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Monday, 15 April 2019

Retro Review: Project S (1993) #Hongkongcinema

Project 3 aka Supercop 2 (Chiu kap gai waak)
Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Yu Rongguang, Emil Chau, Louis Fan, Bill Tung, Bowie Lam, Jackie Chan, Eric Tsang
Genre: Action
Hong Kong Box Office Gross: over $9 million 

Plot: As a crime wave sweeps through Hong Kong, the police call on Jessica Yang: a rising star in their ranks, to help stop a notorious gang of thieves

'Not Super'

This film should have been a whole lot better - it's certainly not what I was expecting, and my hopes of Project S being as good as Police Story 3: Supercop were immediately dashed as I sat through this offering. But then I saw the name of Stanley Tong, who directed Police Story 3 with Jackie Chan and Michelle Yeoh, which was fabulous.... but then I saw his other movie credits, and yet he is hardly up there with the greats in John Woo and even dare I add, Corey Yuen-Kwai.

A cop from mainland China has to travel to Hong Kong to track down a band of thieves who have stolen a high tech computer system, with the leader who turns out to be the cop's ex-lover.

Despite taking place in the same universe as Police Story, this is not a true successor to Police Story 3: Supercop and Yeoh's Jessica here doesn't appear to exhibit the same characteristics as in the previous film. The cast, but especially Yeoh, were let down by a lukewarm direction and whereby the action scenes just weren't of the high standard that was in Supercop and Yeoh's 1985, Yes Madam!. Yeoh fights well, but for her duel against a big burly guy, who she manages to take down, she isn't given more opportunities to stamp her mark on the martial arts fighting scale and everything else - the script, the story, poor and forgettable supporting characters and the main villain (the former boyfriend) who is bereft of personality - is not good enough. Jessica's fellow cops who team up with her were so forgettable, one could easily ignore them and everything they did and say.

Its attempts at handling the romance and drama elements doesn't work and none of it appealed to me, whilst the comedy through Jackie Chan and fellow My Lucky Stars co-star and comedian Eric Tsang in an odd drag scene, as weird and daft as it was, was one I found the most entertaining out of the entire film. It certainly put a smile on my face seeing Jackie going undercover and hamming it up with the fake boobs, make-up and long curly hair! (Can we have a comedy with Chan playing a cop in drag beating the crap out of the bad guys, please?)

Everything else just felt, off to me. It didn't sense, nor feel like a Police Story film and one I have seen through Police Story 1-3; actually Project S toes more in line with the In the Line of Duty efforts starring Cynthia Khan, only with the action being sub-standard and hand-to-hand martial arts fight-based sequences take a back seat to more gunplay and stunts that were supposed to mimic the ones in Police Story 1-3, yet these were mostly either stale or they had a seen-it-all, done it all before whiff going for them.

It's dissapointing that I expected quite a great deal, since I am a fan of the Police Story films; however, Project S fails to utilise Michelle Yeoh's fighting instincts and abilities fully and properly and instead, it burdens the audience with a bland story. Without Jackie Chan's and perhaps Corey Yuen's daredevil inventiveness, which were sorely missed and something the film could have had more in and done with, this becomes a stripped down In The Line of Duty-based offering that sadly underwhelms.

Final Verdict:

Michelle Yeoh can be a great actress, but as an action star heroine, it appears she excels and flourishes when she is paired up with Cynthia Rothrock, Jackie Chan, Chow Yun-Fat (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) or Pierce Brosnan through Tommorow Never Dies, and less so than as a lone leading headliner movie act.

Project S turned out to be a poor affair and even with the Jackie Chan drag cameo, it can't redeem itself from what is, unfortunately, blandness.


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