving feet first through a car windshield to stop a fleeing killer is a famous scene but her confrontation in a narrow alleyway with the same guy less than a minute later is quite an combination of skill and athleticism—both Cynthia and her opponent—camera work and fight choreography. First she is chasing him and decides to use a handy pipe to vault upwards and run along the wall for a few steps, kicking him as she comes down. She also escapes his attacks by stretching between the enclosing walls, holding herself rigid with by bracing her hands and feet on opposite walls and then “walking” up and back down. But the best stunt of this wonderful series of stunts is when Cynthia pins her opponent’s foot against the wall with one of hers, a new and very effective way to block a kick. And in case one missed it, they did it again a few times during the same sequence.

What is lacking is any sense of plot—the main storyline, involving the General and the CIA starts promisingly but loses energy when David, Cynthia’s cousin appears. He is a Marine buck sergeant who likes to smoke pot, a vice from which Cynthia must save him. The evils of drug use are shown in stark (and ridiculous) detail when a small drug deal goes wrong and results in the death of the cousin’s shipboard roommate, a CIA agent. The subplot further thickens and slows to a glacial pace when the cousin falls in love with May, a bar girl with a heart of gold and a head of stone. Extra credit to Alvina Kong for doing as good a job as possible with this thankless role.

What started promisingly becomes a chaotic mess with the CIA aided by the Hong Kong police, the General’s men and possibly a third group chasing Cynthia and David. May dies in a hail of bullets—they might be the only well aimed shots in the entire movie--David gets revenge be driving a huge truck over the car in which the killer is fleeing and everyone shoots at everyone else. One can compare the beginning of the film, with Cynthia single-handedly (or single-footedly) taking on an assassin fleeing in a car with this bloated ante-penultimate scene in which essentially the same action takes place but involves trucks, cranes and flaming freight containers.

Cynthia utters an unintentionally funny line (at least as translated in the subtitles) a few times when she says that David is innocent “even if he did kill the CIA”, not a good defense for an active duty non-commissioned officer.

Cynthia Khan is very poorly served by the wardrobe department. She is invariably dressed in badly fitting square cut pantsuits that hang from her frame. She looked a lot better in ITLOD 3 when, dressed in the cinematic version of the full regalia of a Hong Kong policewoman she ripped the seams of her hobble skirt up to her hips so she could deliver a thunderous kick to a fleeing robber. She does plenty of kicking in this movie but doesn’t look half as good when doing so.

Cynthia is very fit, exudes athleticism and looks as if she could kick a platoon of villains to death before breakfast. She is a decent actress—although isn’t given much to do in the acting department here—but lacks a certain charisma or spark or something that other female action icons of that period had.

Recommended mainly for several action scenes.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 03/08/2006
Summary: my favourite of the series...

well, i haven't seen 'forbidden arsenal' or 'sea wolves' (although i hear that they're both just as good), but this is great stuff, easily one of my favourites in this series, if not my favourite.

cynthia khan kicks more arse, jumps over more things and gets the baddies. lots of fun, lots of action and very enjoyable.

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 03/06/2002
Summary: Nice stunts

Part 5 of the most popular girls with guns movie series in the world (and one of the most action-packed series in the world) sees US Navy Sailor David Wu take his dopey face on leave in Hong Kong, where he meets up with smiley-faced cousin and intrepid policewoman Cynthia Khan. David's buddy Alan is also there, but we quickly learn that he is not just there for R&R - he's part of an international espionage ring! Or something! Pretty soon Alan's dead, and David suddenly finds that the CIA think he's a spy (and want him dead) and the international espionage ring... want him dead too, for some reason. Somehow Alvina Kong gets caught in the middle, and it's down to Cynthia to get suspended from duty and save the day.

It's not Shakespeare, I'll grant you - but then Shakespeare was a lousy action choreographer. We're not really watching for the plot (although it is an entertaining diversion), and certainly not for the acting (I note with surprise that David Wu appears to still have a career) - we're watching for the action scenes. And in the best 80's HK style, the movie is pretty well loaded with them. Cars get smashed, boats get smashed, enough glass to put windows in 3 skyscrapers gets smahed (mostly by peoples heads), and a fair number of stuntmen doubtless get smashed too. Actually, possibly less stuntmen than the actual cast - Cynthia at least clearly does most of her own stunts, and it's quite a heroic performance. It must be said that Cynthia's martial arts were never as convincing as Michelle Yeoh's, but she does well in the more athletic parts of the action scenes, and always with a clear energy and enthusiasm that lets you forgive the odd swingy-armed punch. The action doesn't have the brutal rawness of Michelle Yeoh's classic performances in ROYAL WARRIORS and MAGNIFICENT WARRIORS, but it's fairly inventive and well choreographed. We get the usual assortment of action set pieces - on a boat, in a construction yard, in the evil bad guy's luxurious mansion etc - enough to satisfy most audiences I'm sure. David Wu seems to be there mostly to get beaten up, which is an added bonus :)

Middle Man is the last of the ITLOD series to be released on DVD so far - the series runs up to 7, but I guess by part 5 the audiences had got a little tired, or the 80's style modern day action had given way to the 90's period fantasies or something. Or perhaps parts 6 and 7 are just crap, haven't seen them. Certainly by part 5 there's a feeling that the genre is getting tired, though. It's not a bad movie, eminently watchable in fact - but pretty much 'same shit, different stunts'. But I can't imagine that many people would watch the movie expecting anything else - so there's no excuse to leave it disappointed :)

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: ryanatpoker
Date: 03/30/2001
Summary: Synopsis

Inspector Yeung's cousin David, and his buddy Alan are in a Hong Kong for some rest and relaxation with their naval group. When Alan is accidentally killed, his secret is let out. Alan was actually a spy, and with David's knowledge of that, David is now a target himself, along with his girlfriend May. The only one that can possibly save him is his cousin Yeung.

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/21/1999

Cynthia Yang replaces Michelle Yeoh in Part 2 of the "In The Line OfDuty" series. A tightly plotted action adventure featuring Cynthia as the super female cop.

[Reviewed by Tai Seng Catalog]