In the Line of Duty (Wong ga jin si): Special Collector's Edition (1989)

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Released 11-Jul-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Martial Arts Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Stefan Hammond (HK Cinema Expert) & Michael Wong(Actor)
Biographies-Cast-Donnie Yen, Cynthia Khan, Yuen Woo-Ping
Gallery-Photo
Theatrical Trailer-2
Interviews-Cast-Donnie Yen
Trailer-Hong Kong Legends
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1989
Running Time 90:55
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (77:32) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Woo-ping Yuen
Studio
Distributor
Fortune Star
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Cynthia Khan
Donnie Yen
Michael Wong
Yat Chor Yuen
Wing Cho
Farid Dordar
Farlie Ruth Kordica
Blaine Lamoureux
Kai Chi Liu
Simon Loui
Michael Woods
John Salvitti
Shun-Yee Yuen
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music Richard Yuen


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Luk (Yuen Yat Chor) is a dockworker in Seattle who has just gained his residency card. Unfortunately for him he witnesses the killing of a CIA agent by other CIA agents, who are running a drug ring. Thinking that Luk has a roll of negative film which implicates the lead CIA agent in the drug ring, Luk finds himself pursued not only by CIA agents who want to kill him, but by the local police who think he killed the CIA agent.

    Luk flees to Hong Kong, to where he is followed by three Seattle police officers: Madam Yeung (Cynthia Khan), Donny (Donnie Yen) and Michael (Michael Wong). Then follows a long series of action sequences as the cops try to catch Luk, Luk tries to evade capture, and the CIA, aided by an informer in the police, tries to eliminate Luk.

    The original title of this movie is In the Line of Duty 4: Witness. However, the numbering and naming of the movies in the series is a little confusing to say the least. The first film released featured Michelle Yeoh (billed as Michelle Khan) and Cynthia Rothrock as a pair of female cops and was called Yes Madam. It was however a sequel to a film made earlier but released later called Royal Warriors. The third entry in the series was called In the Line of Duty 3 (and Yes Madam 2), and so the first two films were given the In the Line of Duty moniker retrospectively. This third film was the first starring role for Cynthia Khan, who seems to have taken her screen name from an amalgam of the stars of Yes Madam.

    There were several more sequels. In some countries the fifth entry was called In the Line of Duty 2, while a film not part of the series and originally called Queens High has also been called In the Line of Duty 5. There was also Yes Madam! A Serious Shock which is not part of the series despite featuring Cynthia Khan, and the "official" series only goes up to episode 7. Simple. Next I will explain quantum theory. To add to this confusion Hong Kong Legends have chosen to use the UK release title which drops the numbering entirely. No matter, as whatever you call this film it is still one of the best Hong Kong action thrillers ever made.

    There are more fights and stunt sequences per inch of celluloid than in just about any movie you can name, and most are simply incredible. The storyline is not exactly original or interesting in itself, as it is really just an excuse for director Yuen Woo Ping to pile on the action. Donny Yen shows his incredible kicking style in several fights, notably with Michael Woods in a climactic battle on a rooftop, as well as a frantically staged motorcycle chase. Cynthia Khan, not a trained martial artist or stunt woman, certainly looks as if she was. Her most remarkable stunts involve a lengthy chase at speed in, on and under an ambulance, and a fight in a lift well with a blonde female assassin.

    A remarkable action movie that puts the American equivalents to shame. While it doesn't have the story strength or charm of Jackie Chan's best action thrillers, it compensates by having so much action that you can just sit there and marvel at it, and not worry about the plot.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The original aspect ratio was 1.85:1.

    Another solid effort from the Hong Kong Legends team. While the transfer is lacking in fine detail (faces in the backgrounds tend to lose their features), on the whole it is reasonably sharp and clear. The film looks a little dull and lacking in vibrancy, which may have been the original intention or possibly just reflects the quality of the film stock. Colours are not vivid, but they are adequate. It should be noted that colours tend towards reddish hues, as opposed to Region 3 releases which are somewhat greener.

