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DragonClaws

June 2017 Mutual Review Thread

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Pedicab Driver

Directed by Sammo Hung

Before coming into this film, I expected to love it. What I didn't expect was to love it as much as I do, so much so that I'm willing to consider it probably my new favourite martial arts film. Here are a few words on why:

First and foremost, Pedicab Driver is actually really well directed. Many of these martial arts actors turned directors don't really have much in the way of directorial skill, but they do know exactly what they want to show on screen so the camerawork tends to be very functional (which I should add is better than what most directors can claim). Sammo Hung isn't exactly an exception when it comes to directing, but what he lacks in creativity with the camera, he makes up for in dramatic chops and pure heart. There are many establishing shots giving us a great view of the location and time period while the people that inhabit the film give it that extra flavour. Pedicab Driver is a love letter to the genre we all know and love and Hung makes sure to allow us to cherish every detail from the food stalls littering the streets, the pedicabs whizzing through the town, and the whimsical soundtrack that only beckons us to stay. The film starts off as a martial arts romantic comedy about the lives of two friends who are desperate for love, but it very quickly turns around and starts to explore the dark underbelly of prostitution and the implications it has for society and the people involved.

And I think I probably don't need to mention this, but the fights are absolutely stunning. As with all Hung films, the choreography is fast, flashy and mixes brutality with light hearted flourishes. A standout fight is actually one that is totally irrelevant to the plot, but sees an extended cameo from Lau Kar-Leung who fights Hung in what is possibly one of the best choreographed fights to ever be put to screen. Any description I could give wouldn't do this fight justice, but I love the fact that many of these older martial arts films would gladly sidetrack the narrative just to get a fight in, even if it served no purpose beyond spectacle. Unfortunately the fights never quite get as great this irrelevant one, but due to the added stakes of each subsequent fight, you'll feel yourself rooting for the good guys so hard that you'll have a hard time sitting while watching. At least this is what happened to me.

This brings us to the dramatic chops I mentioned earlier. While I'm sure the main purpose of this film, like most martial arts films of the time, was to show off some beautifully choreographed fights, what sets this far above most is the fact that the drama actually works. It isn't just good drama for a martial arts film, but even if you removed the martial arts from the film, it'd still work as a good drama. While it does tend to  fall into melodramatic bouts, the emotions that are felt are totally heart warming and heart breaking. In the more tragic relationship of the two, it's the little moments that count - Max Mok staring at Fennie Yuen in the reflection of his pedicab mirror, Mok throwing a tarp over his pedicabs hood to plug a hole that has water leaking onto Yuen - when the reality catches up to them, the tragedy just hits that much harder.

Of course this wouldn't be a Hung film without some of his usual light hearted humour. I love that the occasional scene that should be dark and dramatic is handled with a light hearted touch. Some of these scenes, if handled by a different director like John Woo, would stoop so far into melodrama that it would just feel ridiculous. The light heartedness gives it just enough levity to prevent the drama from becoming overwrought, but not enough to completely overwrite the scenes purpose. One such scene sees our four main guys attempting to force Yuens into saying she wants to marry Moks character with the usual "if you don't say it, I guess we'll have to take him away" shtick. A scene that follows shows all the friends sell their pedicabs to pay for the wedding. While much of this is done in a humorous manner, Hung makes sure that it all serves a purpose and it only serves to strengthen the bonds between these best friends.

To summarise, Pedicab Driver isn't just a great martial arts film, it's also a great film full stop. It's a film about friendship, love, life and our ultimate reality. It's a tragedy, but it's also optimistic. It's a great change of pace from the usual martial arts film only concerned with spectacle. In a recent interview with Hung, he mentioned that he probably had the chance to work with maybe only four or five great scripts as a director. I'm gonna go ahead and assume that this is one of them because it is damn great.

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2 hours ago, Writ said:

...but I love the fact that many of these older martial arts films would gladly sidetrack the narrative just to get a fight in, even if it served no purpose beyond spectacle.

Yes!!! As long as the fight is worth its salt. When it's lame (usually in a lame movie) then I get a little ill. If there should be any redeeming quality to a MA film, it should be the fight scenes. The great thing about the Sammo vs Pops fight is that it has the right amount of humor and astounding choreography to make it one of those scenes you can never tire of watching. Sammo does drama really well, whether acting or directing. Good write up, @Writ

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7 hours ago, Writ said:

Pedicab Driver

Directed by Sammo Hung

Before coming into this film, I expected to love it. What I didn't expect was to love it as much as I do, so much so that I'm willing to consider it probably my new favourite martial arts film. Here are a few words on why:

Great write up @Writ and thanks for contributing to this months theme, enjoyed reading your thoughts on Pedicab Driver.

Do you have any over 80's related reviews planned for this month?.

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THE PROTECTOR    (US version 1985)   Run time: 95 mins.

Stars: Jackie Chan, Danny Aiello, Kim Bass, Roy Chiao, Saun Ellis, Moon Lee, Bill “Superfoot” Wallace

Writer & Director: James Glickenhaus

MA Coordinators: Mars, Paul Wong, Wan Fat, Billy Lai, Stanley Chow

(I’m going to treat this review a bit differently than normal, so bear with me. It’s going to be rather detailed, longer, and contain some spoilers. You’ve been warned.)

The movie opens with a gang, which is a throwaway mixture of The Warriors and The Road Warrior, hijacking a semi-truck to boost its electronics. Be sure to pay extra special attention to this…because it has nothing to do with the rest of the story whatsoever, except for Officer Billy Wong (JC) and his partner to respond to the call and make fun of the driver.

It’s Wong’s tenth anniversary of being in the US, and having worked the night shift, he and his partner stop by a bar for a celebratory drink. (Because that’s what you do at 7 o’clock in the morning.) It just so happens they arrive there only minutes before 4 gunmen burst in to rob the joint. (One gunman is played by an uncredited John William Minton aka Big John Studd, at the time a member of the World Wrestling Federation during the 80’s. He was best known for having a longstanding “feud” with Andre the Giant. Minton died in 1994 from liver cancer. The recurring tumors in his body were believed to have been brought on by his excessive use of human growth hormones, a popular trend during that era, which reshaped his skeleton and musculature.) However, this doesn’t play out as an opportunity for Chan to display his martial art chops. No, it’s a shootout that culminates in a boat chase after the lead gunman, ending with an explosive collision with Billy being hoisted away on a lifeline by a chopper.

