J.C.'s INTERNATIONAL WORKING VACATIONS!THE 'ARMOUR OF GOD' TRILOGY (1986-2012) (Directed by Jackie Chan)Though they're often compared to the "Indiana Jones" series, these three star vehicles are closer to the Angelina Jolie "Tomb Raider" movies in spirit and execution. Unlike Indy's reverence to the past, 'Asian Hawk' (or 'Condor' in the 2nd movie) doesn't have an emotional or intellectual attachment to the relics he seeks. He's in it for the thrill of the hunt and to profit afterwards, which means 'Hawk' works extra hard for the money and doesn't have a bed of money to fall back on (ahem, Croft Manor, cough!). And it should be common knowledge by now, but most dubbed English voices in a Jackie Chan movie (except his own) should be assumed to be God-awful by default. At least Jackie dubbed most of his library in the late 90's after "Rumble In the Bronx" hit it big, when his English was a little better than before.ARMOUR OF GOD (1986, Crackle) for the first time. Destinations: Austria, France, Spain, Morocco, Yugoslavia. There's a scene toward the end of "Armour of God" when J.C. is shown in a medium close-up rappelling down what appears to be a small hill. 'How quaint,' I thought watching this, 'they thought it was impressive back then to show Jackie doing mundane action and not just the big stunts.' But without cutting the camera zooms out to reveal that Chan is rappelling down a cliff that's hundreds of feet deep, right next to a Yugoslavian monastery where the bad guys (fanatical monks) are holding the treasure our hero's after. That's a perfect summary of Jackie Chan movies: you tend to focus on the big stunts rather than the small details, but J.C. and his small army of stuntmen/filmmakers pay attention to everything. Jackie's "Transformers"-meets-"Knight Rider" Mitsubishi car, for example, never crashes or even gets a dent while the bad guys' fleet (also Mitsubishi) wrecks plenty during the decent-for-'86 obligatory car chase. Too bad this attention to detail slips during the climactic fight between our hero and a team of multi-ethnic high-heeled lethal ladies, who are clearly men wearing wigs and dark make-up during the insert shots. :-O Despite retaining the child-like appeal of most of Chan's movies during its "Temple of Doom"-ish opening, "Armour of God" immediately shows a super violent and bloody shoot-out when Rosamund Kwan is kidnapped from a fashion show (with silly English song 'Midnight Rider' intercut with the carnage) that makes this inappropriate for younger viewers. Alan Tam and Lola Forner are comedic dead weight as Hawk's sidekicks, but thankfully they disappear in time for the movie's explosive (as in TNT sticks), entertaining finale. Silly non-sensical J.C. fun. 3.25 BLOOD-SOAKED FASHION RUNWAYS (out of 5).
ARMOUR OF GOD II: OPERATION CONDOR (1991, PLEX). Destinations: Madrid, Morocco, Spain, The Philippines.Part of Miramax/Dimension's first wave of late 90's English dubbed, U.S. theatrical releases of Jackie Chan movies after the financial success of 1995's "Rumble in the Bronx," I remember seeing parts of this (the giant plastic ball escape from the savages, the gun-grab stunt at naked blondie's room, etc.) at a packed movie house that had the audience oohh-ing and ahh-ing at Chan's dexterity. Here our hero (called 'Jackie' by almost everyone he meets despite being named 'Condor' at the start) is after Nazi gold buried in the middle of the Sahara Desert at the behest of UN representative Ada (Carol Cheng). Along the way Condor's entourage grows up to three women (Eva Cobo's Elsa and Shôko Ikeda's Momoko), who collectively couldn't touch the pinky finger of Michelle Yeoh in 1992's "Supercop." It gets annoying to see/hear all three women crying for Jackie's help whenever they're in peril, which is always. At least they're good at wearing/tossing helmets against the one black guy in the entire roster of baddies. :-(J.C. can still pull off his usual quota of crazy/cool moves (his stunts during a motorcycle chase against a fleet of vehicles earn the double/triple take treatment), but "Operation Condor" focuses mostly on lengthy indoor set-pieces (a Moroccan hotel siege, a wind tunnel hangar fight, etc.) to either show-off how much money they could spend or to have better control over their environment. Almost every enemy soldier is a silly stereotype, and even the wheelchair-bound Nazi heel (Aldo Sambrel's 'Adolf') turns into a good guy at the end. Still silly fun, but it outstays its welcome by the end. 3 PET SCORPIONS NAMED DING DING (out of 5).
CHINESE ZODIAC, aka CZ12 (2012, TUBI) for the first time. Destinations: China, France, Latvia, Taiwan, Vanuatu.To celebrate achieving a couple of World Record milestones in his impressive career (having the most credits in a single feature at 15, the actor who has performed the most stunts ever), Chan brought back his 'Armour of God' franchise after a 21-year hiatus. Critics hated it, but "CZ12" remains J.C.'s biggest money-making hit to date. Asian Hawk and his "Mission: Impossible"-type cadre of high-tech/fighting assistants are after the 12 bronze heads of the animals of the Chinese Zodiac stolen during a 19th century foreign invasion. Since there is more awareness in the population about nations' cultural heritage becoming a collector's commodity, Hawk has to deal with fake bronze heads being passed as legitimate when he targets the rich folks he wants to steal them from. Lucky for him a ditzy French heiress (Laura Weissbecker) not only has a couple of the bronze heads he wants, but a mysterious distant relative who may have actually helped steal them from China a century and a half prior. Hawk and his team have to conceal their true motives from Chinese cultural expert Coco (Helen Yao) to continue receiving her services, even as they travel to a remote island looking for a French vessel filled with the bronze heads and... something else? Even at 58 years of age, J.C. (which is what almost every character refers to him as, much better than 'Jackie') can still pull off stunt work that puts most actors/stuntmen to shame. There is too-obvious CG fakery going around him (garden mazes, exploding pressure tanks, etc.), but that's still Chan pulling some sick moves during a game of 'Ground is Lava' against a competing art thief (Alaa Safi's Vulture) or body blading with a skate suit past trigger-happy Russian soldiers. Even for a franchise notorious for its silliness the encounter with a group of multi-ethnic pirates (including a Jack Sparrow-lookalike) reaches an apex of goofiness that almost requires cartoon sound effects to feel complete. Shame the young men/women surrounding the hero don't leave an impression (unlike the IMF people Ethan Hunt surrounds himself with), and the last act's attempt to make Hawk feel guilty for the human suffering antique sales bring to regular folks rings hollow as hell. But really, who cares when "CZ12" ends with a human flying dragon atop a giant exploding volcano? And even by the high standards of stunt reels on Jackie Chan movies, the end credits of this one are in a league of their own. 3.5 OLIVER PLATT-AS-BIG-BAD MANDARIN INSULTS (out of 5).
One more just for shits and giggles. :-PRenny Harlin's SKIPTRACE (2016, VUDU) for the first time; also streaming free with ads on ROKU Channel and PLEX. Destinations: China (mainland), Hong Kong, Mongolia.The only movie Harlin has directed since 1999's "Deep Blue Sea" that's been a legitimate hit ($136 million box office returns against a $32 million budget, mostly from Chinese and Asian territories), "Skiptrace" tries to recreate the "Rush Hour" magic of the opposite-cultures-getting-along chemistry with a light "Midnight Run" vibe thrown into the mix. Johnny Knoxville (a last-minute replacement for Sean William Scott) plays Connor Watts, a fast-talking American conman who witnesses Chinese mafia boss Victor Wong, aka The Matador (Winston Chao), murdering a woman with incriminating evidence against him. Hong Kong detective Bennie Chan (J.C.), who holds a grudge against Wong for killing his partner (as seen during an opening prologue set a decade prior) but can't prove it in court, springs into action when his Goddaughter Samantha (Fan Bingbing) lets him know that Connor has been kidnapped by Russian gangsters. If he isn't brought back to Macao to return the money he won at the casino, Samantha's life will be in danger.Sticking close to home for this one (the Russian segments of the story are clearly shot in Asian-as-Russia locations or CG substitutes), "Skiptrace" gave me about all the fighting, reconciliations, pretend double/triple-crosses and cracks at humor the forced pairing of Chan and Knoxville (neither terrible or good, just 'meh') could bring to an Asian regional adventure road trip. The movie comes alive briefly whenever a team of Russian hitmen (and WWE's Eve Torres as Dasha) working for a crime boss show up to try to get Connor back, which pays off during an extended final action set-piece that rips off about a dozen 90's movies ("Goldeneye," "Titanic") before mercifully ending. 62-years-old when it was made, J.C. does his damndest to push this heavy boulder up a very stiff cliff by smiling, arguing, kicking and fighting like an action star decades younger. Your mileage may vary if you're a fan of Johnny Knoxville (I'm not), but whatever fun you can derive from "Skiptrace" is coming from J.C. The cultural awkwardness of a Finnish action director who made it big in the States moonlighting in the Chinese market (and striking it rich once) also helps... a little. 2.5 FARM-TRAINED ALPACAS (out of 5).
My boy Renny's career arc is fascinating to me. From small horror films to a massive budget in Die Hard 2 to a dependable journeyman director to a five time Razzie nominee to making films in Eastern Europe and China, and his next movie is the third installment in a terrible Finnish sex comedy franchise. Oh how the mighty have fallen.
Renny still wants to direct, and he's happy to do so as long as someone puts up the money. But yeah, just saw "The Misfits" in a movie theater... 'no es bueno.' :-(
The Big Brawl aka Battle Creek Brawl (1980, dir. Robert Clouse)In a story set in the 30's (I think?), Jackie Chan takes on gangsters threatening his father's restaurant, takes part in a rollerblade race, and is dragooned to fight in an all-out street brawl in Texas.The fight scenes are obviously the main attraction, and they're mostly well done and varied enough to be entertaining. The plot is slight and I've never been a big fan of Chan's comedy stylings. Lalo Schifrin's score might be my favorite thing in this movie.When the crowd is chanting Jackie Chan's character's name "Jerry! Jerry!", it instantly made me think of Jerry Springer. What's wrong with me?The Finnish title translates as The Dragon Fights.
Speaking of how the mighty have fallen, what happened to Robert Clouse? From "Enter the Dragon" to "Gymkata" to a last-minute career resurgence with the first two "China O'Brien" movies. You'd think the guy who directed the movie that made Bruce Lee an international superstar would have done it again for Chan, Rothrock or... gulp, Kurt Thomas? :-P
Putting Jackie Chan in an American period piece is a dicey proposition, and it mostly doesn't work here. I was just impressed that the filmmakers had no qualms giving him a white girlfriend... the kind of thing that racist white audiences often rebel at.
THUBDERBOLT (1995)Hadn't seen this in years and forgotten almost all the plot. Jackie plays a mechanic who helps the police catch a German super criminal who likes to race cars. The criminal busts out, destroys Jackie's garage (in spectacularly OTT fashion), kidnaps Jackie's sisters and challenges him to a race to win them back. And I don't mean a street race - I mean a full on spectators, multiple competitors and race track affair. For the first hour or so it was really good. The car chase was fun, Jackie's garage getting destroyed was cool and there's a fun fight in a pachinko hall but... the film ends with the most interminably dull car race. No punches are thrown, no stunts (other than a few car crashes). Bit of damp squib but fans of the Fast and Furious movies might get a kick out of it.
Drunken Master (1978, dir. Yuen Woo Ping)Jackie plays a mischievous teenager (20-something?) whose antics get him reprimanded by his kung fu master dad and is forced to train with martial arts hermit “Beggar So” to learn the art of getting loaded on rice wine and kicking ass. But, there’s an assassin lurking around with the intent to kill Jackie’s dad, so you know shit’s gonna get real.Super fun watch. The exercise montages made my abs hurt. Jackie is impossibly ripped in this film. I love watch Jackie Chan smack the shit out of the bully.
Jackie Chan Day! Jackie Chan Day! Jackie Chan Day!!
Mr. Nice Guy (1997)Jackie plays a celebrity chef (sure why not) named Jackie (because of course he’s named Jackie) who ends up pursued by various hooligans and scalawags after accidentally switching a VHS tape of his cooking show with a tape of a drug deal gone bad. Then again, who cares what it’s about as long as Jackie gets to be Jackie?The action here is pretty uniformly awesome, and that’s what it’s all about. There’s the usual comic acrobatics that make his movies so much fun (plus the outtakes over the end credits, always a treat), and here there’s the addition of a climax full of crazy vehicular mayhem in which a whole bunch of property gets (oddly satisfyingly) destroyed by an enormous earth-mover. Man, I love this stuff.
Fantasy Mission Force - kinda Jackie, right?Fantasy Mission Force is one of the first movies I ever owned. It was a cheap VHS tape and I was so excited to own a Jackie Chan movie in the mid-80s. However, once I watched it, I absolutely hated it. I didn’t understand why Jackie was barely in it or what a Hong Kong mo lei tau movie was.Mo lei tau means nonsense, a type of slapstick that was developed in Hong Kong that places elements that should not belong together, often with anachronisms and things that should in no way go together.That explains why this movie, set during World War II, begins with the Japanese attack on Canada, where four generals, including Abraham Lincoln, are taken by the enemy. Lieutenant Don Wen leads the rescue, putting together a team. At first, he rejects James Bond, Rocky, Albert from Aces Go Places and Snake Plissken because he heard that he’s dead. He ends up with a dirty kind of dozen that includes two kilt-wearing weirdos, a homeless man named Old Sun, Greased Lightning the escape artist, Billy and Lily (Brigitte Lin, The Bride with the White Hair). They’re soon joined by two criminals who want money named Emily and Sammy (Jackie, finally showing up).Don Wen dies pretty quickly when some natives attack them, followed by cannibals led by a man in a tuxedo. That man would be Yu Jin Xiang and his music is that of Chor Lauheung, a martial arts soap opera in which the actor who plays this role, Adam Cheng, appeared on. He was typecast as a James Bond type, which is why he plays this role in the movie.After our gang kills them off, they must spend the night in a haunted house staffed by Chinese hopping vampires before they find the base. But when they get there, the generals are gone and the Japanese are all dead.They barely have a second to catch their breath before German troops in 1970s cars attack them, except they’re all Japanese and dressed like they’ve come out of Mad Max. Everyone in the cast is killed as the movie suddenly gets dark — I was ill-prepared for this narrative switch — and only Sammy, Emily and Old Sun survive, but the older man is soon killed by Don Wen, who survived and orchestrated the whole thing.This leads to a fight and Jackie of course wins, before driving off with the girl. But hey — Don Wen is playing by Jimmy Wang Yu, the man who starred in movies like Master of the Flying Guillotine and The One Armed Swordsmen.So why did Jackie make this movie? Well, he owed director Jimmy Wang Yu a favor, because Wang Yu negotiated on Chan’s behalf during a Triad dispute over his contract between Golden Harvest and Chan’s former employer Wei Lo. It’s also why Jackie made the movie Island of Fire.This movie is goofy beyond belief, with music stolen from Planet of the Apes, Halloween, Tourist Trap and The Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion. But best of all, it has Brigitte Lin shooting a bazooka. I’ve come around to this movie in my old age, but trust me, it’s really something.
I watched this movie a few times a couple of years ago and really had a lot of fun with it. I can only recommend it.
POLICE STORY 2 (1988, dir. Jackie Chan)Look, I didn’t like it near as much as the first one. There’s less action, the story isn’t as tight, and the emotional hook is basically just Jackie being a terrible boyfriend and trying to be forgiven. That being said, it’s still a totally solid action movie with some decent laughs and really fun fight scenes.
The Tuxedo (2002, dir. Kevin Donovan)Screw it, just read Roger's review: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-tuxedo-2002Who knew Roger Ebert's review of 2002's The Tuxedo would be an all-timer, and one where he becomes totally unhinged! I love it! (The movie was sub-par).
Bleeding Steel (2017)Jackie Chan is an inspector going after a bioengineered super soldier, but has to fake his death to protect his daughter. Decent action, cool looking costumes, and the humor isn't that bad either! Definitely worth the impulse blue ray purchase as disk replay.
Project A(1983) Sammo Hung , Jackie ChanAfter the navy is destroyed Jackie and his soldiers are ordered to join their hated rivals, the police. Their Mission? Take down the mob, pirates and government corruption. Considered by many to be one of Jackie's best and I can't really argue that. Truly funny with some wonderful fight scenes and some amazing stunts. The Harold Lloyd homage scene alone makes this worth the price of admission. That scene needs to be seen if only to justify what Jackie does to his body for our entertainment. Its free on Plexi.
Drunken Master (1978)Stand out moment: Nothing as crazy as a lot of later Jackie Chan movies, but the fight against the King of Bamboo is probably my favorite bit here as the tables and benches allow for a little bit more creativity in the fight choreography.
Drunken Master II (1994)Stand out Moment: While the fight against the Axe Gang is a very impressive set piece, the multiple ways fire gets used used during the climactic fight scene are crazy enough to put it over the top.
Winners & Sinners (1983)Stand out Moment: The Lucky Stars series is really more focused on ensemble comedy, with Jackie only being tangentially involved due to working on other films. However he gets a fun roller skate chase scene here that ends in a gloriously gratuitous car pile up.
My Lucky Stars (1984)Stand out Moment: I'm tempted to say that the best moment here is the few seconds Chan, Hung, and Biao are all on screen together. Really though it's Jackie fighting through an amusement park Haunted House which leads in to the climactic fight at the end.
Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars (1985)Stand out Moment: Sammo gets the best bit here wielding a pair of tennis racket's against a pair of sai. Jackie's character is injured during much of the climax and his fighting is limited. Apparently this is due to an injury Jackie sustained while filming Police Story at the same time.
Considering the stunts Jackie Chan did for Police Story, I am surprised he was still able to stand on his feet for another film at the time.
MAGNIFICENT BODYGUARDS (1978) A martial arts master is sent on a mission that takes him through bandit-led territory, but all is not as it seems. Jackie is just one of the ensemble in this one, rather than the star. A lot of fights border on overchoreographed dance-fighting, but still fun for what they are. There are a few gore effects that are so cheap and phony that I wonder if they are intentional jokes. This was originally released in 3-D, so there’s a lot of in-your-face shots. Also, the score might seem just a little familiar. I don’t know. I guess it’s a perfectly fine turn-your-brain-off punch ‘em up movie. 30 days of Chinese fantasy movies, day 19 PURSUIT FROM THE MIRROR (2020) There’s the mirror world, and there’s Earth. A girl escapes the mirror world and meets a young criminal in over his head. Then they… go shopping. I’m not sure what this movie is. There’s a love story, there are few fights, there’s blue lightning effects, but I don’t feel it adds up to much. In other news, I’ve watched so many of these that all my YouTube ads are Chinese commercials now. My favorite is the one where the guys in the cool boy band all go eat at McDonalds.
"I’ve watched so many of these that all my YouTube ads are Chinese commercials now." This is hilarious.
Twin Dragons (1992)Separated at birth, one twin is a fighting mechanic/racecar driver and the other is a famous conductor. After they end up in the same city, hijinks ensue. Good fight choreography, and humor that works most of the time. A very silly movie. But one that is definitely fun to watch.
Operation Condor (1992)Also Armour of God 2? Maybe? I don't know. This is the one where they are looking for nazi gold.Love this one. The whole ending in the underground base is fantastic. Since he's just called Jackie in this one, clearly he is playing himself as an actor/pop singer who decided one day to be a treasure hunter.
Rush Hour We just got back from vacation and what better way to ease back into reality than a couple of hours of Jackie. We were too tired to deal with subtitles, so Rush Hour it is. Tucker and Chan seem to be having great fun, then so do we. Rush Hour is not great at any one thing, but it is fun in so many ways.
Amour of God (1986, dir. Jackie Chan & Eric Tsang)It’s a Jackie Chan movie... so daring stunts (tree branch!) and questionable humour (Lola Forner!) are the standard. I like seeing Jackie in adventure mode, so the nonsense plot does its job in that regard. Also features a really fun car chase. When the guys perusing Jackie hop onto a series of motorbikes, you know there’s some Wylie Coyote business coming. It doesn’t disappoint.
FIRST STRIKE (1997) A very enjoyable Jackie Chan vehicle that has him traveling the world as a cop on various assignments. Jackie goes from the Ukraine to Russia, finally ending up in Australia. I pretty quickly figured out not to worry too much about the plot, which is just a structure to set up the action set-pieces. There is a Bond-esque chase on skis and snowboard, an underwater fight, and Jackie hilariously kicking butt on stilts during a parade. All the props he uses in the fights add to the fun, particularly the ladders. Though I have not watched enough of Chan’s films to rank First Strike, I cannot deny being entertained by it.
The Prisoner (1990)Based on Jackie Chan's top billing and the description, I was expecting something completely different. Not that this was bad, but not what I thought it would be. Not enough fights.
Fearless Hyena (1979)Directed by Jackie ChanChuck Jones and Bruce Lee had a baby, and it was Jackie Chan. Relentless and inventive. The prowess and prodigiousness of his style in this movie, is so much better than any his American films, they might as well be from different planets. Star, director, fight choreographer, writer, the most talented guy on the planet at that moment? Maybe. I knew there was ample hype, I didn’t know why, now I do. A surprise.
The Legend of Drunken Master (1994)An innocent smuggling/tax evasion scheme goes awry when two identical looking packages get mixed up on a train, setting in motion a comedy of errors which results in JC having to bring back the forbidden art of drunken boxing in order to thwart a devious Western diplomat who's stealing historical Chinese artifacts.Jackie Chan's goofy emoting during all the slapstick fight scenes is next level, but he also gets great help from a fun supporting cast, especially Anita Mui who very nearly steals the show as JC's mischievous, mahjong-addicted stepmother (does it matter that she's 31 here and he's 40? of course not!). Her comedic timing, body language and facial expressions are every bit as hilarious as Jackie's. I'm far from being an expert on Chan's filmography, but this movie must surely rank somewhere around the top tier.
Rumble In The Bronx (1995)I had never seen this one, despite it being one of his better known. Watched it with the kids, and a good time was had by all. I was expecting an ending showdown between the local street gang and the diamond thugs, but it got much crazier, both in stunts and plot. It was amusing how many little bits I recognized from GIF's I had seen at one point or another.
Wheels on Meals (1984)Because The Prisoner was so disappointing, I put on the last 20 minutes of this...which I do a lot.
Jackie Chan vs. Benny 'The Jet' Urquidez is your spirit animal, Angela? ;-)
Police Story (1985) - Rumble in the Bronx was my intro to Jackie Chan back in the day, but this is my first time watching what might be his signature film. written by, directed by, and starring Jackie, it's a fantastic showcase of his action, comedy, and drama skills. the plot gets a bit messy in the middle (and arguably falls apart in the end) but it's a great watch throughout.
Police Story (1985)The closing fight scene is at the mall! Recommended.
Assuming the mall hasn't gone out of business where you live. :-(
I didn't say it was my mall
MR. NICE GUY (1997, dir. Sammo Hung)I love this movie. The construction site sequence is one of my favorite Jackie Chan set pieces. Watching it with my son as his first exposure to Jackie Chan. He was a fan.
Snake in the Eagle's Shadow (1978 - Yuen Woo-ping)Jackie Chan was a busy fella in 1978, starring in 6 movies. Since I only watched Drunken Master and this one, I can only imagine that the rest should look similar to these two. They are fun, a bit silly, have great training sequences and therefor are a good watch.