A few years ago I was heavily into all things Hong Kong Action Cinema and explored not only the movies of the legendary Jackie Chan but everything from John Woo to Tsui Hark and Jet Li. I got pretty burnt out it has to be said but occasionally I’ll revisit that interest when I see one of the classics get the Blu-ray treatment. This 1985 action comedy has Chan as rule-breaking super-cop Ka-Kui, who following a successful raid on a shanty town to capture a notorious drug dealer, finds himself looking after a witness (played by genre queen Brigitte Lin).
This 1985 movie, the first in the long-running series … was a huge hit and won awards in it’s native land whilst helping turn Jackie Chan into the superstar we all know him as. Watching this movie now, whilst well structured and entertaining throughout, seems to lean a little too heavily towards comedy with drawn-out scenes devoted to silly gags and comical situations involving his girlfriend (Maggie Cheung) and often bumbling co-workers. Thankfully when the action does kick in it’s terrific, showcased in three varied scenes that prove without a doubt why Chan’s so respected, not just as a martial artist but also as a choreographer and daredevil with his unique brand of environment-using stunt work. Influences from the likes of Buster Keaton are obvious and even all these years later, watching him is mesmerising. Not exactly the greatest action movie Chan’s ever done or even his best movie but it’s still a classic for what it set in motion.
This UK Blu-ray from Eureka! Is presented as a double feature box set with Police Story 2 and boasts a detailed booklet as well as a wealth of extra features. We get three cuts of the movie (the original release, the Japanese extended cut & a shorter American home video cut), behind the scenes featurettes, archive interviews, a brief over-view of Chan’s stunt wok, deleted scenes and trailers. The movie itself is in decent shape, with a 4K re-mastered image that whilst boasting nice detail and vibrancy, some darker scenes suffer from a smudgy, overly dark appearance. The soundtrack is good though with both 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio soundtracks presented in English dubbed and Cantonese subtitled, although the movie’s age means those surrounds are barely used. Overall, solid treatment for a movie that’s still a great deal of fun.
I used to be, and probably still am a big fan of Jackie Chan, and have at one time or another seen a great deal of his back catalogue. In subsequent years I’ll admit he’s gone off my radar even though I realise he still makes movies. Yet this latest caught my eye as it had been granted a cinema release at one stage and good word of mouth. Chan plays Quan, a local Chinese restaurant owner living in London who unfortunately witnesses a bombing outside a shop where his daughter goes, leading to her death. Vowing to track down those responsible, he soon latches onto Liam Hennessey (Pierce Brosnan) who’s former links to the IRA may prove invaluable.
You could call it Chan’s version of all those copy-cat Liam Neeson thrillers we’ve seen of late and has echoes of Taken. Chan may not be the most compelling of actors and his grasp of English is still hit and miss … but he’s a likeable presence and well, can still kick ass and defy gravity even in his sixties. Pierce Brosnan however completely steals the show as a not so subtle take on former Sin Fein leader Gerry Adams, and his spot-on Northern Ireland accent brings a level of authenticity to proceedings. Also it was interesting having the backdrop of the IRA troubles and director Martin Campbell (Golden Eye) delivers a realistic and thrilling movie with plenty of action and intrigue.
I’s a shame then that really, it hasn’t much going for it we haven’t seen dozens of times before. It’s engaging and mostly well acted especially from Brosnan, but it’s sense of deja-vu mares what is otherwise a solid thriller, and one certainly more convincing and gritty that I’d normally expect from Chan.
Action legend Jackie Chan stars as a peasant soldier in ancient China who survives a battle only to discover that the General of the opposing army is also alive, but injured. Seeing the General as his meal ticket to a reward, he takes him hostage. Along the way they face obstacles such as blood thirsty bandits and a cunning woman out for revenge, whilst an evil Prince attempts to track them down.
Based on a story by Chan himself, this enjoyable adventure film offered some beautiful locations, with some gorgeous cinematography and an interesting story with a likable turn from Chan and good support from Leehom Wang as the general. Marketed as an action-comedy however, this didn’t particularly excel in either department. It’s mildly amusing and has a few moments of quality acrobatics from Chan, but otherwise this is more of a realistic adventure not dissimilar to something Hollywood would make. Director Sheng Ding does a commendable job overall, but with a limited script that offered only a few stand-out moments – I came away thinking that much of this movie’s potential had been wasted. For fan’s of Jackie Chan, who delivers a very good performance here, this is still entertaining but there remains much better out there, both from Chan and the far-eastern movie scene.
I had mixed feelings about this one when it was first announced. Will Smith’s pint-sized son stepping into the shoes of 80s non-heart throb Ralph Macchio? But then I saw the trailer, and with Mr Miyagi replaced by non-other than the legendary Jackie Chan – suddenly this was something worth seeing.
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