This results in Billy getting chewed out by his captain, who scolds him by calling him a “supercop” at one point. (A little moment of foreshadowing, anyone?) 

Billy gets put on a crowd control detail at a fashion show with Danny Garoni (DA). The hostess is Laura Shapiro (SE). After meeting her, an intimidating fellow named Benny Garucci (BW) threatens the 2 cops for making small talk with her. Moments later, masked gunmen burst through the skylight, firing weapons, and kidnap Laura. While every other patron crouches in fear, Billy and Garoni stand around with their hands ups, watching the kidnapping like it’s an everyday occurrence. 

During a briefing with their superiors, it’s determined that Laura’s father is in cahoots with a HK kingpin named Harold Ko (RC), running heroin from HK to NYC. Because of Billy’s HK contacts and Garoni’s time in SE Asia, they are sent to Hong Kong to locate the girl. Once there, they check in with British Commandant Whitehead and happen to snag a lead about a high dollar massage parlor owned by Ko. So they visit it and drop Garucci’s name as bait to see if they get a bite. This leads to… 

Fight #1 --- The Massage Parlor

As Billy and Garoni lay face down to receive massages, Billy espies one girl retrieving a knife. What ensues is a little patented “run & gun” fighting by JC. It’s brief, but fun. The choreography is a little off in places, but it works. There are good impacts and 2 lovely kicks. The first is a jump-spinning back kick that sends a stuntman backwards over a railing onto an end table, a leg of which narrowly misses turning him into a soprano. The second is a jump-spinning roundhouse performed as Chan leaps off the molding along the corner of a wall. Captured and taken back to an office, Billy pulls a slick move to reverse the odds in their favor. Threats are exchanged, and he and Garoni leave. 

The following day, the 2 cops visit Billy’s contact, Lee Hing, his daughter Soo Ling (ML), and Stan Jones (KB), a young black man and former SEAL. Hing lives in a junktown, a harbor full of skiffs and boats. While there… 

Fight #2 --- Junktown

A short fight ensues when the massage parlor manager shows up with some goons. There’s a nice kick or two, but then Billy chases after the fleeing boat of Ko’s lieutenant. What occurs is Chan performing a number of stunts while in pursuit: a motorcycle jump, a pole vault, and a long jump off a springboard. At the moment of capture, Ko’s man gets away. 

Billy and Garoni leave until the following day to give Hing time to run down a lead on Laura. They return to the hotel to find a briefcase full of money and two airline tickets lying on the bed just as the phone rings. It’s Ko, and as Billy refuses his offer, gunmen open fire on the room. Two nice stunts follow with a stuntman falling 3 stories through a neon sign, and Chan nimbly climbing down the outside of the building to chase the others. In an epic “Dirty Harry” moment, Billy fires a single shot that causes the fleeing car to flip. Rather than face arrest, the assassins set themselves on fire, blowing up the vehicle. 

As the 2 US cops get yet another chewing out, this time by Commandant Whitehead, they learn that Ko is holding a press conference to announce the $3M purchase of a racing horse. They attend and humiliate Ko by throwing his briefcase of cash into the air. Garucci happens to be there, and while Garoni follows him, Billy goes to visit Lee Hing with Soo Ling and Stan, only to find the man’s boat has been firebombed.

(Now keep all this straight. There’s a test later.) Garoni follows Garucci to a container shipyard, which also happens to be where Ko’s drug lab is housed. Meeting up with Billy and the others, plans are made to infiltrate it that night. There, Chan scales 4 containers like it was nothing to toss down a rope for his partner and Stan. They access the lab through the ventilation. They then free Laura and blow up the lab, but Garucci shoots Garoni, taking him hostage as they escape. 

Billy makes a call to Ko, and a trade of Laura for Garoni is agreed on. However, Billy sends Stan to take the girl to Whitehead for safekeeping while he goes to save his partner at Ko’s shipping warehouse.  When Billy gets there, Whitehead, who is crooked, is there also…with Laura. (Wow, that was fast, huh?) 

Fight #3 --- Billy vs Garucci & thugs

It’s a good fight! Wish it was a tad longer. There are some nice impacts. It’s a good display of Wallace’s kicking skills, especially a side kick that he snaps into a roundhouse to the back of Chan’s head. JC gets his licks in, too, nailing Garucci at one point with a flying headbutt and a jumping double kick. This then segues into Billy scaling the inside of the warehouse to rescue Garoni while taking out Ko’s goons. There are some fantastic falls! Some are just mind-boggling! In one, Chan sweeps a guy’s foot, sending him into a front flip to land on his back from a 15 foot drop. In another, Chan hops across to another level and spins to deliver a front kick to another guy leaping the same gap, dropping him to the floor. (This is a stunt that is recreated during Iko Uwais’ end fight in Merantau.) Garucci then revives to chase Billy with a buzz saw to a shocking conclusion. 

As the HK cops arrive, Billy chases Ko outside. Ko hops in a chopper as Billy is left to take on his massive bodyguard (David Ho) on a platform that magically gets hoisted into the air. The fight isn’t all that great, but danger of the stunt certainly is. After knocking the bodyguard to the ground and leaping onto the gigantic crane, Billy dodges bullets fired by Ko from the circling chopper. He soon dispatches Ko via some mechanical crane assistance.

The movie ends with the bad guys caught, the heroin pipeline stopped, and everyone going home happy. (Well, except for Soo Ling, whose father is dead. Oh, and Garucci and Ko because they’re dead, too.) 

Whew. 

As a whole, the plot moves pretty quickly, which is a bonus. The dialogue is a bit stilted and campy, and to me Danny Aiello is the only one that makes his lines work. (I’ve always thought him to be a very underrated actor.) The action is solid with equal amounts of gunplay, good stunts, and a taste of Chan’s fighting skills and agility. 

