Like the team of Oracle and Bone Studios, as part of my education on 80s Hong Kong, I set about watching as many relevant films from that time period as I could. One such film was Yes, Madam!, an iconic work of cinema which directly inspired two characters in Project Shenmue, and which, even if you’ve never seen the full film, you’ve seen images from at least.

The iconic shot of Michelle Yeoh and Cynthia Rothrock, two massive stars in their own right, standing side by side as they prepare for an epic fight scene, is one that you’ve probably seen floating around the internet at some point in your life. And it’s easy to assume from that shot that Yes, Madam! is a buddy cop movie, a wunza plot where two badass gals kick some butt and do awesome, girl power shenanigans. This was Yeoh’s first lead role, and Rothrock’s first role ever, and the fact that they team up to kick ass seems like it would be awesome. That’s what the film is billed as: Michelle Yeoh and Cynthia Rothrock kick ass.

The problem is that that’s not what the movie actually is.

Despite being billed as the stars of the film (and easily being the best parts of said film), Yeoh and Rothrock only appear for about a third of Yes, Madam!‘s runtime. Let me repeat that. A third. The rest of the runtime is spent showcasing a group of bumbling chucklefucks who stumble upon the evidence that Yeoh and Rothrock need for their case, and who subsequently get themselves way in over their heads as the gangsters Yeoh and Rothrock are pursuing try to retrieve said evidence.

It’s not that these bumbling thieves aren’t entertaining. They definitely are. But they also demonstrate how Yes, Madam! isn’t really interested in telling the story of its leads, instead focusing on folks who should be side characters at best. This is (ostensibly) a buddy cop movie. You have two cops from two different sides of the world trying to overcome their differences so that they can see justice done. Why are you shifting focus away from them and onto these idiots and their slapstick antics?

I’m not kidding. So much of the runtime of Yes, Madam! is spent on these dudes (And no I can’t be bothered to remember their names. I know one is played by Tsui Hark and another is played by Sammo Hung, but that’s about all I care to recall.) that we don’t have time to develop Yeoh and Rothrock’s relationship. We see Rothrock show up at the airport. We see her express frustration at Hong Kong. And then we see her and Yeoh side by side for the climax.

When such a moment occurs, we should feel a sense of pride, we should cry out “Yeah!” as these characters finally become buddies and work together to take down the bad guy. That’s certainly the vibe people who watch the climax out of context seem to feel, and the vibe the movie wants you to feel. But when I actually saw it in the context of the full film, I felt NOTHING. Because these two aren’t friends. They aren’t even colleagues. They’ve barely interacted with each other at all, and now the movie wants me to care about them? I’m sorry, but that’s a no from me.

Basically, if you picture a cut of Rush Hour where Chris Penn gets more focus and screentime than Jackie Chan or Chris Tucker, but which still has those two on the poster and promotional material, you can understand the basic problem with Yes, Madam! The film is like a restaurant I went to in South Carolina once, where the burger I ordered was really small and the extra fries were the size of my head. And those fries were so bland and tasteless. I needed copious amounts of ketchup to make them edible. My advice? Watch the cool, badass fight scene at the end, maybe the cool action sequence at the airport, and then just make up a connective plot in your head. I can assure you, whatever you imagine will be more interesting than what actually happens in the film.