Royal Warriors

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“Royal pains.”

royalwarriorsIt’s really the finale which makes this stand out – not necessarily for its qualities (though it’s far from bad), more for the batshit insanity. It sees ex-cop Michelle Yip (Yeoh) storm a construction site in an armoured car, to rescue the coffin containing the body of a colleague, which has been suspended from a crane by the bad guy. How the hell did we get here? Good question. It all starts on a plane back from Japan, where among the passengers are Yip, Interpol agent Peter Yamamoto (Sanada, recently seen creating doomsday diseases in Helix) and security guard Michael Wong (Wong – a lot of thought clearly went into that character). On the flight, there’s a hijack, in an attempt to free a killer being extradited to Hong Kong; our heroic trio foil it, killing the hijackers. But that just brings down the wrath of the rest of the gang, who vow to take their revenge on the people who killed their colleagues. And they really don’t care who gets in their way, as a mass gun-battle at a night-club shows – it also gets Yip taken off the case.

Does the finale make sense now? The correct answer would be “kinda,” and the plot here is certainly the weakest element, forming more of a shaky bridge between the action scenes. Wong is particularly unimpressive, his romantic pursuit of Yip coming over as more in need of a restraining order than portraying him as endearingly romantic. In some ways, it also plays as 80’s Action Clichés, Volume 1, There’s a massive civilian body-count, the fate of Yamamoto’s family is painfully obvious, and we get things like Yip’s boss yelling at her, before she throws her badge in his face, and storms off to solve the case on her own. None of this takes away from the action, which is copious and hard-hitting (if, admittedly, sometimes frankly implausible, as noted). There could perhaps be some more Yeoh – you can never have too much – but watching her go up against the final villain (Ying) and his running chainsaw is a thoroughly adequate payoff.

Wong would show up in the fourth entry, again playing a character called Michael Wong, though by that time, Michelle Yeoh had been replaced as the series heroine by Cynthia Khan. Yeoh and Sanada would be paired again, but it would take a couple of decades and a lot of filmographic miles for each, before they worked together on Danny Boyle’s Sunshine. Chung would also direct Yeoh in her final action movie before “retiring” to marriage for a decade, Magnificent Warriors.

Dir: David Chung
Star: Michelle Yeoh, Hiroyuki Sanada, Michael Wong, Ying Bai

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