This was the second attempt to break Jackie Chan into the US film market. The first was 1980’s The Big Brawl which didn’t pan out well for him. His next appearances in US cinema were in the star-filled ensembles Cannonball Run & Cannonball Run 2 headed by Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise. The first Cannonball Run movie would be my very brief introduction to Jackie Chan, who played one of the 2 Japanese racers. His standout moment in that film was during the brawl at the end as the racers clashed with a biker gang. He was certainly a treat to watch as he quickly bowed himself into the fight and began decking guys with his feet. At the fight ends and all the other racers dash off to speed to the finish line, Chan hangs back to boot a few more heads, giving him a moment to showcase his comedic Kung Fu skills. (It ends with him executing a jumping split kick and ripping the seam in the crotch of his pants.)

The Protector was part of a $50M 4 film project, and headed up by James Glickenhaus. Creative differences on the set ensued, quickly becoming contentious as Chan didn’t like certain aspects of the film’s direction, especially the fight scenes. It’s entirely understandable why. At this time, he was already a bankable star in HK cinema with the success of 1980’s The Young Master and 1983’s Project A. Chan knew action and how best to showcase himself. Chan didn’t feel Glickenhaus had an eye for the fight action, finding the director’s execution to be sloppy. He even offered to direct those portions himself, but the director refused. Frustrated and angry, Chan walked off set, but had to return and honor his contractual obligation.  It seems apparent to me that Glickenhaus must have gotten a clue, allowing Chan a little leeway in some of the fight staging, though he certainly should have given him free rein. Needless to say, the experience wasn’t a happy one for Chan, and on returning to Hong Kong, he managed to get a copy of the film to reedit. 

And reedit he did, as well as bringing in some of the cast for additional filming. The US version is full of gratuitous nudity, which is taken out of the HK version for the most part, as is much of the profanity. The US version has Chan swearing and even dropping the F Bomb, something that he just really doesn’t sell. Chan incorporated more comedic elements, too, and a subplot, along with a few additional fight scenes. One takes place in a gym. I remember it being played for comic effect. It’s fun, but not all that special. Another is of Garucci taking on Lee Hoi San, thus establishing his character as someone lethal to contend with when he and Billy finally face off. (Something like this would have made a lot of sense to have in the US version.) But it is the fight between Chan and Wallace that is best served by JC’s reedit. He brings a better HK flavor to the action, with faster exchanges and intricately reckless choreography. It is an absolute blast, and I’ve always wondered why Chan didn’t use Wallace again. How sweet would it be to have a couple of films where the two of them have a go at each other like Chan did with Benny “the Jet” Urquidez in Wheels On Meals and Dragons Forever

Chan released his version in July of ’85 and the US release followed in August. The Hong Kong version banked over $13M HK. The US version made less than $1M. Still, it put the taste in his mouth to make his own police action movie, and Police Story followed in December that same year, making over $26M HK.  

I consider this film my first full-fledged introduction to Jackie Chan. I rented it while stationed in Germany in ’86 and was blown away. In retrospect, it’s understandable why Chan was disappointed with it. The film gets dissed a good bit, and I can see why. Many of Chan’s characters are typically based around his own personality. This is not. He’s being made out to be something he’s not, and he resented it. Still, I find it to be a good showcase of his skills, and were it not for this experience, who knows when we would have gotten one of the crowning achievements of his film career? I obviously have a personal affinity for it, and always will.

And for fun, if you’ve never seen it, here’s the HK version of the Chan/Wallace screen fight. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKpJOoRrLjw

 

Edited by ShaOW!linDude

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3 hours ago, ShaOW!linDude said:

No, it’s a shootout that culminates in a boat chase after the lead gunman, ending with an explosive collision with Billy being hoisted away on a lifeline by a chopper.

I like how some people just fly when they get shot in this scene. I also find it weird that the robber was going to shoot Jackie in the bathroom just for, you know, being there.

3 hours ago, ShaOW!linDude said:

The Protector was part of a $50M 4 film project, and headed up by James Glickenhaus.

12.5 million dollars per film. That's still a pretty substantial amount in 1985, isn't it? Do we know what other movies were part of the project?

 

3 hours ago, ShaOW!linDude said:

The dialogue is a bit stilted and campy, and to me Danny Aiello is the only that makes his lines work. (I’ve always thought him to be a very underrated actor.)

Don't you love how Danny Aiello screams every time he fires a gun?

 

3 hours ago, ShaOW!linDude said:

The following day, the 2 cops visit Billy’s contact, Lee Hing, his daughter Soo Ling (ML), and Stan Jones (KB), a young black man and former SEAL. Hing lives in a junktown, a harbor full of skiffs and boats. While there… 

Both this and Kickboxer feature black men who stayed in Asia, presumably after Vietnam or stuff like that, and who got involved in arms dealing. Was this a real thing, or just a trope of the 80s?

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40 minutes ago, DrNgor said:

12.5 million dollars per film. That's still a pretty substantial amount in 1985, isn't it? Do we know what other movies were part of the project?

According to the IMDb page for the movie, it was part of a production deal with Golden Harvest that included High Road to China (1983), Blade Runner (1982), and Megaforce (1982). I can't locate an actual production cost for the film, but I'm like you in that $12.5M seems steep for this. I could see that for HRtC ($19M budget) or Megaforce ($20M budget). BR was actually associated with Shaw Bros. (estimated $28M budget) The numbers just don't add up. Plus, once you take into account marketing costs, I don't see how Chan's film had a very big budget.

45 minutes ago, DrNgor said:

Both this and Kickboxer feature black men who stayed in Asia, presumably after Vietnam or stuff like that, and who got involved in arms dealing. Was this a real thing, or just a trope of the 80s

It's very possible. It was certainly a trope in many novels of the 80's as well. I could believe it. A lot of vets probably felt they couldn't return to the US considering what they had been through. Plus, "Yellow Fever" (a preference for Asian girls) and all that.

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5 minutes ago, ShaOW!linDude said:

According to the IMDb page for the movie, it was part of a production deal with Golden Harvest that included High Road to China (1983), Blade Runner (1982), and Megaforce (1982). I can't locate an actual production cost for the film, but I'm like you in that $12.5M seems steep for this. I could see that for HRtC ($19M budget) or Megaforce ($20M budget). BR was actually associated with Shaw Bros. (estimated $28M budget) The numbers just don't add up. Plus, once you take into account marketing costs, I don't see how Chan's film had a very big budget.

...

I was thinking that the IMDB page was just wrong with that.  I hate when their trivia has no references.

