Film – Yes, Madam! aka Police Assassins
Year of release – 1985
Country – Hong Kong
Stars – Michele Yeoh, Cynthia Rothrock, John Shum, Hoi Mang
Dir – Corey Yuen
Like so many other artforms, sadly, women are poorly served by the Martial Arts movie genre. There are very few examples of movies that offer opportunities for women to showcase their fighting skills, and those that have done will often use female sexuality to sell the film to it’s audience. This is far from a problem isolated to Martial Arts movies, and if we opened that proverbial can of worms, we’d be here all week discussing it. Occasionally, we got a few examples that were able to mostly avoid the ‘damsel in distress’ tropes and out and out exploitation (Body Weapon I’m talking about you, hang your head) that can sometimes ruin potentially great films. Chocolate(link) is a fine example, and we’ll get to that movie in a later post, but for the return of Martial Arts Movie Madness I wanted to recommend early 80’s classic. ‘Yes, Madam!’ aka ‘Police Assassins’ (UK DVD title) ticks all the boxes of the perfect Friday night flick. At a run time of 1hr 35 mins it doesn’t out stay it’s welcome, and there’s just enough action to keep you entertained.
From a plot point of view, things are a little overly convoluted at times, but essentially you are looking at a ‘buddy cop’ format where the two detectives attempt to reconcile their differences and work together to solve the murder of a Scotland Yard detective and track down some incriminating microfilm. The espionage elements do feel a little tacked on at times and the movie is clearly at it’s strongest when it allows its two leads and stellar support to shine free from the flabby subplot. Michelle Yeoh and Cynthia Rothrock both deliver star-making performances that would go on to make them household names among fans. Yeoh has her first starring role after a number of smaller parts, and she adds some much needed gravitas to role of Senior Inspector Ng. She dedicated herself completely to the character and her work is reflected in her performance. She did all her own stunt work and spent 8 hours a day in the gym to prepare herself for the physical demands of the part. Rothrock delivers a fantastic performance in the film, which is all the more remarkable, given who she won the role. At the time, she was part of a martial arts demonstration team had a gone to audition for the producers. They were so impressed with Rothrock’s skills, they offered her the part on the spot, even though in the original screenplay it had been written for a male actor.
The supporting cast are generally good, with Jon Shum and Hoi Mang standing out as hapless thieves who stumble across the plot, and there’s even a role for legendary Hong Kong film maker and producer Tsui Hark as the third member of the criminal gang. The action choreography is tight thanks to the excellent work of the stunt performers and director Corey Yuen. Yuen is a name you might be familiar with as he has a huge body work both in Hong Kong and in the United States with films including Ninja In The Dragons Den, The Legend of Fong Sai-yuk and the action choreography on Lethal Weapon 4 and The Transporter. The blistering opening action scene features some fast and furious offense, delivered in the aggressive style Hong Kong cinema has become synonymous with. Inspector Ng intercepts a high stakes robbery in explosive fashion, and Yeoh showcases her natural athleticism with style and grace.
‘Yes, Madam!’ received a number of sequels that feature as part of a series of movies from the ‘In The Line of Duty’ franchise, but honestly, they all diminish in quality and memorability. None of them are able to re-capture the dynamism of this movie, and though this movie definitely has it’s problems, it’s still stands out as a significant contribution to the world of Martial Arts movies and gave us two names that will be remember by the fans forever as legends.
Thanks to the wonders of modern technology and the brilliant YouTube channel, Wu Tang Collection, you can see the whole movie right here;
Right, that’s your lot for today, have a great Saturday and i’ll be back with more Martial Arts Movie Madness soon!