Road Warriors

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Reviewed by   |  Jun 16, 2023

The Four Heavenly Kings are the famed quartet of motorcycle officers who keep Hong Kong’s streets safe. Their daily challenges include speeding, illegal racing, accidents and that’s not to mention the internal politics of their department. Their main trouble, however, is with Billy Wong, the supercilious son of a local tycoon who regularly races through the streets in his Porsche. Every time his activities look to have gotten him in trouble, Billy’s father uses his wealth and legal team to extricate his son from any responsibility. This lack of accountability leads to tragedy when Billy’s latest transgression causes a school bus to crash, killing some of the children on board. Yet if one is rich enough it seems though the law need not apply, and Billy and his friends continue to mock the law enforcers. Meanwhile, Inspector Li (Lee), one of the Heavenly Kings, starts to form a bond with the mother of one of the injured boys from the school bus crash.

When you think ‘Road Warriors’, you probably don’t think about Hong Kong police drama. You might think of ‘Mad Max 2’ (I know, it’s technically ‘The Road Warrior’) or the NWA tag-team (that’s me showing my age), but you don’t picture Danny Lee gliding along the streets on his police motorcycle. Although a modest hit on release, ‘Road Warriors’ is not one of the fondly remembered films of Danny Lee’s back catalogue, and that is a shame; this isn’t a masterpiece of the genre by any stretch, but it’s a more than adequate drama with some well shot chase scenes. It lulls in the middle but has enough going for it to ensure that the viewer sticks with it.

Danny Lee played more cops than Roy Rogers played cowboys, so it’s perhaps not a shock to see this mid-80s effort get lost in the mix, despite this also being one he wrote and directed too. Yet it has enough going for it to recommend it, especially a cast of familiar Hong Kong stars of the era. Lee is typically cool as the focused hero, while Jamie Luk provides good support and there needs to be a special mention for a medium-sized role for future Jackie Chan regular Ken Lo. And ‘Road Warriors’ certainly gives you a vile assortment of villains to rally against; they verge on being cartoonish at times, borrowing that usual ‘arrogant rich boy’ trope that so many copied in the 80s, but they truly get under your skin. Billy Ching, who forever played this slimy, creepy kind of character, is perfectly suited for his role and you feel yourself rejoicing when he gets his comeuppance. ‘Road Warriors’ is better acted than it is written – there’s a few too many scenes that appear to be clumsy polemics rather than dialogue, and the romance between Lee and a victim’s mother disappears almost as soon as it is hinted at – but that’s not to say there’s nothing to enjoy here.

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