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1 hour ago, ShaOW!linDude said:

According to the IMDb page for the movie, it was part of a production deal with Golden Harvest that included High Road to China (1983), Blade Runner (1982), and Megaforce (1982). I can't locate an actual production cost for the film, but I'm like you in that $12.5M seems steep for this. I could see that for HRtC ($19M budget) or Megaforce ($20M budget). BR was actually associated with Shaw Bros. (estimated $28M budget) The numbers just don't add up. Plus, once you take into account marketing costs, I don't see how Chan's film had a very big budget.

I wonder if the two Cannonball Run films could have been part of the deal as well.

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2 hours ago, masterofoneinchpunch said:

I was thinking that the IMDB page was just wrong with that.  I hate when their trivia has no references.

 

45 minutes ago, DrNgor said:

I wonder if the two Cannonball Run films could have been part of the deal as well.

According to IMDb, Golden Harvest is listed as one of the primary production companies for both Cannonball Run flicks, the first with an $18M budget and the second with a $20M budget. Could be onto something there, Doc, but the numbers still don't gibe regarding the $50M 4 picture deal. Who knows? But as mooip points out, without specific references, you kind of have to take IMDb's info at face value.

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16 hours ago, Writ said:

Pedicab Driver

Directed by Sammo Hung

Great review @Writ, agree with your thoughts on the movie completely, plus any flick that features Sammo taking on both Lau Kar Leung & Billy Chow has to be a classic.

7 hours ago, ShaOW!linDude said:

THE PROTECTOR    (US version 1985)   Run time: 95 mins.

Stars: Jackie Chan, Danny Aiello, Kim Bass, Roy Chiao, Saun Ellis, Moon Lee, Bill “Superfoot” Wallace

Writer & Director: James Glickenhaus

MA Coordinators: Mars, Paul Wong, Wan Fat, Billy Lai, Stanley Chow

Likewise @ShaOW!linDude!  I watched the HK version of this first, after I picked up what I believe was the Deltamac DVD back in the early 00's.  Finally got around to watching the U.S. version when I was living in Japan and picked up the Japanese release when it was in a sale, not actually knowing it was the U.S. cut of the movie.  It's interesting just how tonally different they are, I like the U.S. version because it's nice to see Jackie in a gritty almost Dirty Harry type role, but definitely his Hong Kong edit has the edge, not only for the additional action, but also more Moon Lee & Sally Yeh.  Or is that just me?

7 hours ago, ShaOW!linDude said:

It is an absolute blast, and I’ve always wondered why Chan didn’t use Wallace again. How sweet would it be to have a couple of films where the two of them have a go at each other like Chan did with Benny “the Jet” Urquidez in Wheels On Meals and Dragons Forever?

I'm going to annoy @masterofoneinchpunch here because I don't remember the source, but I do recall reading an article that detailed how Wallace didn't particularly enjoy working with Chan, partly because he didn't feel that the way Chan defeats him in the fight was very realistic (maybe he felt in reality he wouldn't needed to have resort to a buzzsaw).  That's most likely the reason behind them never working together again.

4 hours ago, DrNgor said:

Both this and Kickboxer feature black men who stayed in Asia, presumably after Vietnam or stuff like that, and who got involved in arms dealing. Was this a real thing, or just a trope of the 80s?

I can't say its specific to any particular race or means of employment, but certainly there were plenty of military men who stayed in South East Asia after the Vietnam War.  I live in the Philippines, and am friends with a few Americans who have been here since.  Ironically, all of them ended up taking acting jobs in the likes of 'Apocalypse Now' and the many Filipino post-apocalyptic action movies that got made in the 80's.  Just as well none of them developed post traumatic stress disorders from their experiences in the war.

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23 hours ago, ShaOW!linDude said:

THE PROTECTOR    (US version 1985)   Run time: 95 mins.

Stars: Jackie Chan, Danny Aiello, Kim Bass, Roy Chiao, Saun Ellis, Moon Lee, Bill “Superfoot” Wallace

Writer & Director: James Glickenhaus

MA Coordinators: Mars, Paul Wong, Wan Fat, Billy Lai, Stanley Chow

Superb review @ShaOW!linDude

 

23 hours ago, ShaOW!linDude said:

(One gunman is played by an uncredited John William Minton aka Big John Studd, at the time a member of the World Wrestling Federation during the 80’s. He was best known for having a longstanding “feud” with Andre the Giant. Minton died in 1994 from liver cancer. The recurring tumors in his body were believed to have been brought on by his excessive use of human growth hormones, a popular trend during that era, which reshaped his skeleton and musculature.)

Thats interesting, wouldnt surprise me if Studd had used steroids at all, but I thought HGH didnt show up until the 90's. According to a few wrestling interviews The Ultimate Warrior and The British Bulldog were the first to start using HGH. He was a Vietnam vet like Jesse Ventura and the pair used to travel a together between shows.

 

20 hours ago, DrNgor said:

Both this and Kickboxer feature black men who stayed in Asia, presumably after Vietnam or stuff like that, and who got involved in arms dealing. Was this a real thing, or just a trope of the 80s?

Remember bringing up this old trope in my old No Retreat No Surrender 2 review. In the 80's it seemed like almost every other Martial Arts movie had one of these characters. In the Loren Avedon movie it was Max Thayer playing that role.

Edited by DragonClaws

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12 hours ago, One Armed Boxer said:

...

I'm going to annoy @masterofoneinchpunch here because I don't remember the source, but I do recall reading an article that detailed how Wallace didn't particularly enjoy working with Chan, partly because he didn't feel that the way Chan defeats him in the fight was very realistic (maybe he felt in reality he wouldn't needed to have resort to a buzzsaw).  That's most likely the reason behind them never working together again.

...

He complained about him a few times in Black Belt magazine (I'm sure he complained elsewhere to other magazines too).  Love reading "Superfoot".  He has some classic complaints about MMA in the 90s.  I still have most of my Black Belts so I'll try to organize them and find any "Superfoot" Jackie Chan talk.  But I have a few other sources/interviews I'll check.

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On 6/6/2017 at 6:48 AM, DragonClaws said:

Great write up @Writ and thanks for contributing to this months theme, enjoyed reading your thoughts on Pedicab Driver.

