Yes, Madam!
(a.k.a. In The Line Of Duty II: The Super Cops)

Director: Corey Yuen
Michelle Yeoh, Cynthia Rothrock, John Sham, Hoi Mang, Tsui Hark

Psst! Do you want to know a secret? Do you promise not to tell? No, I am not talking about Snow White's wishing well, but another juicy secret. The secret is: There are a number of easy ways to reasonably guess if a movie is bad! You don't have to go to the trouble of reading the Son Of The Pink Pantheropinions of your Facebook friends or critics (save for me). Let me illustrate what I am talking about with some of the observations I personally make when judging if a movie is likely to be bad. (1) Was the movie released to theaters in January, or from late August through the Labor Day weekend? Then it's very likely it's a dud. (Examples: The January Man, Strays, and Wrongfully Accused.) (2) If the movie was released by Hollywood Pictures or Screen Gems, it's very likely a dud. (Examples: Money For Nothing, Consenting Adults, and any Resident Evil movie) (3) With the exception of The Unknown Movies, if the distributor of the movie had in its advertising to resort to a quote or seal of approval from a Canadian critic source, the movie is likely a dud. (Examples: Return To The Blue Lagoon and Son Of The Pink Panther.) And (4), if the distributor of the movie quotes from a critic who gave the movie three stars - and no more than that - the movie is likely a dud. (Examples: Son Of The Pink Panther, Treasure Of The Four Crowns, and Intern Academy a.k.a. White Coats). Can I go on with more examples? Yes, I can! Sometimes the presence of a person in the movie's credits can alert movie buffs that the movie that person is in is likely to stink. As you probably know, this can often be seen with directors. For example, there is the case of Andy Sidaris, the director who threw in a lot of T & A as well as action in his movies, but did it in such a no-energy and utterly inept way in all of his movies that I still feel numb years later from seeing efforts of his such as Seven and Malibu Express.

Return To The Blue Lagoon

It isn't just certain directors that can give you a clue that a movie is very likely to be an awful viewing experience. From time to time, certain actors have in my eyes appeared in one awful movie after another. One of the most notorious examples is Pauly Shore, or as I like to call him, "Washed up (on) Shore" from movies like Son In Law and Jury Duty. There is also David Heavener, who in his career had to produce, write, and direct many of the movies he appeared in (such as Outlaw Force), because apparently nobody else would put him in their movies. All the movies of his I have seen have given me, well, the dry Heave-eners. And then there is Cynthia Rothrock. Now, I know she has enough fans out there that there will no doubt be some of my readers objecting to my opinion of her being a curse in every movie she appears in. Yes, back in those good old video rental store days, she certainly knew her martial arts, she was sexy (sigh), and while not a great actress, she delivered her lines better that some other martial artists turned actors. Yet... she had a terrible time finding good movies to appear in. Movies like Rage And Honor... Angel Of Fury... Martial Law and its sequel... all were terrible, the most unforgivable being 24 Hours To Midnight because in a nude scene she used the most unconvincing body double in the world. Fortunately, bona fide nude pictures of Rothrock can be found online with a very quick Google search (So I'm told! So I'm told!) Even when she was paired with a good studio, the results always seemed to be dire; Guardian Angel was made by PM Entertainment, but it was a dull exercise. And the two China O'Brien movies, while being backed by the legendary Golden Harvest studio, were cheap and tacky exercises, with bad writing and lethargic action (and showed that their director, Enter The Dragon's Robert Clouse, must have been really controlled by Bruce Lee on that particular film.)

