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Film / In the Line of Duty 4: Witness

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Pictured: Action scene No. 11 (out of maybe 13) in this movie.

In the Line of Duty 4: Witness is a 1993 Hong Kong action film directed by Yuen Woo-Ping, starring Donnie Yen and B-grade action queen/discount Michelle Yeoh, Cynthia Khan/Yeung note  Despite the title, the movie is actually the second installment of the In the Line of Duty series (In the Line of Duty and In the Line of Duty 2 are the foreign export titles of Yes, Madam and Royal Warriors respectively, without Khan's involvement. Cynthia Khan was in In the Line of Duty III: Force of the Dragon and reprises her role as Rachel Yeung in this movie, making her the only character with a Role Reprise in the series).

Inspector Rachel Yeung (Cynthia Khan) finds herself hot on the trails of drug dealers while on assignment in America, leading her back to Hong Kong to a suspect, mild-mannered dock worker Luk Wan-ting (Yuen Yat-chor). However, two Chinese-American investigators - police lieutenant Donnie (played by Donnie Yen) and CIA operative Michael (Michael Wong) are on the case too, and follows Rachel back to Hong Kong.


Action ensues.

Lots and lots of it.

Like, you probably couldn't count the number of fight scenes, vehicle chases, high-rise battles, beatdowns, on both hands.

This film has the examples of:

  • Action Girl: Rachel Yeung, played by Cynthia Khan.
  • Affably Evil: Michael is polite, charming, suave, smiles a lot… and is the Hidden Villain of the movie the whole time.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Donnie and Michael. Although in the final fight, only Michael keeps the suit on, while Donnie switched to a more practical jacket instead.
  • Blatant Lies: Donnie trying to tell Luk’s mother ( after she discover the handcuffs holding Luk and Rachel together) that "It’s not handcuffs, it’s a love knot. These are quite popular in America." Luk’s mother doesn’t buy it a bit.
  • Car Bomb: The mobsters sent by Michael tries to kill Rachel with this weapon, but Rachel’s car is parked on top of a water puddle and she saw a strange red blinking light reflected on the water’s surface. Cue Rachel dashing away from a car explosion.
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  • Chained Heat: Luk and Rachel, paying a visit to Luk’s mother, ends up finding out that Donnie is already there waiting for Luk (posing as Luk’s friend) to arrest him. Where Donnie immediately puts cuffs on Luk and Rachel, just as Luk’s mother interrupts, at which point Luk tries to have an awkward conversation with his mother while hiding the fact that he’s handcuffed to Rachel. It doesn’t last, unfortunately.
  • CIA Evil, FBI Good: Michael, the true Big Bad, is a renegade CIA agent who’s working with a drug-dealing syndicate and using his position to cover the truth.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Literally, after being captured alive by the mob, Luk gets interrogated by getting tied up by his neck in a freezer and having his torturer shoving ice into his face to make him spill the truth.
  • Designated Girl Fight: Rachel against the blonde henchwoman (Fairlie Ruth Kordick), which ends with the latter falling to her death when Rachel’s Save the Villain attempt didn’t quite work.
  • Destination Defenestration: A twofer. Michael is killed when Rachel and Luk, together, delivers a double kick on Michael which sends him through a glass barricade falling to his death.
  • Dies Wide Shut: Michael. Donnie, for old time’s sake, simply pulls an American flag nearby over his face.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Donnie, who may be a hero (or Anti-Hero if you prefer), but also tends to be a Jerkass who will break rules, beat up witnesses, and commit fraud just to catch his criminal.
  • Hanging by the Fingers: Happens to Rachel twice in the movie, first on the railings on the side of the ambulance during the hijack, then from a bamboo frame during a hanging battle against Michael’s henchwoman.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: One of the many action scenes involves Donnie being attacked by two henchmen who are also Badass Biker on the streets, where he knocks the first guy off his bike, and grabs it with the other biker hot in pursuit.
  • Hoist Hero over Head: The Scary Black Man thug grabs Donnie over his head and tries to hurl him off a balcony, but missed.
  • Hot-Blooded: Donnie, who flies into a rage with the slightest provocation and responds to everything by punching. He crosses into Idiot Hero territory a few times.
  • I Have Your Wife: Or I Have Your Mom. See Unwilling Suspension.
  • Impaled Palm: Rachel shooting Michael through the hand in their final confrontation.
  • Instant Chucks: Combined with Wrench Whack, one fight scene in a mechanic’s workshop had Rachel fighting a mook with two wrenches tied together. She then decides to switch weapons and hand the wrench-chucks to the relatively inexperienced Luk, who tried to use it but end up hitting himself with it.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Donnie tries to intimidate Luk using this method when Luk was first arrested, by dragging him by his handcuffs against a table and towards him and asking questions straight into Luk’s face.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ultimately, Donnie turns out to be side of good and flat-out refuses Michael when the latter offers him a We Can Rule Together deal.
    • In fact, despite antagonizing Luk for no reason other than being a dick, in the climax Donnie risks his life to rescue Luk’s mother.
  • Killed to Uphold the Masquerade: Michael killing his own henchman in the police station with a poisoned needle to prevent Donnie from finding out the truth when interrogating him.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Turns out that Michael is the true Big Bad of the movie, despite being a close ally and posing as The Lancer to Donnie.
  • Momma's Boy: Luk, whose mother still dotes on him and treats him like a kid.
  • Outside Ride: In an intense chase scene where the ambulance gets attacked by hijackers, Rachel and one hijacker inevitably ends up clinging on both sides of their transport. The hijacker actually manages to get up first and try to stamp on Rachel’s fingers to force her off, but she ends up clinging to the ambulance’s side.
  • Polite Villains, Rude Heroes: Suave and charismatic Michael against brash, hot-headed, bad-tempered Donnie.
  • Railing Kill: Some of the bad guys, like the Scary Black Man Donnie battles, and Michael.
  • Ridiculously Average Guy: Luk, a regular dock worker and civilian, who is the Team Normal compared to the ass-kicking Donnie and Rachel.
  • Scarf of Asskicking: Rachel wears her cool scarf in practically every fight scene she’s involved in for the first half of the film.
  • Scary Black Man: A huge, muscular black henchman stands between Donnie and the balcony where Luk’s mother is being held hostage. To save her, Donnie had to defeat this black thug, which he did by kicking him off the balcony.
    • The black thug is played by Michael Woods, an old friend of Donnie’s from his martial arts academy days, and was in fact in several of Donnie’s late 80s / early 90s movies, usually as henchmen antagonizing Donnie, including in Tiger Cage, Tiger Cage 2, Cheetah on Fire, Crystal Hunt, and this one.
  • Shout-Out: The ambulance chase feels a lot like a recreation of the desert truck chase from Raiders of the Lost Ark, but with the hero and antagonist reversing positions: Rachel gets thrown out of the vehicle and ends up clinging on its side, then attempts to enter through its side doors and take out the driver, only to end up hanging to its front grill. And unlike that Nazi who got run over by Indy, Rachel gets out of the way in time.
  • Sword Fight: Rachel vs. Michael. Both sides may be stripped of their firearms, but how convenient there are decorative real swords hanging on the walls.
  • Tattooed Crook: The mobsters each have a tattoo in the interior of their hands, which Donnie notes: "US Navy Special Forces emblem, Black Fox Symbol, Type 3."
  • Third Party Stops Attack: The docks confrontation between Donnie and Luk culminates into both men beating the snot out of each other, until Rachel arrives with a Battle-Interrupting Shout.
  • Tricked-Out Shoes: Michael kills the captured henchman in the police station interrogation by revealing a poisoned needle in his shoe, which he used to stab the henchman. Said henchman dies while being interrogated by Donnie, causing Donnie to look like he has committed Accidental Murder.
    • Later on, during the Villain Reveals the Secret scene where Michael’s true persona is exposed to Donnie, Michael tries to kill Donnie with this same weapon. It doesn’t work.
  • Unwilling Suspension: Luk’s mother ends up being captured by Michael’s minions and hung from the top of their penthouse, setting up the climatic Roaring Rampage of Rescue.
  • What a Drag: Donnie’s fight against the two biker thugs have him being caught in ropes and dragged behind both bikers. Conveniently, there’s an ax placed on a nearby construction site allowing Donnie to cut the ropes.
  • With My Hands Tied: Luk managed to escape from his cell when another officer tries to beat him up for refusing to answer questions, where Luk suddenly retaliates by getting up, delivering a Groin Attack and kicking said officer into a wall, where he then slumps unconscious allowing for Luk to find his keys.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Michael in the finale proves how ruthless he is by beating up Rachel. And Luk’s mother!


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