Do you have any over 80's related reviews planned for this month?.

Thanks! I think the next one I'll review will be Cat vs Rat. I've been hearing some bad things about that one so I've put it off for some time. I'll give my thoughts on that a little later this month though, but I'll be keeping up with the thread!

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On 06/06/2017 at 4:49 AM, One Armed Boxer said:

I live in the Philippines, and am friends with a few Americans who have been here since.  Ironically, all of them ended up taking acting jobs in the likes of 'Apocalypse Now' and the many Filipino post-apocalyptic action movies that got made in the 80's.  Just as well none of them developed post traumatic stress disorders from their experiences in the war.

You don't happen to wear really loud/colorful shirts, smoke cigars and hang around in strip joints One Armed Boxer?.

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1 hour ago, DragonClaws said:

You don't happen to wear really loud/colorful shirts, smoke cigars and hang around in strip joints One Armed Boxer?.

Can I say I do one of those things, & just leave it at that?

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1 hour ago, One Armed Boxer said:

Can I say I do one of those things, & just leave it at that?

LOL no problem.

I forgot to list arms dealer, alongside the cigar smoking etc.

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Five Pattern Dragon Claws    (1983)

a.k.a Five Pattern Dragon Claw, Fist Of Lightening, Thunder Fist

Fight Choreographer- Baek Hwang-Ki

Director- Kim Si-Hyeon

Starring- Hwang Jang Lee, Dragon Lee, Baek Hwang-Ki, Kim Ki-Bum, Choi Hui-Jeong, Kim Ki-Hong, Mun Jong-Geum, Jang Hyo-Seon.

Plot Synopsis- Kam Fu(Hwang Jang Lee) and his gang of fighters, want to rule the Martial World. Their first target, is the local Buddhist temple, its followers and their secret Kung Fu manuals. Only a small group of resilient students led by Wong(Dragon Lee) stand in their way. Can Kam and his ThunderFoot technique win?, or will Wong and his lethal Lightening Mantis Strike stop him for good?.

 

"I will teach you a Kung Fu punch, using your fist"

 

High kicking Korean action from the Filmark movie company, filmed entirely in South Korea and directed by Kim Si-Hyeon(The Dragons Infernal Showdown). Dragon Lee is his usual pumped up, highly strung self, showing no fear off his enemies. Kim Si-Hyeon must have directed more Dragon Lee movies than anyone else?. Starting with Dragon Lee VS Five Brothers(1978) and finishing with very movie I'm reviewing. Kim would retire after making one more movie, Killing In The Nude(1985), which sounds like a slasher movie set in a nudist park. Godfrey Ho who picked up the movie for its international release, does his usual cheeky trick of putting his name down as director.

Hwang Jang Lee is on top form here, with yet another jaw dropping kicking performance. His movie career may have past, its peak years by 1983, but his physical skills were still sharper than Lone Wolfs sword. This movie may not be the highlight of his extensive filmography, but it features enough fast paced action to satisfy fans of the Silver Fox. We first see him performing some speedy kicks, on what looks like three boxing training aids. This being a Korean Filmark movie, every time Hwang hits the training aids, we get an odd sound effect on the soundtrack. I'm not 100% sure, but it sounds like they’ve sampled some of the lasers blast sounds from the 1980's BattleStar Galatica series?.

Filmark regular Baek Hwang-Ki(The Dragons Snake Fist), is the man behind the high energy Kung Fu action. The credits have the Filmark Kung Fu Association down for action duties. Not sure if this even existed? or who was even a member of it, if there was such a group. We first catch a glimpse of Baek, acting like a shady lurker and peering from around a tree at the local temples Martial Arts tournament. He spends most of the movie wondering the countryside starting fights, with his lackeys at his side. Hwang Ki gets to display some nice kicks here too, similar to his role in Leopard Fist Ninja which I reviewed last year. He plays Ling, the on-screen brother/accomplice of Kam Fu.

You'll have to forgive me on not being able to identify some of the performers. Many of the cast only have a couple of movies to their credit, on their HKMDB pages. Despite watching a lot of old school Korean movies, I could only name a handful of the actors involved here. This movie was my first experience of old school Korean style screen combat. While I knew little about the genre at the time, I could see the choreography was different, despite the heavy shapes influence. While Hong Kong movies had starting to move away from the shapes styles by 1983. A style of screen action that was popular in the late 1970's Hong Kong cinema. Korean audiences were still clearly hot for more that of style. The fights don’t look as fast to me now, as they once did all those years ago. Having watched a lot more of the undercranked and speeded up action, featured in some 90's Hong Kong movies. That said, Hwang-Ki does a fine job here, anyone who's watched Martial Monks Of Shaolin Temple(1983) will have good idea of what to expect here. Sadly, he only choreographed three movies, the last being Fire Lord where he shared these duties with Casanova Wong.

"Who the hell do you guys think you are?, smart asses huh" - Dragon Lee

The film opens with the final two fights, in a tournament being held by the local Buddhist temple. We get some nice staff work in the fight shown over the credits. The second encounter features Wong(Dragon Lee) leaping into the fight. He makes easy work of his opponent, with his usual mix of acrobatics, kicks, flips and animal styles. This movie features one of the Korean dragons most restrained performances. That said, he's still pretty much the character he plays in all his movies. Compared to the last feature I watched starring him The Dragons Infernal Showdown, he's a lot more subdued here. Until we get to the last encounter of the film, but more on that later.

The movie as a-whole, is a lot more sombre and serious. That doesn’t mean we don’t get a good dose of unintentional, and intentional comedy along the way. When Wong is almost beaten to death, Kam Fu followers are ordered to leave the body outside the palace gates. Not that's a discreet place to leave a body. They go one step further and take his lifeless body out into the countryside. They then lay him down, cover him with a tree branch, while one guy picks up a handful of the Autumn leaves and sprinkles them over him. In another sequence, Kam Fu and his lackeys go to the nearby temple in search of their enemies. Kam's brother Ling looks around the place then says to his brother "Their, not here, but we found this idol". Ling then proceeds to walk off looking really smitten, as if he's just found a winning lottery ticket.

