Khan and Yen at Their Best

It took four films until this series found the right starring combo. Nothing against the superlative Michelle Yeoh or Cynthia Rothrock, but when together, Catherine Khan and Donnie Yen sell an action spectacle on par – even better than – similar Jackie Chan outings.

At one point, Khan fights on the roof of a speeding ambulance, and when knocked over the side, performs a perilous stunt routine that ranks her among the Hong Kong action elite. In the Line of Duty IV gives Khan these opportunities frequently, letting her showcase her athletic brawling and non-risk averse stunts. Here, she’s on par with Yeoh.

In the Line of Duty IV is close to all action

Yen, young in his career, stages a number of startlingly fast, expertly choreographed fights including a finale rife in production value near an airport. Other than unfortunate, unnecessary slow motion, it’s a near-flawless climax, and joined to two other coinciding battles. In addition, Yen projects a sure-handed coolness, not ego, that elevates his character.

In the Line of Duty IV spends minimal time on storyline, retreading the familiar series routine of international police joining on a case, with Khan the righteous, rule-following cop. Yen, as her partner, chooses violence over courtroom justice. It’s ludicrous in a sense as Yen plays an “American” cop from “Seattle,” but that’s rapidly forgotten – In the Line of Duty IV is close to all action, or as close as possible without losing interest in the crime drama entirely.

There is a chance to read into the Hong Kong/American alliance, wherein the U.S. police immediately turns to fighting rather than arrests. That idea dissipates though as other In the Line of Duty entries did the same, just with other nations like Japan. Each film gives Hong Kong a superior sensibility, and Khan is capable of making her reluctance logical. It’s part of her character, and transitioning between sequels is easier for it.


A fine send off for 88 Films’ box set, In the Line of Duty IV shows superb grain replication and an accurate representation of the film stock. This new scan delivers on texture and detail, including gorgeous wide shots of the city behind the opening credits. Facial definition in close benefits from the resolution.

Color features an amber tint, reducing contrast to an off-white. Flesh tones veer pale, and primaries drift the same direction. In the Line of Duty IV needs a vibrancy boost as the image appears more faded than natural. The wimpy contrast is offset by better black levels, if only a touch. That’s a shame since the unfiltered master presents plenty of potential were it not for the color issues.


Original Cantonese and an English dub are offered in DTS-HD. Roughened dialog lacks pristine clarity, as much an issue of age as it is the original recording quality. An electrical hum is detectable under quieter dialog scenes. Action muffles each landed kick or punch. Gunfire doesn’t distort, but lacks dynamics, even for a mono track.


Frank Djeng and Michael Worth return from their commentary on In the Line of Duty III, and an additional older commentary comes from Hong Kong expert Stefan Hammond and actor Michael Wong. An interview with Donnie Yen precedes trailers.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

In the Line of Duty IV
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A nearly all-action, 90-minute spectacle, In the Line of Duty IV is the best in the series for its incredible pace.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 47 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray:

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