[box cover]

In the Line of Duty 4

When watching an older action film like In the Line of Duty 4 (1985) for the first time, there are a few expectations one must set in order to get the most enjoyment from the experience. After all, there is the horrid soundtrack, lots of scary-looking hair, and fight choreography that has been surpassed on every level over the past two decades. But when the film comes from a Hong Kong studio and is directed by a man who would go on to become the most well-known fight choreographer in the American film industry, that last concern is washed away. Skill and speed that rivals anything choreographed for modern action films is on display here. Add in a big dose of Donnie Yen's cool, Cynthia Khan's toughness, and a little Michael Wong, and we've got a cop film worthy of being considered as one of the best from that era. And for another level of entertainment entirely, don't forget the Americans-as-villains stereotypes, which perfectly mirrors the Hollywood-hero-versus-Asians tracts of Stallone, Van Damme, and Segal. In the Line of Duty 4, not a sequel per se but instead part of a random series of police movies, is the tale of a drug-ring investigation. Luk (Yat Chor Yuen) witnesses a murder (and casts aside a condemning roll of film) on the pier where he works in shipping, and when he runs from the cops instead of speaking with them, he becomes a prime suspect. The killers know better, and he finds himself caught in the middle of cops and criminals. After he escapes on a boat to Hong Kong, the Americans involved in the killing continue to hunt him down; however, the cops get to him first. Not all is well on the police side — Donny (Yen) and Yeung (Khan) begin to suspect that there may be an insider working with the bad guys. The CIA is involved (those evil drug-dealing capitalists), and Donny and Yeung have to work on both sides of the law to bring the real killer to justice. The first thing to note about ITLOD4, obviously, is the martial arts, and between Khan and Yen there's enough kicking here to make the most ardent kung-fun fan happy. Despite the billing on the disc, this is Khan's film and she carries it well. Yen was still young in his career at the time, but his talent is made obvious. For martial arts fans, this is a real treat. Between Yen and Woo Ping it showcases young talent that would go on to have a big impact on Hong Kong and Hollywood cinema alike. Fox presents the DVD with a 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer. The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround tracks, in either Cantonese or an English dub (which is good for a laugh), are solid. Two trailers for the film are presented (one for the DVD), as well as trailers for the other films in the series. Keep-case.
—Scott Anderson

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