Kam Fu eventually gets what he wants, obtaining not one, not two, not three, but four secret Kung Fu manuals. There's so much secret kung fu in this movie, it all can’t be contained in just a single book. The Abbot(Kim Ki-Bum) at the temple claims he's teaching the students Wu Fat Kung Fu, from Northern China. Which I'm certain is just a fabricated style for the movie. When our hero is nursed back to health by one of the temple abbots, who is in disguise. He learns the fictional Lightening Mantis Strike. Getting back to the abbot in disguise, it’s that old Martial Arts movie trope, of a character wearing a simple disguise that actually-fools the characters on screen.

One of the movies action highlights, see's Kam Fu batter three students on a bridge. Knocking their bodies around like they were just footballs. If that wasn’t enough to prove Hwang Jang Lee's playing yet another bad ass role. In another sequence he uses less energy, and simply grabs two fighters in the ribs with his Eagles Claw technique. The two men simply turn pale and empty their bladders onto the floor. It's a good job Wong has Master Kwok to teach him some secret fighting styles. Wong gets his hands and legs strapped to a log with the use of ropes, it's some weird primitive version of weight lifting equipment. Only you won’t see anyone in your local gym performing the moves Dragon Lee does. When the Martial gangsters kill a monk played by Jang Hyo-Seon, it’s enough to make our heroes take action.

"Like the wings of an eagle, we shall fly there and show them who's boss" - Hwang Jang Lee

Master Kwok shows up alone at Kam's castle, and challenges the villains to fight. Kam's dressed in his usual stylish satin Kung Fu trousers and shirt, complete with The Beatles 1960's style mop top haircut. He's the best dressed fighter in the whole movie, and clearly didn’t pay his lackeys much, judging by their clothes. When it looks like Kwok and his panther style, might be overcome by sheer numbers, Wong appears from knowhere. The fight choreography goes up a few notches for the last showdown, and becomes a little more intense. Dragon Lee has clearly been living on a diet of highly caffeinated drinks, while studying with his teacher. Kam breaks out his secret Thunder Foot technique, that leaves flames on the clothes of anyone he connects with. Kwok and Wong make for a great tag team, as they give it their all to stop his feet and fists of fury. We even get shots of fork lighting, to emphasize when certain punches or techniques are used. One of the best sections for me, see's Wong perform flip kicks on Kam. He repeatedly somersaults on the spot, while hitting the super villain under the chin. I lost count after the seventh somersault hit.

Five Pattern Dragon Claws, is more than worth watching/buying if you are fan of the movies stars. Otherwise your better off leaving this title alone. It's not the greatest Korean movie ever made, but it's still a fun hour and thirty minutes. It does suffer from the trappings of a small budget. The sets and costumes are very basic, the cast is pretty limited too. Co-star Kim Ki-Kong(The Dragon, The Young Master) handles Hwang Baek-Kis choreography really well, sadly he's not in the film enough. Korean actress Choe Hui-Jeong is sadly given very little to do also, and she's the only female cast member. The musical score is the usual mixed tracks from Hollywood movie soundtrack, Star Wars and Taxi Driver to name two. During the last fight there appears to be two songs being played simultaneously?. The print is also in really-poor shape, which won’t surprise long terms fans of the genre. The Vengeance Video release, which I watched for this review. Is a murky full screen print, that suffers from a lot scratches etc. If you look at the lobby cards released for the movie, you can the film once looked a lot more colourful.

Edited by DragonClaws

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Oh, boy. I have a lot of catching up to do.

On 6/3/2017 at 7:11 PM, DrNgor said:

Angel 3 (1989)

In closing, the film is perfectly entertaining if taken solely on its action merits. But as a Girls n’ Guns film, its refusal to have a female heroine take part in the bullet-riddled final set piece knocks it down several rungs, even if the female-oriented action before it would’ve placed it near the very top.

Excellent write-up! I love how you started off comparing how Hollywood struggles with female protagonists while Hong Kong and Taiwan have had great leading ladies for the past 50 years or so. Very interesting points. I’ve never thought about that.

I sadly haven’t gotten around to seeing Angel 3 yet. I kinda stopped after the first one. Not a huge fan of the first film since it’s kinda dumb, but it was still a fun ride. I’ll have to give parts 2 and 3 a watch someday just to say I saw them. Angel 2 actually looks pretty great with its setting and its action. I’ve only seen the fight between Moon Lee and Yuen Tak and it looks incredible.

On 6/5/2017 at 4:10 AM, Writ said:

Pedicab Driver

To summarise, Pedicab Driver isn't just a great martial arts film, it's also a great film full stop. It's a film about friendship, love, life and our ultimate reality. It's a tragedy, but it's also optimistic. It's a great change of pace from the usual martial arts film only concerned with spectacle. In a recent interview with Hung, he mentioned that he probably had the chance to work with maybe only four or five great scripts as a director. I'm gonna go ahead and assume that this is one of them because it is damn great.

Great review! I definitely can see why you enjoyed this movie though I’m honestly kinda iffy about it. Not completely sure why. It just kinda left a bad taste in my mouth. The silly light hearted scenes work, the melodrama works, and the brutal action scenes work, but I don’t feel they work in the same movie. They just don’t quite blend for me. Each scene felt like a different movie with a totally different tone and it was just jarring and off-putting for me. I might have to rewatch it.

On 6/5/2017 at 0:58 PM, ShaOW!linDude said:

THE PROTECTOR    (US version 1985)   Run time: 95 mins.  

I consider this film my first full-fledged introduction to Jackie Chan. I rented it while stationed in Germany in ’86 and was blown away. In retrospect, it’s understandable why Chan was disappointed with it. The film gets dissed a good bit, and I can see why. Many of Chan’s characters are typically based around his own personality. This is not. He’s being made out to be something he’s not, and he resented it. Still, I find it to be a good showcase of his skills, and were it not for this experience, who knows when we would have gotten one of the crowning achievements of his film career? I obviously have a personal affinity for it, and always will. 

Very good review and fight analysis! I’ve only ever seen the Hong Kong version and found it pretty boring actually, especially compared to other Jackie Chan movies from the time (i.e. Police Story). Great fights though! I’d definitely be interested in seeing the US version just for comparison's sake. I imagine I’d actually enjoy the US version as a generic, crappy cop movie that I’ve slowly grown to enjoy. Parts of me still feels I’m not gonna like it a whole lot.