    There are few artefacts. Some aliasing appears from time to time, there is some dirt and there are occasional white flecks. Edge enhancement is present in many scenes. Otherwise the transfer is very clean and is marred only by a small amount of grain.

    Removable English subtitles are provided, which are in clear white text and easily readable. They seem to be well timed with the dialogue.

    The disc is RSDL-formatted with the slightly disruptive layer change placed at 77:32.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is a choice of surround tracks in Dolby Digital 5.1, being the original Cantonese-dubbed soundtrack and an alternative English-dubbed soundtrack. I listened to the original, which is the default track.

    Dialogue is clear throughout, though of course lip-sync is approximate given the film was entirely dubbed. The dubbing is probably a good thing, given that the three stars playing the cops are not Hong Kong natives. Yen hails from Boston, Wong from Canada and Cynthia Khan from Taiwan. The bulk of the effects can be heard from the front speakers, with only occasional rear channel and low frequency effects. The audio sounds slightly dull, probably given the dubbing and the lack of genuine ambient sound and realistic acoustics, but it is good enough for this kind of action flick.

    The music score is quite forgettable but very 1980s. It does not sound particularly Oriental and could easily have been from an American film of the same vintage.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    As usual a solid suite of extras from the people at HKL, though not of the high quality that we are used to.

Main Menu Introduction

    A slightly animated introductory sequence.

Menu Animation & Audio

    The menu is animated with scenes from the film and has some generic think music. On my player the menu did not show where the cursor was, and I could not select any options. Via some experimentation I determined that if I stopped the disc playing, then pressed 3 on the remote, after a couple of minutes of production company logos I would get a usable menu.

Audio Commentary-Stefan Hammond (Hong Kong Cinema Expert) and Michael Wong (Actor)

    Hammond has written some good books on the Hong Kong cinema scene, but he is not the best choice for a commentary. He suffers in comparison to HKL's regular commentator Bey Logan in not knowing enough about the background of the film and the industry to do much more than comment on the action on screen. Even though Wong had not seen this film since it was made, he remembers quite a few details about the people and the shooting. He even recognises his old car which was used in one sequence. This commentary is a bit of a yawn, and would not bear repeating.

Biographies-Cast-Donnie Yen, Cynthia Khan, Yuen Woo-Ping

    The Yen biography is a scrolling text one with narration and runs 22:35. The Yuen Woo Ping biography runs 9:55 and features scenes from his films. It is narrated but has no scrolling text. The Khan biography is a series of text pages only.

Gallery-Photo

    An annoying extra, in that while production stills are used, each has the menu design overlaid on it.

Theatrical Trailers (7:11)

    Two trailers are provided, one being for HKL's DVD release and the other being a very long original trailer with English dubbed voices. It shows far more of the action sequences than is necessary but it does have some scenes from Yes, Madam!

Interviews-Cast-Donnie Yen (19:39)

    An interview with the star who recalls his work on the film, particularly the dangerous stunts he was asked to do.

Trailers-New Dragon Gate Inn, Game of Death, Police Story 2, City Hunter, Once Upon a Time in China 2 (8:20)

    Trailers for other HKL releases.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The UK Region 2 release from Hong Kong Legends is identical to the Region 4.

    An All Regions DVD from Universe in Hong Kong has biographies for the same stars and director as on the Region 4, but has none of the other extras. It does have trailers for three other films in this series and a Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack but no English dub, less than literate subtitles and, worst of all, is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The US Region 1 release from Fox has only a handful of trailers as extras. It has DTS 5.1 soundtracks in both Cantonese and English. Screencap comparisons indicate that the video quality is slightly better than the Region 4, with more realistic colour.

    So, if you want extras, the Region 4 is the one to get. If you want slightly better video and DTS sound, then get the Region 1.

Summary

    A stunning, hyperkinetic action thriller from the master action choreographer Yuen Woo Ping.

    The video quality is slightly above average.

    The audio quality is good.

    A lot of extras, not all of them good.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Monday, July 25, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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