Michelle Yeoh punched her way into cinema history with a series of Hong Kong action films that flooded the US VHS market. Yes, Madam! was both her first starring role and one of the most influential action films of all time, acting as a big, bold announcement of an acting talent that can kick ass and act with the best of them. The 1985 classic has received a new Blu-ray release from Eureka Entertainment with an excellent new HD presentation sourced from a new 2K restoration, plus a great selection of supplements. This release comes Highly Recommended!
You needn’t look far into the film’s production credits to see why Yes, Madam! was so successful. Right behind the scenes was none other than Sammo Hung, the Hong Kong martial arts filmmaking master with deservedly, a reputation for not being a feminist’s greatest ally. He was working with Dickson Poon, a co-owner of the newly minted D&B Films, to refresh the theatrical market with some new blood. Luckily for the audience, that new blood came in the form of Michelle Yeoh, the steely, fierce ballet dancer and model who impressed industry peons like Sammo Hung and skyrocketed to international stardom.
Yes, Madam! has had so many different titles over the years in different markets, although that’s indicative of the many sly ways production companies like D&B Films could repackage and distribute their product. Somewhat surprisingly, those multiple titles didn’t reflect that a ton of different cuts of the film were being cobbled for international release. The bewildering arrival of the girls-with-guns martial arts subgenre didn’t need to soften or embolden its blows for different audiences, speaking even more to the power of Yeoh’s prowess commanding attention across the globe.
Yeoh wasn’t even the only martial arts legend to have her first starring role in Yes, Madam! Cynthia Rothrock, after being discovered by Golden Harvest in 1983, also injected new blood into the martial arts genre with her ass-kicking talents. The duo of Yeoh and Rothrock would continue to try to be emulated and copied by other filmmakers. Although Rothrock would return to the US for a string of efficient releases produced for the home video market, she remains a unique US-born talent that gained respect and notoriety in the Chinese film industry. A feat that not many can speak to, if any.
As for the plot, Yes, Madam! doesn’t exactly have the story to support the two strong women at the center of everything. D&B Films famously asked to add in humor after seeing the first cut, and even the humor in the first cut was mostly gifted to the male characters somewhat undercutting the authority of the female leads. But what stands out even with those added scenes, what stands out is just how truly dumb, dopey and incapable many of these men are in the presence of women. Not exactly a feminist’s dream action film, to be sure, but it sure looks and feels much less like the cloying efforts from Hollywood blockbusters as of late.
All in all, Yes, Madam! is a bewilderingly good time that only gets better with each viewing. The combination of the modern setting with kung fu may have been originated by Police Story, released in the same year as this film, but it certainly feels more groundbreaking here. Especially with Michelle Yeoh delivering the hits.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-rays
Yes, Madam! kicks and punches its way to Blu-ray with a single-disc (BD50) release that comes Region B locked. The disc is housed in a clear Elite case with reversible artwork showcasing art by Darren Wheeling, with the reverse sleeve showcasing original artwork. A 19-page booklet featuring new writing by James Oliver is also included as well. The case comes housed in a limited-edition slipcover featuring the same art by Darren Wheeling seen on the sleeve. The BD50 disc fires up to a standard menu screen with options to play the Hong Kong Version, International Export Version, or special features in one long list.
NOTE - Images have not been sourced from the disc, we haven't been able to pull images but when we can we'll circle back to update this review.
To be honest, I was a great deal nervous about this release since the new 2K restoration was performed by Fortune Star and not Eureka Entertainment themselves. Fortune Star used to release some upscaled SD masters on Blu-ray in the early 2010s, although their masters have greatly increased in quality since then. And this new 1080p AVC-encoded presentation is indicative of that growth, thankfully. This is a really nice and clean presentation, with film grain being a bit lighter than anticipated, although the levels change during optical effects and the title sequence.
The source is in very good condition with not much damage to note throughout. If you’re wondering about the overall color grading on this one, rest assured knowing all the bold colors of Hong Kong in the mid-80s pops just enough. Flesh tones are nice and balanced, as are black levels. Pastels in particular stand out but don’t overtake the picture. This is a massive upgrade over the 2011 Blu-ray from Hong Kong.
The International Export Version of Yes, Madam! is also included in this set and reportedly sourced from another 2K restoration. The quality is very much the same as the Theatrical Cut, although it does tend to look a bit softer in certain sequences.
There’s a truly massive selection of audio options to choose from. The Theatrical Cut is gifted with three options to choose from: a Cantonese mono track from the theatrical mix, a Cantonese mono track from the home video mix and an English 5.1 surround track from the home video dub. All three tracks are remarkably clean, although I give the edge to the Cantonese theatrical mix for offering the most honest and full soundscape that the post-dubbed film is capable of. Yes, Madam! mostly dominates the mid-range and it’s all delivered well here despite the limitations.
The International Export Version comes with an English LPCM mono track that’s similarly clean and without damage.
Eureka Entertainment offers a great selection of supplements to choose from here, with both newly produced commentaries from martial arts experts and interviews with talent. The new interview with Cynthia Rothrock is very enjoyable, as she details breathlessly just how she broke into the Hong Kong film industry. The select-scene commentary from her is a terrific addition, as she’s very good at breaking down each complicated move and the considerations for each.
The girls-with-guns martial arts subgenre kicked off with Yes, Madam! and people have been trying to land those same kicks for decades to no avail. Eureka Entertainment presents the 1985 classic on Blu-ray with a great HD presentation, a ton of audio choices and a great selection of supplements to become Highly Recommended!