What went wrong? I'm not sure. It may be that the makers of those movies thought that since Rothrock looked formidable (and sexy... sigh...), they didn't have to bother with quality elsewhere. But it may also be that the majority of these bad movies were made by American outfits. As you probably know, with the occasional rare exception such as Drive, American martial arts movies don't measure Yes, Madam!up to martial arts movies from Hong Kong and other key Asian territories. Americans may be (sadly at times) good at firing firearms, but Asians know their martial arts since it's been part of their culture for thousands of years. Whatever the reason(s), years ago I concluded that avoiding any Cynthia Rothrock movie was the wisest choice. But not all that long ago, I watched a movie with Cynthia Rothrock from Hong Kong, The Inspector Wears Skirts. It actually turned out to be good. However, since Rothrock's role was little more than an extended cameo, it didn't seem to count. I did learn that Rothrock's acting career actually started in Hong Kong, where she was a major player in several Hong Kong action films. As I indicated earlier, those folks at Hong Kong certainly know their martial arts, so I wondered if another Rothrock movie from Hong Kong - this time, with her playing a bigger role - might be promising. It wasn't easy finding one of these movies; for some strange reason, Rothrock's Hong Kong movies are, for the most part, very hard to find in North America. But I finally found one - Yes, Madam! (with its U.S. title, In The Line Of Duty II: The Super Cops) - on a popular streaming service on these shores. Taking place in Hong Kong, the story of Yes, Madam! involves two female law enforcers. First, we are introduced to local police inspector Anna (Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All At Once). (Note: some character names in the English dub I saw were different from what were in the original Cantonese.) An expert policewoman with exceptional martial arts skills, Anna is suddenly shocked when her love interest Richard (Michael Harry) is discovered to be murdered. Earlier, we saw that Richard was secretly a British law enforcement agent, and had been murdered by an assassin during a shady underground deal gone bad. Two lowly thieves named Marlon (Hoi Mang, Dragons Forever) and Professor (John Sham, Winners And Sinners) then came across Richard's body, and relieved him of his passport... though they don't know at the time that they've also got their hands on some secret microfilm that has evidence of criminal activity by some local hotshots, one of them being crime king Tin Wai-Keung (James Tien, The Big Boss). Shortly afterwards, policewoman Carrie (Cynthia Rothrock) arrives from Scotland in order to lend Anna and the rest of the Hong Kong police a hand. However, Mr. Tin has got wind of the existence of the microfilm, and naturally not wanting to be exposed, sends goons after Marlon and Professor with the directive to get that microfilm. Anna and Carrie soon discover that they'll have to use their martial arts skills on top of their investigation skills in order to retrieve the microfilm and break Tin and his criminal organization.

As you might have seen from the above plot description, Yes, Madam! not only has the delectable Cynthia Rothrock (sigh...) as one of its leads, but the equally delectable Michelle Yeoh (sigh...) as one of the leads. In fact, this film was Yeoh's first movie where she was a definite lead. She had been given a crash course (albeit a very intense one) in martial arts before this movie started filming, and was expected to do much (if not all) her own stunts. That might have shaken up a lot of other actresses, but in the end results, Yeoh shows great confidence and ability. Curiously, she is made to come across as more tough and tomboyish than beautiful (a short haircut, for example), but maybe that was intended by director Corey Yuen (The Transporter) to ensure male action film fans wouldn't be turned off by too much femininity. She isn't given much of a chance to show any emotion other than determination and toughness; when her character finds her boyfriend dead, she doesn't even give out a mere shrug. When paired up with Rothrock, both actresses seem extremely comfortable with each other, and compliment each other whatever is happening on the screen at the particular moment, though there are no moments when their characters temporarily let down their guards and engage in banter you'd expect with two women. It certainly helps that Rothrock is a lot more animated here than I've seen her in American movies. She was clearly expected to literally throw herself in the action and do exactly what Hong Kong audiences expect from a martial artist, male or female, in a movie. You can really feel pure energy and enthusiasm from her, and in no way does she stick out like a sore thumb in this foreign land and foreign method of action film making.