On 6/5/2017 at 4:08 PM, DrNgor said:

I like how some people just fly when they get shot in this scene. I also find it weird that the robber was going to shoot Jackie in the bathroom just for, you know, being there.

I find it a bit more weird that Jackie was just holding a gun in front of him while he was pissing. Sure, he probably heard the bad guys in the other room and thought "maybe I should pull my gun out" off camera. But still, out of context, it's one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

9 hours ago, Writ said:

Thanks! I think the next one I'll review will be Cat vs Rat. I've been hearing some bad things about that one so I've put it off for some time. I'll give my thoughts on that a little later this month though, but I'll be keeping up with the thread!

Looking forward to it. I've always been meaning to see Cat vs Rat. I just haven't gotten around to it.

2 hours ago, DragonClaws said:

Five Pattern Dragon Claws    (1983)

Five Pattern Dragon Claws, is more than worth watching/buying if you are fan of the movies stars. Otherwise your better off leaving this title alone. It's not the greatest Korean movie ever made, but it's still a fun hour and thirty minutes. It does suffer from the trappings of a small budget. The sets and costumes are very basic, the cast is pretty limited too. Co-star Kim Ki-Kong(The Dragon, The Young Master) handles Hwang Baek-Kis choreography really well, sadly he's not in the film enough. Korean actress Choe Hui-Jeong is sadly given very little to do also, and she's the only female cast member. The musical score is the usual mixed tracks from Hollywood movie soundtrack, Star Wars and Taxi Driver to name two. During the last fight there appears to be two songs being played simultaneously?. The print is also in really-poor shape, which won’t surprise long terms fans of the genre. The Vengeance Video release, which I watched for this review. Is a murky full screen print, that suffers from a lot scratches etc. If you look at the lobby cards released for the movie, you can the film once looked a lot more colourful.

Great review! I really should be getting on those old school Korean kung fu movies (I think the only one I've seen was Dragon's Infernal Showdown). There are so many that I've heard a lot of great things about (especially thanks to @One Armed Boxer). And here's another one for me to check out.

Well, summer vacation is almost here and it seems I'm more busy than ever. I'll try to post my Police Story 2 review soon. I'm almost done writing it, but it's hard to find time right now to go online and read/write these reviews. I still hope to stay fairly active this month. Stay tuned!

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3 hours ago, DragonClaws said:

"I will teach you a Kung Fu punch, using your fist"

 

One of my favorite kung fu lines ever.

3 hours ago, DragonClaws said:

Hwang Jang Lee is on top form here, with yet another jaw dropping kicking performance. His movie career may have past, its peak years by 1983, but his physical skills were still sharper than Lone Wolfs sword.

I got a kick out of hearing Hwang drop an F-bomb in this.

 

3 hours ago, DragonClaws said:

ynopsis- Kam Fu(Hwang Jang Lee) and his gang of fighters, want to rule the Martial World. Their first target, is the local Buddhist temple, its followers and their secret Kung Fu manuals. Only a small group of resilient students led by Wong(Dragon Lee) stand in their way. Can Kam and his ThunderFoot technique win?, or will Wong and his lethal Lightening Mantis Strike stop him for good?.

The strangest thing to me in the plot was the whole idea of one of the good guys betraying the hero, feeling remorse, finding Buddha, and then committing suicide in penitence. Maybe I'm a decadent Philistine, but wouldn't finding Buddha be enough for you to not need to kill yourself in order to repent?

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18 hours ago, DragonClaws said:

Five Pattern Dragon Claws    (1983)

a.k.a Five Pattern Dragon Claw, Fist Of Lightening, Thunder Fist

Fantastic review @DragonClaws, several lines made me laugh out loud! Believe it or not I've yet to see this one, but have it lurking in one of the 50 multi-packs somewhere, will need to remedy that soon!

18 hours ago, DragonClaws said:

Kim would retire after making one more movie, Killing In The Nude(1985), which sounds like a slasher movie set in a nudist park.

A small correction on this, he'd actually go on to make another 5 movies after this one, before retiring in 1988.  I've learnt to never trust hkmdb when it comes to Korean movies, best to stick with the Korean Movie Database.  This movies original name is 'Nwoi Fighting Technique' (the linked page also contains a more comprehensive cast list), and you can find Si-hyun's full filmography here.  Not sure if it should be a source of pride, but he was also responsible for directing the Korean movie which was chopped up to create the legendary 'Ninja Terminator', in the form of 'The Uninvited Guest of Star Ferry', which he directed in the year following 'Five Pattern Dragon Claws'.

18 hours ago, DragonClaws said:

That said, Hwang-Ki does a fine job here, anyone who's watched Martial Monks Of Shaolin Temple(1983) will have good idea of what to expect here. Sadly, he only choreographed three movies, the last being Fire Lord where he shared these duties with Casanova Wong.

I have no idea what the deal is with 'Fire Lord'....it seems to be another aka for 'City Ninja', which I reviewed for last months theme, but if that's the case, then it's bizarre for it to have 2 entries on hkmdb.

So, you have the original movie on the kmdb under its title 'Hwa-ya', made in '83 - http://www.kmdb.or.kr/eng/vod/vod_basic.asp?nation=K&p_dataid=03682

Then it's on hkmdb under its HK title of 'Rocky's Love Affairs' (with 'City Ninja', 'Ninja Holocaust', '108 Golden Killers' and 'Hwa-Ya' listed as aka's), listed as made in '85 - http://hkmdb.com/db/movies/view.mhtml?id=6658&display_set=eng

& then another entry for 'Fire Lord', which simply lists 'Hwa-ya' as an aka, and has the original year of '83 as the year it was made - http://hkmdb.com/db/movies/view.mhtml?id=14844&display_set=eng

Confused?  A little.:tongueout

18 hours ago, DragonClaws said:

The Vengeance Video release, which I watched for this review. Is a murky full screen print, that suffers from a lot scratches etc.

Do I remember correctly that the Vengeance Video release also contains the Korean language track?

15 hours ago, KenHashibe said:

I find it a bit more weird that Jackie was just holding a gun in front of him while he was pissing.

