Yes, Madam! [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - 88 Films
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (4th June 2024).
The Film

In spite of the newfound popularity she has gained after foiling an armored car robbery while in the middle of a vice operation, Senior Inspector Ng (Tomorrow Never Dies's Michelle Yeoh) is looking forward to nothing more than a vacation in Scotland with her former mentor Richard Nornen (Michael Harry) who is currently in Hong Kong. Little does she know that Nornen has in his possession a piece of microfilm that proves that a land development contract made up in favor of wealthy Henry Tin (The Big Boss' James Tien) was a forgery and he plans to profit off of it. Unfortunately, Tin has not sent Mr. Dik (The Seventh Curse's Dick Wei) to negotiate with him but to rub him out; unfortunately, thief-disguised-as-bellboy Aspirin (Ninja in the Dragon's Den's Mang Hoi) and his partner Strepsil (Painted Faces' John Sham) have inadvertently made off with the hidden microfilm when they swipe the "sleeping" man's wallet and passport, and Ng arrives soon after and goes after the two thieves before Dik can.

Only after Aspirin and Stepsil sell the passport to passport/ID forger partner Panadol (The Butterfly Murders director Tsui Hark) do they discover that Nornen was murdered and realize they could be implicated. They leave an anonymous tip to the police and Ng ends up apprehending a bail-jumping criminal ('s Eddie Maher) with the help of Scottish agent Carrie Morris (China O'Brien' Cynthia Rothrock) who impresses the local officers with her martial arts but not with her more direct methods of interrogation. Morris' police brutality, however, gives Ng the opportunity to engineer the crook's escape during a trip to the hospital in order for them to track him in his mission to butcher Panadol who he believes betrayed him. Panadol reluctantly sells out his partners, but Aspirin and Strepsil themselves come to the conclusion that they are safer in police custody when Mr. Dik and Vietnam wacko Mad Dog (Encounters of the Spooky Kind's Chung Fat) set out to eliminate them and find the microfilm.

Although shot and released before Royal Warriors, Yes Madam! is regarded as the first of the "girls and guns" offshoot of Hong Kong's eighties crime film boom. Apart from the bookstore flasher bit completely replaced with a different sequence in the export version the first third of the film plays like a straight-faced crime thriller, with the acrobatics of Yeoh (Rothrock does not appear until roughly a half-hour in) punctuated by gun play and bloodshed more brutal than your average Jackie Chan vehicle; however, the film shifts away from the investigation for long stretches and the antics of Aspirin, Strepsil, and Panadol take the film into action-comedy territory the highlight being Hark Tsui evading Maher in his surprisingly "modular" apartment and it appears that Yeoh and Rothrock are expected to shoulder all of the exposition and serious drama. The third act, however, balances things out once the thieves realize just how much hot water they are in and the sexism underlying the treatment of Ng and Morris by most of the men becomes outright sexism as Tin and his chauvinist thugs believe that the pair are no real obstacle to getting what they want, leading to a climactic battle of kicks, knives, swords, and lots of slow motion broken glass that earns chuckles while never letting the viewer forget the characters' peril. Perhaps more so than the fourth film in the series, the thin McGuffin plot works well in facilitating the action and comedy setpieces.

Only the third directorial effort of actor Corey Yuen (fourth if you count his uncredited direction on Game of Death II), Yes Madam! sports some exciting editorial and visual flourishes that keep the pace from flagging in between the action sequences (staged jointly by Mang Hoi and Cory Yuen), which feature that complex arrangement of action choreography and usage of the environment fans have come to expect from the most exciting entrees in the genre. Tai Bo (Police Story) and Ka Lee (Eastern Condors) have supporting roles as junior officers; however, they have less to do than Billy Lau (Mr. Vampire) and filmmaker Wu Ma (The Dead and the Deadly) who have an altercation over parking ticket quotas or even the "special appearances" of Sammo Hung, Richard Ng, and David Chiang as Aspirin's and Strepsil's old folks home-dwelling former Sifu and his buddies who spend their days breaking their dietary restrictions and molesting nurses (including busty Shirley Kwan). It may or may not be a wasted opportunity that Ng's superior Melvin Wong is more ambiguously chauvinist than suspicious given his turns as corrupt officials in other films of the genre. Yeoh who previously appeared in a featured "eye candy" bit in Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars would appear in the follow-up but her she would step away from the camera after she married the film's producer Dickson Poon but she would return to the screen following their divorce with the Jackie Chan vehicle Supercop. Rothrock made her feature debut here and would follow it up with a smaller role in Sammo Hung's epic Millionaires' Express but her similar role in Righting Wrongs would be her next prominent Hong Kong role. The film is not to be confused with the 1995 Taiwanese action film of the same name which starred Cynthia Kahn (which was released on video in Hong Kong as "Yes Madam 5").
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Video

