Director: Benny Chan; Writers: Benny Chan, Jackie Chan, Alan Yuen
With Jackie Chan, Louis Koo, Michael Hui, Gao Yuanyuan, Yuen Biao
Dragon Dynasty / Weinstein
Available Dec. 26, List Price $24.95
Chan, a star throughout Asia since the 1978 Drunken Master, has commuted between Hong Kong and Hollywood for the past decade, alternating Rush Hour and Shanghai action comedies with lower-budget Cantonese-language movies aimed at the home market. This one borrows from such American films as Little Miss Marker, Raising Arizona and 3 Men and a Baby: three low-level criminals (Chan, Koo and Hui) kidnap a rich couple's infant and, wouldn't you know, become the little one's loving and protective foster-dads. The movie, never released theatrically in the U.S., earned a respectable $20 million worldwide. Now Dragon Dynasty, the welcome Weinstein Company subsidiary devoted to Asian action films, gives it the full DVD treatment.
Much better-looking and slickly made than Rush Hour 3, this dramedy takes way too long (2 hr. 6 min.) to mosey through its familiar paces. Some of the farce elements involving the baby will seem perilously rough to American viewers it revolves inside a washing machine, sucks hard on Jackie's nipple, is tied to the back of a fast-moving security van during a car chase and, at the climax, gets revived with jumper cables! but, sorry, folks, that's standard Cantonese comedy. (So are the gay jokes, as when a cop in the van comes on to his partner and says, in a kind of English: "I'm from Brokebook Mountain.") The best stunt is toward the beginning. Forced off a 12th-story balcony by some gangsters, Jackie scutters down the building's facade by leaping from one jutting air conditioner to another till he hits the street. Nice.
The real joy for fans of Hong Kong movies in their '70s-to-'90s prime is in seeing so many grand old faces: Hui, who with his brothers Sam and Ricky made the most popular comedies of the '70s; Yuen Biao, Jackie's martial-arts schoolmate and frequent co-star, who here gets in some high kicks and pummeling punches; Ku Feng, whose action career comprises 50 years and some 250 features, including Jackie's 1977 36 Crazy Fists; Ken Lo, a Muy Thai fighting champion and longtime member of the Jackie Chan Stunt Team; and, as Hui's wife, bounteous Teresa Carpio. The new Hong Kong generation is well represented by Koo, an appealing comic actor who earned his dramatic chops in Johnnie To's Throw Down and Election, and, in smaller roles, Terence Yin, Cherrie Ying and top-of-the-Cantopops singer-actors Charlene Choi and Nicholas Tse. Even Bey Logan, the Brit author of books on Hong Kong's martial movies, has a bit as an ER doctor.
On the commentary track (in Cantonese with English subtitles, like the film), director Benny Chan notes that a Jackie Chan movie has to have a strong ending. And "the ending is always the outtakes" the behind-the-screen scenes where a stunt goes wrong and Jackie hurts himself. Back in the mid-'90s an American fan did a 2 hr. homemade compilation of Jackie action scenes; I showed the reel to the star, who was so impressed I gave him a copy. By now there could be a feature-length collection of Jackie's stunt-injury outtakes. It would make quite an instructional video, proving the pain this action star endures to give pleasure to moviegoers.
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