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SUPERCOP 2

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Michelle Yeoh
Director:  Stanley Tong
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Video:  Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio:  Dimension
Features:  None
Length:  94 Minutes
Release Date:  December 21, 1999

Film *

Michelle Yeoh is as awesome an action star as any who have come out of Asian filmmaking in the last decade.  Her fighting skills are amazing, and like Jackie Chan, she does all her own stuntwork (although unlike Chan, she claims to have never suffered a serious injury as a result).  After switching from dancing to martial arts, she made a name for herself in the 80's with a few successful pictures, then essentially retired from the business when she got married. 

After her marriage ended, she found a golden opportunity to return to the screen…director Stanley Tong invited her to pair up with Jackie in Police Story III (known as Supercop in the USA).  The idea was to break the convention of having a female lead in an action story who was just there to be saved.  Tong wanted his leading lady to be as strong and capable as Chan.  The pairing of the two stars turned out to be a great move when the box office numbers started pouring in, and this picture, with it's subsequent American release, gave many Western audiences their first glimpse at this beautiful, amazing star (even though she was billed as Michelle Kahn for the US release).  She would then bring her style and talent to the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies.

If it seems like I'm arguing a case for Michelle Yeoh, I am—because I don't want people who see Supercop 2 to leave with a bad impression of her.  This sequel seemed like a good idea, especially since it reunited Yeoh with director Tong.  And Yeoh is more than capable of carrying an action film by herself.  However, this picture is an uninspired mess, with far too many critical flaws to be forgiven.  In other words, it should have worked, but it didn't.

For starters, there are far too many stretches of screen time where Yeoh is not even there…critical error number one.  The plot is silly and lifeless, which is typical of films of this nature, but the action scenes are way too few and far between to allow the audience to forget about the story, which is particularly bad here…critical error number two.  And Jackie Chan, who agreed to make a brief appearance in the film as a favor to his friends Yeoh and Tong, is utterly wasted.  He's in drag, and almost unrecognizable, and despite his great chemistry with Yeoh in the previous film, has no shared screen time with her in this movie…critical error number three.  Finally, the climactic scene, which can make or break an action picture, is one of the most lifeless and action-lite of an Asian film I've ever seen.  I couldn't believe when the end credits starting rolling…that couldn't be it!  Especially considering the movie poster showed Yeoh dangling from a helicopter like Chan did in the first movie.  No such scene in the sequel, by her or anybody else…critical error number four.

I don't fault Yeoh for anything other than the decision to make the picture.  This garbage is beyond saving, and the fact that she is handcuffed in this movie, and kept by and large from doing what she does best, almost feels like a weary surrender by the filmmakers.

I'm glad that Dimension allowed her to dub her own voice, though…she speaks English quite well, and that made the talkiness a little less distracting.  And her few action scenes are good, though quite below her usual standards. 

I can't recommend this film to anybody…not fans of Asian cinema, not action lovers, and sadly, not even to fans of Michelle Yeoh.  It's a waste of time and talent across the board.

Video ***1/2

The film may be poor, but the disc quality is terrific.  Though not anamorphic, this ranks alongside Black Mask as one of the best transfers I've seen for Asian pictures.  Images are sharp and clear throughout, with amazing clarity even through deep focus shots.  Coloring is just about perfect, too, with tones that are bright and rich, beautifully rendered, and without any bleeding.  The picture itself is extremely clean, which is a plus…only one or two shots look slightly victimized by nicks and scratches.

Audio ***

The re-vamped American soundtrack is quite good, too, using the 5.1 mix to bring alive the few good action sequences, with good command of the rear stage and occasional harnessing of the .1 channel, and in between, blasting out the good old American rock and roll and rap music.

Features (zero stars)

Nothing.

Summary:

Supercop 2 may just be another case of a sequel falling short, but given the amazing talents of Michelle Yeoh and the formidable action style of Stanley Tong, which brought Jackie Chan to mainstream America, this is a film that had the ingredients to be successful.  I don't even want to waste time trying to pin the blame...it's just a mess.  My only recommendation is to check out the first Supercop on DVD if you haven't yet, and then try to forget that a sequel even exists.