by Mark Ahn
The Premise in 30 words, for the 30 days of Junesploitation
Jackie Chan is a hotshot lawyer who knows kung fu and is inexplicably thirsty for love. Lots of dates, and eventually the bad guys, are foiled. Sammo Hung isn’t fat.
The Most Junesploitation-y Parts
PLAYING AGAINST TYPE - I am definitely not here to tell Jackie Chan what he can and cannot do, but I’m not sure if I can totally buy him playing a brash, amoral lawyer, let alone a brash, amoral lawyer who just happens to be really good at kung fu. Apparently, Hong Kong audiences weren’t sure if they could handle Sammo Hung as a cynical rogue instead of a timid dimwit, or Yuen Biao as a mentally unhinged chaos agent instead of an underdog scamp, either, because the movie underperformed in the box office. Reacting to a previous established trope? Totally Junesploitation.Kung Fu Hustle), Billy Chow (Fist of Legend), and Benny “the Jet” Urquidez, who plays the climactic villain in this and so many other films. I’m not always the guy that looks backward to say that what has come before is better, but I don’t think you’ll see a cast so loaded with action talent as the ones from this era (era).
The Best Bits
THE THREE DRAGONS - The “dragons” in the title refer to Chan, Hung, and Biao, who all started together in a Peking Opera school in Hong Kong, which gave them the acrobatics and weapons training that led to careers as actors and stunt doubles in the burgeoning HK movie industry. Chan, Hung, and Biao appear in three movies together (Project A and Wheels on Meals are the others), and their chemistry and timing is so easy and comfortable. They don’t really overshadow each other too much here; the movie comes alive not when they’re fighting the bad guys, but when they’re acting and goofing off of each other. Some articles call them the Three Stooges of Hong Kong for their action comedy, but I’d rather think of them as De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci; here’s hoping they get an Irishman-style sendoff later in their careers.
Junesploitation always means weird stuff
DON’T ASK QUESTIONS - Why does Chan play a lawyer that everybody seems to accept is really good at kung fu? Makes it seem like Chan is just playing himself, rather than a character. A kung fu fighting lawyer is totally fine, by the way; what’s weird is how it never gets questioned.