“Decent, but after Part IV, definitely disappointing.”
After the magnificence of Donnie Yen and Khan in its insane predecessor, the fifth installment was always going to have a tough job living up to the same standard. On its own terms, it’s perfectly reasonable, but certainly suffers in the comparison, not least because the storyline is strikingly similar. Once again, there’s an innocent who gets caught up in murky dealings between Inspector Yang Lei-Ching (Khan) and the CIA, and finds themselves on the run from a pack of assassins, unsure who to trust – except Yang, of course. In this case, it’s her cousin, David (Wu), a marine who has returned to Hong Kong, only to find himself under suspicion for espionage. In particular, being part of a Korean group, led by a man known only as ‘The General’ (Chow), who deals in Western secrets. It’s up to David and Lei-Ching to prove otherwise – if they can stay alive long enough to do it.
This certainly starts the right way, with Khan kicking an opponent through a car windshield, before going on to battle on top of multiple vehicles [I guess rear-view mirrors are optional in Hong Kong, since the drivers all appear oblivious to the brawl going on behind them!], Thereafter, the fights are certainly regular enough to keep the viewer interested, and by no means badly-staged: it seemed to me that a lot of them took place in fairly claustrophobic locations, such as narrow corridors. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword; while enhancing the intensity, Khan’s balletic style really needs a bit more space in order to be appreciated at its best. After the opening, she doesn’t have any standout battles until the end, where she takes on the General’s secretary (blonde Australian Kim Penn), whose skills are not limited to dictation.
The rest of the running time, there’s appears to be quite a lot of chase sequences, and definitely too much of David. The former, again, aren’t badly done: it’s just that it wasn’t boat chases which made previous entries in the series such solid-gold classics of the GWG genre, even a quarter-century later. I can’t say I was ever bored: confused, certainly, since the subtitles on the copy I was watching bore only a passing resemblance to the Queen’s English. However, there’s no denying this is significantly below the standards set by the series previously, even if its own merits still leave it worth at least a one-off watch.
Dir: Chuen-Yee Cha
Star: David Wu, Cynthia Khan, Billy Chow, Lieh Lo
a.k.a. Middle Man