Hong Kong Cinema

The Defender

(Bodyguard from Beijing)

  • Made: 1994
  • Format: DVD
  • Region: 1 & 2 available
  • Release Date: 15/8/2000
  • Company: Buena Vista / Dimension
  • Length: 93 minutes
  • Picture: Widescreen 1.85:1
  • Extras: SWEET F.A!!
  • Classification: R


Corey Yuen


Jet Li, Ngai Sing, Christy Cheung, Kent Cheng, Leung Wing Chung, Ng Wai Gwok, William Chu Wai Lim

The Defender (Bodyguard from Beijing) is another title on the Dimension label that has again suffered from their disregard for the titles they release. The Defender was made in 1994 and was the first of two modern action collaborations with Corey Yuen, the latter being The Enforcer (My Father is a Hero). This film took HK $11,193,000 during a 3 week run and is quite a low grosser by Jet's standards. This is also the first of the two Gordon Chan scripts that Jet has worked on, both in 1994. The other script being the superb Fist of Legend, which Gordon also directed.

This film also uses the choreography of Yuen Tak, who with Corey (Yuen Kwai) was a member of the legendary Seven Little Fortunes troupe. Yuen Tak also worked again with Corey and Jet on The Enforcer the next year. The main bad guy in this film is played by Ngai Sing, who had a brief role later on in the The Enforcer, and gets a lot more screen time in this movie. This is arguably Sing's biggest role in a Jet movie, although he also had parts in Kung Fu Cult Master (1993) and Dr Wai (1996). The main female lead is given to the gorgeous Christy Cheung, who went on to work with Yuen Woo Ping with Red Wolf (1995) and Tai Chi 2 (1996).

Slippery when wet



Sing and Li get to grips



Big Mac and Fries please


Jet plays Allan Hui who is a member of the Beijing secret police and is given the role of being the bodyguard for Michelle Yeung (Christy). She needs protection until she can testify in a case against a mobster killing for which she is the only surviving witness. Her rich boyfriend is always away and Michelle initially hates having Jet protecting her. Well, that is until Jet saves her life which means she falls in love with him. Unfortunately, in process of saving Michelle's life a bad guy is killed. This bad guy is Wong's brother (Ngai Sing), who is a Red Army assassin. This makes Wong even more intent on killing Jet and co. The larger than life Kent Cheng plays Uncle Charlie who basically makes Hong Kong police look like miserable, gambling, and overweight, divorced bumbling idiots. But even though he's gambled away all of his son's college fund he gets some money at the end so everyone is happy! Jet and Sing have a big fight at the end and Sing getting killed by his own bayonet.


The action is nothing that will interest or excite a great deal. For the first 70 minutes of the film there is virtually no fighting and it is all gun play. Now I am as partial as anyone to seeing John Woo filming Chow Yun Fat flying sideways with twin revolvers blazing, but this is substandard gun action. For a start, Jet plays the guy who can kill everyone with one bullet each and his accuracy increases by holding the gun in stupid poses? It is only worth speaking about the end fight in this movie at any length. Ngai Sing has a short but sweet moment earlier on in the film when he kills some guards at a mortuary with his bayonet, and generally makes a more entertaining villain than Yu Rong Guang in the Enforcer.



As this is a gun based movie, the one bit of credit this film deserves is for Jet filling the kitchen with gas, and thus meaning the last 15 minutes involve knife fighting and unarmed combat. I am always interested when people make modern kung fu flicks to see how they can take guns realistically out of the action for a period. This problem was famously touched upon in Legendary Weapons of China and Once Upon a Time in China. The kung fu sees Jet brutally take out about 15 bad guys with an assortment of sharp kitchen implements and then only he and Sing are left.

The end fight is truly lacking in inspiration unfortunately, and Sing tries to emulate the fast kicking of Ken Lo in Drunken Master 2. This was never going to work, and the 'wire enhancements' lead to some appalling moments, plus who was responsible for Jet using Venetian blinds as a weapon? Yuen Tak and Corey Yuen should really be ashamed of themselves for this one. Even though it is above par for Hollywood standards, it is desperately lower than either of their best. For Corey see Hitman in the Hand of the Buddha, Drunken Master or Eastern Condors, and for Yuen Tak see Iceman Cometh and Operation Scorpio.



Another Dismal Disney Disc (a DDD as they shall now be known). This again is dreadfully dubbed and is two minutes shorter than the World Video 1998 offering. This is a Widescreen version which is preferable to World Video's full screen version but as mentioned there is no Cantonese audio track. Pitifully short on extras again and another shocking title change which is completely unnecessary and culturally ignorant.


This film would definitely get the vote ahead of The Enforcer in my books. This is not for any big plus points though, but rather a lack of so many negatives. Both have stale and clichéd plots and Jet plays instantly forgettable roles. The discs and title change are shocking and Corey Yuen's direction and choreography must be seen as low points of his career. The reason I prefer this to The Enforcer is because the kid is not as annoying and does not start fighting at the end, plus the action is a bit more brutal. Ngai Sing just edges Yu Rong Guang as a better villain and Christy seems more comfortable than Anita Mui as Jet's love interest. This film marks Jet's movement to modern day Kung Fu which eventually took him to America and away from his golden days of period Kung Fu. He is sadly missed and we can only hope he returns sooner rather than later.






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