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Arthur Wong, Brandy Yuen
Cynthia Khan, Hiroshi Fujioka, Stuart Ong
Writing Credits:
Kiu-Ying Chan

A pair of law enforcement officers chase murderous jewel robbers.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Cantonese DTS-HD MA Monaural
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 84 min.
Price: $99.95
Release Date: 5/16/2023
Available As Part of In the Line of Duty I-IV Collection

• Audio Commentary from Hong Kong Film Expert Frank Djeng and Filmmaker Michael Worth
• Interview with John Sham
• Trailers
• English Credits


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In the Line of Duty III [Blu-Ray] (1988)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 11, 2023)

After two films in the series that starred Michelle Yeoh, we find a casting change for 1988ís In the Line of Duty III. Here Cynthia Khan becomes the female lead.

When Nakamura Genji (Stuart Ong) and Michiko Nishiwaki (Michiko Nishiwaki) perform a jewelry robbery, it ends with violence. The victims include Ken (Chris Lee), the assistant to Japanese police Inspector Hiroshi Fujioka (Hiroshi Fujioka).

This leads Fujioka to Hong Kong on a crusade to apprehend the criminals. He pairs with local rookie cop Rachel Yeung (Khan) to deal with these killers.

As I indicated in an earlier review, it seems like a massive stretch to refer to In the Line of Duty as a movie series in any traditional sense of the word. Yeoh acted as the connection between 1985ís Yes, Madam! and 1986ís Royal Warriors, but she played different roles in both - similar roles, but still not the same character.

Khan clearly takes over the Yeoh persona here, though because Duty III makes Rachel a rookie, she comes with a different level of experience than the roles portrayed by Yeoh. Only 19 during the filmís shoot, Khan was a little younger than Yeoh Ė 22 when she made Madam - so this shift downward in police experience makes sense.

Given Yeohís talent, one might expect a decline in performance quality with the shift to Khan, but I donít see that, mainly because Yeoh didnít exactly get a lot of room to shine in Madam and Warriors. Though ostensibly the lead, she got stuck in the background a lot of the time, so while she did fine in the movie, we didnít see obvious indications of her future stardom.

This sounds like faint praise for Khan, as these comments may imply she doesnít offer much of a presence. Actually, she does fine in her role Ė when allowed, at least.

Like the two Yeoh movies, we donít spend as much time with the female lead as Iíd like. Also ala those films, Khan gets a strong introduction but then becomes a spottier presence after that.

When allowed to prosper, though, Khan more than holds her own. She makes her occasional action scenes exciting, and she does dominate the last act, which semi-compensates for her erratic presence up to that point.

Unfortunately, Duty III provides another narrative that lacks real coherence. It bites off more than it can chew and tends to feel disjointed.

Heck, the movie doesnít even unite the two leads until about halfway into the running time. When the pair connect, matters improve some, but the story remains less than concise.

Expect more out of place comedy as well, though perhaps not as ill-suited as the gags in Warriors were. Duty III mostly uses Rachelís boss and fellow rookies as fodder for attempted laughs, so at least we donít get awkward juxtapositions of tragedy and goofiness ala Warriors.

Ultimately, Duty III fits with Madam and Warriors because it gives us another movie that works when it focuses on action but sputters when it doesnít. We get enough excitement to make Duty III mostly enjoyable, but expect inconsistency from it.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio D/ Bonus C+

In the Line of Duty III appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This film came with appealing visuals.

Sharpness worked fine. Some interiors occasionally felt a bit soft, but the majority of the movie brought solid delineation.

Neither moirť effects nor jagged edges became an issue, and I saw no edge haloes. Grain seemed consistent, and I noticed no print flaws.

Like the two prior movies, Duty III opted for a fairly natural palette, though it went stylized at times. For instance, a club favored a blue tint, and some interiors went with reds. Though the colors could seem a little heavy, they usually offered good representation.

Blacks appeared deep and dense, while shadows provided solid smoothness. Duty III didnít look quite as positive as its two predecessors, but it still brought us a quality transfer.

After the first two Duty movies offered problematic soundtracks, should we expect improvements from the third filmís Cantonese DTS-HD MA monaural? Unfortunately no, as it provided a weak mix.

Once again, distortion became the main issue. Most aspects of the track suffered from issues in that regard.

Speech consistently crackled, and music sounded shrill. Effects fell into the same category, as anything even vaguely loud appeared rough.

The track suffered from so much distortion that I started to wonder if my speakers went on the fritz. No Ė theyíre fine, but this simply became a terrible soundtrack.

The disc also came with an English DTS-HD MA monaural mix. Normally I avoid dubs like the plague, but given how awful the Cantonese version sounded, I gave it a shot.

As expected, the English vocal performances seemed hammy and weak. However, at least audio quality worked much better.

The looped dialogue never felt natural, but it lacked edginess or other issues. Effects and music also seemed somewhat flat and without much range. A little roughness popped up at times but not nearly to the degree heard in the Cantonese track.

The essential absence of distortion became a major plus when compared with the Cantonese version. As much as I dislike dubs, I would go with this English mix just because the Cantonese one became borderline unlistenable.

When we move to extras, we open with an audio commentary from Hong Kong film expert Frank Djeng and filmmaker Michael Worth. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at cast and crew, stunts and martial arts, genre domains, and some production topics.

Early in the commentary, Djeng indicates that he's rushing through the cast/crew/production basics because the movie eventually becomes all action and he wants to wrap those notes by that point. This implies - to me, at least - that he intends to let martial arts expert Worth cover that ground.

This doesn't occur, so after the rapid-fire collection of thoughts and facts Djeng presents during the movie's first half, the discussion crawls the rest of the way, as the men struggle to fill space. Well, half a fairly informative track beats none, but don't feel surprised if you lose interest as the piece progresses.

Conducted by Frederic Ambroisne, an Interview with actor/producer John Sham lasts 25 minutes, 41 seconds. They discuss aspects of Shamís career and his work on Duty III in this engaging piece.

In addition to three trailers - one Hong Kong, two US Ė we find English credits. This two-minute, 20-second reel indeed shows the filmís opening/closing text in English.

Note that this Blu-ray for Duty III comes as part of a four-movie In the Line of Duty I-IV collection. It also includes 1985ís Yes, Madam!, 1986ís Royal Warriors and 1989ís In the Line of Duty IV.

This means a mix of non-disc-based materials that apply to all four movies. Two double-sided posters emerge. One advertises Royal Warriors on both sides, while the other shows Yes, Madam! on one side and promotes all four films on the other.

A 100-page booklet comes packed with credits, photos, art and a mix of essays/interviews. It acts as a terrific complement to the package.

Like the two prior films in the loose franchise, In the Line of Duty III offers an inconsistent action flick. Parts of it bring thrills but other aspects fail to hit the mark. The Blu-ray comes with appealing visuals, subpar audio and a few bonus materials. This becomes another occasionally fun but up and down movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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