In the Line of Duty III (1988)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2005-09-26
Summary: Obsessive violence
Thre are a number of reasons to like “In the Line of Duty 3”. Among them are the ferocious fight between Hiroshi Fujioka and Stuart Ong that takes place in an abandoned boat factory, the battle that pits Cynthia Khan against Michiko Nishiwaki and Dick Wei in the same location and the lurid, extravagant and constantly over the top but riveting performance of Nishiwaki as the lovelorn and always deadly Japanese Red Army terrorist. One can ignore the anachronisms that pop up constantly because the action is so grand, the narrative actually makes sense and some of the devices used by Arthur Wong and the screenwriters work quite well.

Last things first—the two Red Army terrorists, who are actually dressed in army uniforms, are able to defeat entire battalions of heavily armed Japanese police officers who have been deployed specifically to keep them from stealing some jewels that are being displayed. They kill scores of cops, grab the jewels, elude the reinforcements, very slowly murder Fujioka’s student/friend and escape to Hong Kong. They have no support system, only one trustworthy confederate (others have already sold them out) and wind up holding a huge bag of counterfeit gems that they risked their lives to steal. Luckily for them the Hong Kong cops, while more lovable, are as incompetent as their Tokyo counterparts. There are enough martial arts face-offs, gun battles and explosions during this part of the movie that the audience can ignore the improbables and enjoy the action. Cynthia is introduced a tough and well trained cop before the credits when she apprehends an armed thief—in one terrific image she rips the seam of her police issue hobble skirt to she can spin through the air and deliver a kick to the fleeing robber.

The battle between Hiroshi Fujioka and Stuart Ong is very well choreographed and wonderfully executed by both actors. It is extremely brutal—each of the combatants absorbs at least a score of blows, any one of which would be fatal or disabling. They use metal pipes, chains, ropes and a boat under construction to fight and Fujioka is hindered by having his hands cuffed together for the entire time. Stuart Ong wields a long boathook most memorably, first driving the spike end into Fujioka’s thigh, then ripping into his shoulder with the hook and dragging him. The climax of this fight is excruciating—the antagonists have almost killed each other and can barely move. Stuart Ong still has the boat hook and he struggles to get to his feet so that he can drive it through Fujioka. Fujioka, exhausted, still handcuffed, covered with his own and Sai-Kit’s blood makes on last valiant stand. Terrific stuff.

The strongest parallel is between Fujioka and Nishiwaki. While on different sides of the law they are driven by the same passion, to revenge the death of the person they loved more than anything. Arthur Wong and the writers lay it on very thickly—at the funeral of Ken, his police protégé, Fujioka is asked by the young policeman’s surviving son to allow his father to be at peace in the afterlife by hunting down his killers. Nishiwaki has what seems to be an extremely sick sex/love relationship with Sai-Kit. Their lovemaking is spiced by the use of sharp knives and licking each others blood in addition to the usual exchange of bodily fluids. Nishiwaki loves him maniacally—she probably brushes her teeth maniacally because she is the perfect picture of a maniac. Neither of them is willing to abide by rules when there is a chance to take vengeance on the other, both might (and do) go crazy at any moment, slaughtering anyone unlucky enough to be in the vicinity. They are a perfectly matched set of psychotic killers.

It is easy to develop a rooting interest for Cynthia Khan’s character—she is obviously the most competent officer in the Serious Crime Squad but is constantly thwarted by her overprotective and extremely incompetent uncle who heads the squad. But it is the pursuit by and fight with Nishiwaki and Ong at the end of the movie that gets our hearts in our throats. Here Cynthia is not only a punching and kicking martial arts master, although there are plenty of punches and kicks. She realizes that she is trapped, unarmed and faced with two opponents, each of whom has as much skill, stamina and ability to withstand pain as she does. So instead of simply fighting it out with them and (somehow) eventually winning, she tries to avoid fighting by hiding among the industrial detritus of the abandoned plant. It doesn’t work, of course, but does serve to separate her antagonists so that she can deal with them individually. Ong is dispatched in an especially gruesome and satisfying manner.

Reviewer Score: 8