Yes, Madam a.k.a. Police Assassins a.k.a. Huang jia shi jie (1985): Breakdown by Kain424
Two hot, ass-kicking, female cops in Hong Kong attempt to solve a high-profile forgery case and take down a ruthless criminal kingpin. Also, a trio of goofy males attempt to ruin an otherwise decent buddy cop movie.
Part comedy and part Action, this film never really takes off like it should. Serving as an introduction to both Michelle Yeoh and Cynthia Rothrock (this being both of their first starring roles), directed by Corey Yuen, and even featuring Sammo Hung in a cameo, this flick should rock like no other. Unfortunately, the movie’s sense of rhythm is lost by allowing the focus to shift from our two female leads to several characters meant to give comic relief. It’s as if the film is constantly trying to assure the audience that though the film is indeed about a couple of hard-ass women, us males can delight in the comic relief characters throwing a wrench into the gears of equality so as not to feel too threatened. It’s really too bad.
There is so much comic relief, in fact, that it totally undermines the dark and gritty storyline, defeats serious moments, and pokes holes in the tough image the girls seem to be going for.
And, like I said, Sammo Hung shows up. He doesn’t fight anyone, and a small joke is made about him being forced on a strict diet, but he feels utterly out of place.
What really surprised me was all the lifts from other, more notables films’ scores, like from John Carpenter’s Halloween. Completely out of place. I shouldn’t be too hard on this one, considering that it’s one of Corey Yuen’s first movies as the director, and the fight scenes (especially the one at the end) are actually pretty good. Yeoh and Rothrock get to showcase their remarkable skills here, but unless you’re a big fan, this one’s not really worth the look.
[HOW BAD-ASS ARE THE MAIN CHARACTERS?]
Michelle Yeoh is Inspector Ng. Cynthia Rothrock is Inspector Carrie Morris.
Since the movie is essentially a buddy-cop film, we follow these two as the main characters. Their bad-assness, as it were, is more implied than actually shown. We do get to see them take on an entire room filled with thugs, but it never reaches peak levels of awesome. And while they are indeed excellent martial artists, they pretty much remain by-the-book-cops for the duration of the film. Both are given great introductions, and Rothrock is also shown to be handy with a bowstaff as well as seen to be the more hard boiled of the two. They are pretty bad-ass as far as chicks go, which I guess is the point.
[THE BODY COUNT: 14]
Only a couple more than a baker’s dozen but half of the corpses stacked up by the end were created by Yeoh, so I guess that’s something. Rothrock kills a couple, but the rest are shared between the comic relief characters and the villains. There’s not much in the way of variety, however, with most dropping from plain old gunshot wounds.
[MOST SATISFYING DEATH]
Michelle Yeoh kicks a guy through a bunch of glass, from whence he falls into a shallow pool, shredded like lettuce and dead. A floating, bloody corpse is all that remains of the goofy caricature of a villain that once was.
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
The two or three times someone even attempts an act in an overtly hetero nature, they are either immediately rejected or instantly and painfully punished for their transgression. One sad individual makes the mistake of flashing a woman in a library, and has his display goods promptly crushed between the two covers of a hardback book.
The comic relief characters all seem to share some unspoken love for one another and bicker like they’re married, but the main focus is really on the two female protagonists. These girls show no interest toward anyone, let alone members of the opposite sex.
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
In a film about two female butt-kickers, Yes, Madam is shockingly sexist. It is made reference several times to the ladies that no man will ever marry either of them. This is a lame put-down, considering these girls can obviously take care of themselves, but I think the message is intended for the audience. It is there to let the women watching know that fierce independence in women is neither warranted nor desired. The two leads are often the victims of other cruel japes as well, but also take several kicks to the chest area. Ouch.
And despite being so proficient in their fighting, the women are shown as being headstrong and underdeveloped as officers of the law. In this cop film, the women rarely even break a rule, let alone the law, in order to get the job done, thus they are shown as inferior to their male counterparts. In fact, it is neither Yeoh nor Rothrock that cracks the case. Even more depressing, it is one of the goofy, comic relief characters that dispatches the final villain of the picture.
Yes, Madam allows the silly sidekick characters to completely steal the show here, as if they were somehow more interesting. Glass ceiling indeed.
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
Right at the beginning of the film, in an apparent homage/rip-off of Dirty Harry, Michelle Yeoh interrupts a robbery. A shotgun pointed at the last remaining robber, who starts to reach for his gun, Yeoh cocks her weapon and says, “I don’t know if I’ve any shells left. You want to take a chance?”
In Dirty Harry, the criminal doesn’t feel too lucky, but Harry Callahan’s gun is empty anyway. In Yes, Madam, apparently, the thug doesn’t find the the former beauty pageant winner quite as intimidating as a smirking, disheveled Clint Eastwood. He takes his chance and is thus rewarded for his efforts when Michelle blasts his hand off. Even Callahan would call that cool.
[THE USES OF YEOH: 3 outta 3]
[X] Kicks A Man’s Ass
[X] Plays A Cop Or Law Enforcement Agent
[X] Performs (an) Impressive Stunt(s)
[THE RULES OF ROTHROCK: 3 outta 3]
[X] Asian Background
[X] Performs A Scorpion Kick
[X] Uses A Bowstaff
[THE CHECKLIST: 18 outta 25]
[X] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[X] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[X] Crotch Attack
[ ] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[ ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[ ] Factory/Warehouse
[ ] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[X] Manly Embrace(s)
[ ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[X] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[ ] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[X] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[ ] Tis The Season
[X] Torture Sequence(s)
[X] Unnecessary Sequel [Yes, Madam 2]
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice