IN THE LINE OF DUTY III
Aka "In the Line of Duty III: Force of the Dragon", "Force of the Dragon"
This marked two major changes in the Asian 'girl with a gun' franchise. First and most obvious is the title scheme as this is the first entry in the franchise to officially use the “In the Line of Duty” title in Hong Kong which would be retroactively applied to the first two entries “Yes Madam” and “Royal Warriors”. The first two films were released as “In the Line of Duty” and “In the Line of Duty II” in many of the surrounding territories and they became more wildly known in their home area of Hong Kong by these monikers so the filmmakers decided just to run with this title for the third film, which is just fucking strange and causes all sorts of confusion for people trying to figure this franchise out. The second major change is the replacement of our main star Michelle Yeoh, who busted her ass making the first two films works of martial arts stunt gold and thus needed a break and temporarily retired from film-making. Major changes in a franchise like this could help bury it for good but alas the filmmakers do the impossible making “In the Line of Duty III” even better as the first two entries.A jewel thief couple violently robs a showing in Tokyo killing what seems half of the police force on duty. A cop who survived trying to save his partner whom the thieves killed vows revenge and travels to Hong Kong to capture the duo before they sell the jewels and supply arms to the Red Army. He can’t do it alone and must team up with gorgeous and deadly rookie cop (Cynthia Khan) to take this deadly duo out before Hong Kong runs red with blood.
With Michele Yeoh bowing out of the series the producers had an almost impossible task of replacing her. How could they possibly find another versatile actress with the martial arts abilities, acting skills and sex appeal necessary to carry on the series? They traveled far and wide and finally discovered an unknown Taiwanese actress who could easily fill the big shoes. Adapting the stage name Cynthia Khan, she blew away Hong Kong audiences with her martial arts and stunning looks. Seriously she is one of the sexiest Asian women I have ever laid my eyes upon!
The action and stunts, typical with 80s Hong Kong action flicks, are brutally fast and bloody with stars Cynthia and Michicko displaying great kicks and punches. The fight sequences, particularly in the climax, are fired off in a rapid pace, almost TOO fast so don’t blink or you miss the action. Also the plot during the final act of the film seems to be on fast forward, wrapping up storylines almost as rapid as the fight sequences.
I’ve watched this franchise completely out of order and can honestly say I enjoyed this sequel as much as the first entry I saw “In the Line of Duty 4” which co-starred Donnie Yen. The choreography may not be by master Yuen Woo-ping, but the action is every bit as jaw-dropping and violent and I actually found the plot more engaging and I dug the slightly more darker approach to the film (unlike "Yes Madame") with well placed, sparse humor. Unlike part 4 which got a release in States thanks to the popularity of Donnie Yen, this entry has been overlooked in the United States and can only be bought as a rare import from Hong Kong but for fans of the underrated 80s era of Hong Kong action then this is a must own.
Written By Eric Reifschneider