Yes Madam 5 – Balancing Love and Work

Country: Hong Kong
Genre: Action/ Romance/ Girls With Guns/ Martial Arts
Director: Lau Shing
Year: 1996

Rating: ★★½☆☆

WORTH A LOOK

For a while there, I thought Yes Madam 5 was going to be a good movie.

Chin Siu-Ho plays the adopted son of a triad boss and is slated to take over when the old man (Lau Siu-Ming) retires. Chin Siu-Ho wants to legitimize the business and to that end, he brings in computers. Unfortunately, there is a security breach and an incriminating floppy disk ends up in the hands of an innocent Malaysian girl.

It’s up to Chin Siu-Ho to retrieve the disk, which he would prefer to do without bloodshed. Unfortunately, Chin Siu-Ho’s girlfriend (Cynthia Khan), who works for Interpol, learns of the existence of the disk. Up until now, the two have agreed not to interfere with each others careers, but the disk sets them up for a collision course.

To make matters worse, a thuggish lieutenant in the family (Phillip Ko Fei) doesn’t trust Chin Siu-Ho and sets out for Malaysia, flanked by dozens of gunsels, and he doesn’t care how high the body count goes, as long as he ends up with the disk.

This is not the most original setup, but it has a lot of potential, both for action and romance.

Chin Siu-Ho and Cynthia Khan are just fine as romantic leads, and of course they can fight. So can villains Phillip Ko Fei and Billy Chow.

I’ve also got to praise the cinematography of Cheung Ging-Nin, which is bright and appealing.

Even the logic of the story holds, at least for the first half of the picture. Screenwriter Yip Siu-Man keeps events moving along and creates compelling characters, at least in the context of a cartoonish action/romance.

But then, at the 45 minute mark, we get the first of many interminable car and motorcycle chases. Director Lau Shing fails to create any feeling of danger or suspense and he tries to make up for it by punctuating the chases with car crashes.

And I don’t know if it was the decision of action choreographer Phillip Ko Fei or the director, but slow motion is horribly overused in the fight sequences. Why would you want to do that when you have terrific performers like Chin Siu-Ho, Cynthia Khan, Phillip Ko Fei and Billy Chow? The gunfights aren’t terribly creative either, and there are none of the wonderful stunts we associate with the Golden Age of Hong Kong.

So, the action, with a couple of exceptions, is weak. That draws your attention to a raging implausibility in the script. At one point, Chin Siu-Ho has retrieved the disk. Why doesn’t he simply destroy it? It’s not like he needs it. He just can’t let it fall into the hands of Interpol.

And for some reason, director Lau Shing lets his movie continue after the obvious ending for a completely extraneous scene.

Normally, these are flaws I could overlook if the film had kickass action, but…

Yes Madam 5 is a missed opportunity.

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