In the Line of Duty IV (1989) / Action-Thriller
aka Key Witness
aka Survival
Huang jia shi jie zhi IV: Zhi ji zheng ren

MPAA Rated: R for violence
Running Time: 90 min.

Cast: Cynthia Khan, Donnie Yen, Michael Wong, Yuen Yat Chor
Director: Yuen Woo-ping
Screenplay: Anthony Wong
Review published February 12, 2007

Although he has gained quite a bit of fame for his amazing choreography of the fighting in such excellent films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The Matrix, Yuen Woo-ping has been doing it for a long time.  He even was a leading director in Hong Kong for several films, and In the Line of Duty 4 is chock full of his trademark choreography throughout  In fact, the fighting is so breathtaking, without it ,this film would have been a cheesy ,disastrous bore, with a hackneyed plot and a not-too-erudite screenplay by prolific Hong Kong actor, Anthony Wong (New Tenant, Top Banana Club).  Luckily for us, the action is delivered mightily, and whenever there's a stunt sequence or fight scene, your eyes will be riveted to the screen.

Cynthia Khan (Blade of Fury, Tiger Cage 2) continues her penchant for great physical performing here in her second film in the In the Line of Duty series with some impressive work that mimics, in a good way, her predecessor, Michelle Yeoh.  This one involves a Chinese man (Chor, Drunken Tai-Chi) who works as a dockworker in Seattle before unknowingly becoming the target for the CIA and a crime syndicate when he is seen as the last person who knows the whereabouts of some film negatives implicating them in a drug trafficking deal.  With his life in jeopardy, he sneaks his way back to Hong Kong, where he is followed by three cops (played by Khan, Wong and Yen) who are out to protect his life and also get to the bottom of the drug case. 

Do not even attempt to watch this movie if you are interested in the plot.  This is for action movie purists only.  If that sounds like you, then you will be in for a treat, as In the Line of Duty 4 is every bit as exciting in the action department as you're likely to find in the Hong Kong tradition.  Sure, the film isn't directed with a good sense of continuity or high regard for the laws of physics, but why gripe when there is choreography this good, stunts that will leave your mouth agape, and high-flying moves that take the breath away? 

Cynthia Khan really comes into her own in filling Michelle's shoes, and up-and-coming star Donnie Yen (Iron Monkey, Wing Chun) impresses as her equally talented side-kick.  However, it's Yuen Woo-ping that is the real talent here, and if the writing and drama could have been half as good as the fighting, this would have had a chance to be an action movie masterwork.  It's hard to fault a plot that only serves to introduce more action when done on this level.   A real adrenaline-inspiring work-out.

Qwipster's rating:

2001, 2007 Vince Leo