I feel I should point out that Rothrock, curiously, is dubbed by some anonymous female voiceover instead of her being allowed to speak her own lines. However, this unknown dubber speaks in a very posh British accent, so when the all-American Rothrock is heard spouting lines like, "Listen, s**thead, don't you f**k around with me!", in a tone more suited for Lords and Ladies, well... it had me rolling on my floor with huge laughter. And trust me, that isn't the only bit of unintentional amusement Yes, Madam! has to offer. If you know Hong Kong cinema of this era, you'll know to expect things like extreme continuity goofs (a huge crowd of onlookers materializing out of nowhere in a few seconds), music cribbed from foreign films (including John Carpenter's Halloween), and controversial topics like sexual harassment and police brutality being portrayed as utterly hilarious (such as it was done in The Untold Story.) Yes, Madam! certainly has more than its share of unintended laughs, but hey - I don't mind this from many Hong Kong movies. To me, that's part of the fun of them. Actually, the movie also has its share of intentional comedy. Some of it is old and labored (the old "light the wrong end of a cigarette" routine), but some of it is energetic and creative, such as one scene with a crooked fencer of illegal goods (played by future acclaimed Hong Kong action director Tsui Hark) does everything he can in his tiny apartment to fend off an assassin and try to escape. The scene is not only funny, it's an exhilarating moment of action. But that's not to say that the action portion of Yes, Madam! is always comic. It is for the most part treated seriously, but even without the backup of comedy, trust me, it delivers the goods whether you are from Asian or you are a westerner. It isn't just martial arts action - the two opening action sequences, for example, show some impressive foot/vehicle chasing, as well as some gunplay. Yes, most of the action is focused on martial arts, but boy, they are so well done that you won't mind the lack of action variety. As I said, the two lead actresses and the rest of the cast go all out when director Yuen tells them to do so. And with this being an 80s actioner, you know you won't be subjected to repeated rapid cuts or distracting flashy direction - you get to see the action in its purest form.

I feel I should point out that there is a little less martial arts action in Yes, Madam! than I was expecting, and maybe what you are expecting. Still, the climactic showdown at Tin's mansion is a real doozy, and makes it more than worthwhile to be a little patient. More excuses for action would still have been a good thing, however, and the slight lack of the daily recommended dose of action isn't the only problem to be found with the screenplay. The introduction of characters and fleshing them out enough is one of the weaknesses of the movie. The character of Anna we learn next to nothing about in the course of the movie, save for she's a policewoman and her boyfriend was recently murdered. We don't even learn her name for a considerable amount of time! Carrie is equally lacking in personality. The two thieves are not more than simply Dumb and Dumber. And the main bad guy Tin? He only has one short scene in the first third of the movie, and doesn't make more appearances before the aforementioned final showdown. Also, the story hanging all the characters and actions together is quite ragged. It takes quite some time for the movie to get all the elements (characters, the MacGuffin, etc.) introduced and organized so that we in the audience know everything we need to know. Once everything is brought up and organized, there really aren't any big plot twists or turns, instead just characters pursuing each other. The biggest plot flaw, however, is how the conflict at the end gets resolved enough for the supposed satisfaction of the audience. I won't say how this is done, but I will say it plays out that the screenwriter realized he painted himself into a corner, and in desperation threw in a reckless action to resolve things instead of having the problem solved in a more careful and believable manner. But hey, come to think of it, when you sit down to watch a Hong Kong action movie like Yes, Madam!, you don't go in with expectations of a great script. You sit down expecting balls to the wall action sequences, and a lot of laughs that are both intentional and unintentional. And in that way, Yes, Madam! does succeed. If you like this kind of Hong Kong filmmaking, you'll definitely like this movie as much as I did. Plus, it made me finally change my rule about Cynthia Rothrock, which is now: Avoid any Cynthia Rothrock movie... unless it was made by Hong Kong filmmakers.

(Posted October 26, 2023)

Check for availability on Amazon (DVD)
Check for availability on Amazon (Amazon Prime Video)

See also: Fantasy Mission Force, A Queen's Ransom, Stoner