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Long before Michelle Yeoh hit the international mainstream as a motorbiking Bond girl in Tomorrow Never Dies, and even before U.S. audiences saw her as Jackie Chan's sidekick (literally) in Supercop, she was a Hong Kong action star in her own right. In Royal Warriors, released in 1986, Yeoh plays a Hong Kong police officer who happens to be flying home from Japan on the same flight as a criminal being extradited. In a precursor to the spate of shootout-on-a-plane movies of the 1990s (Air Force One, Executive Decision, Turbulence, Con Air), an accomplice kills the police escorts and frees the criminal midflight. An impromptu team of Yeoh, an air security officer named Michael Wong (played by--hey! Michael Wong of Once a Thief), and an about-to-retire Japanese Interpol officer (played by Henry Sanada) manages to wipe out the bad guys and save the plane. It turns out, though, that the two baddies were half of a quartet of war veterans who once vowed to stick together to the death, and the two remaining are determined to avenge their friends. Although there are three heroes, Yeoh is definitely the star here, combining strong martial-arts moves with a warm personality. Sanada can match Yeoh kick for kick but is angry and sullen through most of the film, while Wong mostly serves as a gadfly to Yeoh. Action fans are treated to the obligatory car chase, revenge motives, annoying bureaucrats, explosions, and bodies diving in slow motion.

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newVHS Royal Warriors VHS (1986/Michelle Yeoh) $5.99