The Bodyguard from Beijing (1994)

bodyguardfrombeijing

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Jet Li stars in this Hong Kong-action film inspired by the hit 1992 film that stars Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston.

Michelle Yeung is the girlfriend of a wealthy Hong Kong businessman who has witnessed a murder. Fearing for her life, the businessman hires a top ranking official from the Mainland to serve as her bodyguard. The man in question is Allan Hui, a skilled bodyguard who has both skills in marksmanship and martial arts. The Hong Kong police also get involved with the mild-mannered Po acting as a second bodyguard to her.

Upon his arrival, Michelle’s attitude seems to not phase Allan’s strict ways of protection. However, the suspected killer has plans for Michelle. When a shootout ensues in a mall, which sends Po to the hospital, Allan is able to do his duty to protect Michelle, in which Michelle finally realizes that Allan does mean well at his job. She eventually begins to bond with him and has feelings for him, yet Allan is only there to do his duty. However, the failed attempt forces the suspect to up the ante and hire a Vietnamese ex-soldier, Wong, to off both Michelle and her bodyguard in retaliation for his brother, who was killed in the mall shootout.

This film was my introduction to Jet Li, the action legend turned philanthropist and dramatic actor who has been wowing audiences since his teen years. Here, Li plays a very stern faced Mainland China bodyguard who follows all procedures for his job and only focuses on the job. While Li has a reputation as an action star with great skills, he isn’t exactly known for his acting. However, this is one film that shows him pretty much straight faced perhaps because of his role.

Christy Chung starts out as an annoying spoiled brat. It tends to get annoying but it is when she finally wises up that you can only feel a bit sorry for her. Yes, she is the girlfriend of a wealthy businessman so it’s understandable to have that affluent lifestyle. However, the way Chung brings it almost comes close to child-like level for most of the film’s first half and that brings a sense of annoyance while Kent Cheng does well as the mild-mannered cop who is at first odds with Li only to become a reliable ally in times of danger. Cheng tends to play this brand of role quite well, much like he did with Flash Point.

The action, by the team of Richard Hung and director Corey Yuen, is exciting to watch whether it is gunplay or fisticuffs. The highlights involve Collin Chou as the insane ex-soldier Wong, who seeks revenge for his brother, who is the hired gun in the mall shootout scene. Chou really impresses with his martial arts skills, utilizing some nice kicking agility. His climactic fight with Li does involve some wirework but also has a nice little twist of the two combatants attempting to prevent themselves from getting killed by exposure to gas. However, this does allow to show Li showcasing some nifty handwork due to his wushu training.

The Bodyguard from Beijing starts out slow with Christy Chung’s annoying performance but the film does make a vast improvement with a nicely shot finale between Jet Li and Collin Chou that redeems the value of the overall film. The film was released in the United States as The Defender.

WFG RATING: B

Golden Harvest presents an Eastern Productions Ltd. Production in association with Cameron Entertainment Co. Ltd. Director: Corey Yuen. Producer: Jet Li. Writers: John Chan and Gordon Chan. Cinematography: Tom Lau and Edmond Fung. Editing: Angie Lam.

Cast: Jet Li, Christy Chung, Kent Cheng, Collin Chou, Joey Leung, Wu Wei-Kuo, William Chu, Huang Kai-Sen, Jimmy Wong, Fong Yue, Leung Kai-Chi.

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