The In The Line of Duty series reinvented the Hong Kong action series by introducing the “girls with guns” subgenre. The first two films starred recent Oscar winner Michelle Yeoh, and are the films that made her a star in Hong Kong. The films aren’t really connected to each other except for the connecting theme of female cops being badass, basically. Cynthia Khan, who starred in the third and fourth entries, is a more than adequate replacement for Yeoh, who had actually retired from acting for a few years at this point when she married Dickson Poon. Her return to acting would the much beloved Police Story 3: Super Cop.
In the Line of Duty 3 finds Cynthia Khan playing Yeung Lai-Ching, who has impressed her superiors (and the audiences) by foiling a robbery at the opening of the film, and is transferred to the Serious Crime Unit. Her uncle is the head of the unit, and is not happy about this decision. She is soon assigned to being a police escort for the veteran Japanese cop Hiroshi Fujioka (his character’s name is the same as his real name) who is trying to get to this bent jeweler. He is too untouchable in Japan, but it might be possible to get to him in Hong Kong, where he does business. The jeweler has also double-crossed his hired jewel thieves, so they are also after revenge.
The plot isn’t really what you watch this film for: it’s a big goofy mess, but the action set-pieces are fantastic—if anything, they are actually better than they were in the previous entry. The opening robbery sequence is great, and when Khan rips her skirt so she can kick even more ass, it’s inspired. The big sequence at the Japanese fashion show that is the catalyst for much of the film is also beautifully choreographed, and when the guns start firing, it would make the best action directors blush. The final 20-minute stretch is just non-stop action, even more so than the first hour.
Other aspects of the film to note include a laughable, over-the-top sex scene that would make Paul Verhoeven blush, which is saying something, and an absolutely hilarious scene where somebody needs a gun and is given one that makes Dirty Harry’s 44 Magnum seem like a pea shooter. The film does suffer from trying to cram just too much in, there is even a whole subplot about getting guns to the Red Army terrorist group. Some of the humour, especially in the first half an hour, is very forced and doesn’t land. Cynthia Khan gets a little sidelined by Fujioka during the first half of the film, but the second half attempts to make up for that, and for the most part succeeds.
The Blu-Ray from Eureka Entertainment includes both the Cantonese and English audio options. The extras from this release are mainly limited to audio commentaries, but there are two: the first one is with Asian film expert Frank Djeng (NY Asian Film Festival) and the second is a duo commentary with action cinema experts Mike Leeder and Arne Venema. The disc is finished off with the native Cantonese trailer and the English export trailer, which is the slightly longer of the two. The booklet, as usual with much of Eureka’s Asian action releases, is written by Asian film expert James Oliver.