Unreleased theatrically in the United States and only available as a Hong Kong laserdisc and VHS tape with bilingual subtitles, Yes Madam! - previously released in the In The Line Of Duty: I-IV set - was easier to see in the UK where it was released theatrically in 1986 and then on video as "Police Assassins" with Royal Warriors retitled as a sequel to that. Stateside, Tai Seng imported the non-anamorphic Hong Kong Universe DVD for their 1998 DVD while Hong Kong Legends took advantage of the Fortune Star remaster for their anamorphic 2002 special edition DVD. The film made its Blu-ray bow in 2011 in Hong Kong no word on whether that is one of the infamous upscales of Fortune Star SD masters or not followed earlier this year by a German mediabook with English subtitles but lossy audio, and then Eureka's UK edition late last year from a new 2K restoration. 88 Films' 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 widescreen Blu-ray comes from the aforementioned restoration and looks clean and sharp apart from the expected increase in grain during some in-camera and optical slow motion shots during the action scenes. The disc also includes the film's full English export version (87:36 versus 93:53) which replaces the adult bookstore bust with footage from Where's Officer Tuba? with Chiang in an entirely different role from the one he plays later in the film. This also purports to come from a new 2K restoration, although it is not clear whether it is a transfer of a separate element or a composite of the Hong Kong version transfer with a new transfer of footage specific to the export cut (either from the materials for the export version or newly transferred from the materials for Where's Officer Tuba?).
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Audio

Yes Madam's features the original Cantonese mono dub in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 as well as a home video mix in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and the Fortune Star DVD-era English dub in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 since only that version was remastered at the time while the export version includes only the classic English dub in lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 (unlike the UK edition which featured the track in LPCM), all of which feature relatively clear post-dubbed dialogue and retain the cues lifted from John Carpenter's Halloween. Optional English subtitles are available for the Hong Kong version and a second track is enabled for text when the English tracks are played.
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Extras

Yes Madam features an audio commentary by Hong Kong film expert Frank Djeng in which he discusses the discovery of Yeoh, her buildup as a D&B star (including her English billing as "Cynthia Khan" on some early films), her rushed martial arts training, the trio of Sham, Hark, and Hoi, the introduction of Rothrock who did not figure into any of the local promotional materials for the film as well as Melvin Wong who was a pharmicist before he was an actor and has since become a lawyer the mix of practical sets and studio locations, and the plot McGuffin which would also be reused in the fourth film.

Like the UK release, the disc features both select scene commentary by actress Cynthia Rothrock and Frank Djeng on the airport scene (4:30) and select scene commentary by actress Cynthia Rothrock and Frank Djeng on the final fight scene (8:27), but they appear to have recorded them separately from the UK ones. The film is preceded by a start-up introduction by actress Cynthia Rothrock (0:09) who also appears in the new interview "A Team Player" (17:50) discussing her training as a teenager, going to an audition in California where Hong Kong filmmakers were looking for the next Bruce Lee and choosing her instead, getting a contract that went nowhere until original director Sammo Hung noticed her on an American television news story, coming to Hong Kong expecting to do a period piece, not seeing a script and having to say something for post-dubbing, and working with Yeoh.

Also new is "Ladies First" (13:46) in which actor Mang Hoi discusses the particulars of Sammo Hung's involvement as the original director when the shooting schedule conflicted with his other directorial effort The Owl vs Bumbo and Hoi recommended Corey Yuen (Righting Wrongs), and Dick Wai accidentally rupturing Rothrock's ear during a fight.

Ported from the Hong Kong Legends DVD are "Battling Babes" (10:23) as well as an interview with actress Michelle Yeoh (15:05) discussing her ballet training and her love of Hong Kong cinema developed while schooling in London, the injury that stopped her dance career, her TV commercial with Jackie Chan, and the training she underwent for Yes Madam. The disc closes with the film's Hong Kong theatrical trailer (4:22).
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Overall

Although shot and released before Royal Warriors, Yes Madam! is regarded as the first of the "girls and guns" offshoot of Hong Kong's eighties crime film boom.

 


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