Project S (Stanley Tong, 1993)
This sequel to Police Story 3: Supercop, also known as, appropriately enough, Supercop 2, focuses on Michelle Yeoh’s character from that film, with the same director (Stanley Tong) and Jackie Chan reprising his role in a single scene (in which he foils Eric Tsang’s jewel robbery attempt while both are wearing the same drag outfit). Yeoh is instead paired with Yu Rongguang, who starred in Iron Monkey this same year. Yu wants to make enough money to marry Yeoh, so he does what any enterprising young Mainlander does in a Hong Kong cop movie: he gets together with his old war buddies, sneaks into Hong Kong, and goes on a crime spree. Yeoh joins with the Hong Kong cops to help track down the gang, eventually learning the truth about Yu and finding herself in a whole lot of fights and chases along the way.
The action is excellent. I haven’t seen much of Tong’s work outside of his collaborations with Chan (he worked on Teresa Woo’s Iron Angels 2 in some capacity), but surely there’s a reason he’s Jackie’s go-to director. Yeoh does tend to get lost in her own movie, however, as attention is split between her and the Hong Kong cops (Louis Fan and Emil Chow) and Yu’s own inter-gang melodramas. Yu and his buddies are, surprisingly enough, betrayed by the white guy they partnered with, a character named “Roger Davidson” who is ostensibly American but who speaks English with actor Alain Guernier’s thick French accent). So there’s a nifty little pre-Handover bit of paranoia here, with Mainlanders in a rush to loot Hong Kong but beaten to the punch by White People before they get the chance.
Yeoh does get the best fight in the whole movie though, as she squares off against one of Davidson’s American guards, a white guy at least two feet taller than her (the character is not named, but he is probably the guy billed only as “Big Yank” in the credits). The height disparity between the two is hilarious (Yeoh is a mere 5’4”) and beautifully framed by Tong, who finds ingenious ways for her to level the distance between them while never underplaying the very real peril such a petite woman would face in such a fight. It’s nothing like the spectacular stunts she performed while upstaging Chan in Police Story 3, but it is more in line with the essence of Yeoh’s appeal: a small woman who is never afraid to beat the hell out of very large men.