I also believe that the gun was 'cocked'.:tongueout

15 hours ago, KenHashibe said:

Great review! I really should be getting on those old school Korean kung fu movies (I think the only one I've seen was Dragon's Infernal Showdown). There are so many that I've heard a lot of great things about (especially thanks to @One Armed Boxer). And here's another one for me to check out.

They're an acquired taste for sure, but once you get into them it's hard to stop.  I'll have 2 more Korean reviews up before the end of the month!

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36 minutes ago, One Armed Boxer said:

I also believe that the gun was 'cocked'.

Oh my... :laugh

37 minutes ago, One Armed Boxer said:

They're an acquired taste for sure, but once you get into them it's hard to stop.  I'll have 2 more Korean reviews up before the end of the month!

I moreorless expected that. Can't wait!

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On 6/7/2017 at 2:57 PM, DragonClaws said:

Five Pattern Dragon Claws    (1983)

a.k.a Five Pattern Dragon Claw, Fist Of Lightening, Thunder Fist

Fight Choreographer- Baek Hwang-Ki

Director- Kim Si-Hyeon

Starring- Hwang Jang Lee, Dragon Lee, Baek Hwang-Ki, Kim Ki-Bum, Choi Hui-Jeong, Kim Ki-Hong, Mun Jong-Geum, Jang Hyo-Seon.

Plot Synopsis- Kam Fu(Hwang Jang Lee) and his gang of fighters, want to rule the Martial World. Their first target, is the local Buddhist temple, its followers and their secret Kung Fu manuals. Only a small group of resilient students led by Wong(Dragon Lee) stand in their way. Can Kam and his ThunderFoot technique win?, or will Wong and his lethal Lightening Mantis Strike stop him for good?.

Love me some Dragon Lee, and I've not seen this one. Sounds like a good one!

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On 08/06/2017 at 0:50 AM, DrNgor said:

I got a kick out of hearing Hwang drop an F-bomb in this.

"those f*cking students"

 

On 08/06/2017 at 0:50 AM, DrNgor said:

The strangest thing to me in the plot was the whole idea of one of the good guys betraying the hero, feeling remorse, finding Buddha, and then committing suicide in penitence. Maybe I'm a decadent Philistine, but wouldn't finding Buddha be enough for you to not need to kill yourself in order to repent?

He'd already punished himself by kneeling on rocks, with his arms tied in the crucifix posisition.

 

On 08/06/2017 at 5:43 AM, One Armed Boxer said:

A small correction on this, he'd actually go on to make another 5 movies after this one, before retiring in 1988.  I've learnt to never trust hkmdb when it comes to Korean movies, best to stick with the Korean Movie Database.  This movies original name is 'Nwoi Fighting Technique' (the linked page also contains a more comprehensive cast list), and you can find Si-hyun's full filmography here.  Not sure if it should be a source of pride, but he was also responsible for directing the Korean movie which was chopped up to create the legendary 'Ninja Terminator', in the form of 'The Uninvited Guest of Star Ferry', which he directed in the year following 'Five Pattern Dragon Claws'.

Thanks for th head's up on the director eror. Univited Guest Of The Star Ferry needs a stand alone release.

 

On 08/06/2017 at 5:43 AM, One Armed Boxer said:

Do I remember correctly that the Vengeance Video release also contains the Korean language track?

It's just the old English dub.

Thanks for the positive feedback @ShaOW!linDude, @One Armed Boxer, @DrNgor, @KenHashibe.

 

 

 

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Police Story 2 (1988)

I’m not going to be going as in depth with this one as I did with my Police Story review last month. I’m nowhere near as passionate about this one, but I still feel I have a good amount to say. I’m partially going to retread my Hapa Hero review from last year. Also, just a heads up, I will be reviewing the 100-minute theatrical cut and make comparisons to the uncut version later on. Enjoy!

There’s this popular phrase in the film industry: “If it worked once, do it again.” So it’s no surprise that Jackie Chan’s biggest box office success at the time, Police Story, would get its own sequel. It may seem like a surprise that it took three years before the next film in the series, but the first film gave birth to what I consider the Police Story-era” of his career, full of modern-day action movies with outrageous budgets and even crazier stunts. It likely took a while to make Police Story 2 because Jackie was already busy producing Naughty Boys, filming Project A 2, almost dying in Armour of God, and starring in Dragons Forever. This was perhaps the busiest point in his career (though it’s arguable that he’s been even busier in recent years).

Unlike most other “sequels” in Hong Kong cinema, Police Story 2 is an actual continuation of the first film. Jackie Chan returns as Ka-Kui who’s been demoted to a traffic officer after his previous destructive episode. But it’s soon discovered that Chu Tao (Chor Yuen) is expected to die soon, so he’s released from prison to receive treatment. While he’s out of prison, he plans for his men to get revenge. Ka-Kui’s girlfriend, May (Maggie Cheung), no longer feels safe and feels that Ka-Kui’s more interested in his job than her. He decides to leave the force to please her, but is almost immediately brought back in when he’s asked to take care of a case involving terrorists.

Police Story 2 definitely succeeds as an action movie. Comparatively speaking, the fight scenes are much more flashy and light whereas the fights in the original are much more grounded and realistic. Jackie constantly makes use of his surroundings in the fight scenes. Right from the restaurant fight at the beginning, the fights are noticeably more prop-based (and less glass-based), which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The fights still leave an impact with great stunts and fast, inventive choreography. The infamous playground fight, possibly my favorite fight in the film, is definitely the scene where Jackie makes use of his surroundings the most; using the jungle gym to dodge hits, throwing people off the monkey bars, rolling down slides. It’s probably the most exciting scene in the film, and a lot of thanks for that has to go to the stirring score. I get hyped just listening to the song used in that scene start up. I actually really enjoy the score to this movie, giving it a slightly different vibe from the original. The new theme song, “I Need,” might not be as iconic as the original’s, but it’s still a good song to close the film (sung again by Jackie Chan himself).

The finale, though not as exciting as the original (then again, that’s kinda an unfair comparison), is still a great finale. There are some really impressive stunt falls and great fight choreography. It’s a great way to end the film, though the final blows aren’t as climatic as I would want them to be. It’s hard to explain, but the action kinda takes a breather, the action starts up again briefly, and then the film ends. On top of the action, there are still some really intense moments in the film. The scene where Jackie is defusing a bomb in a tunnel is ridiculously exciting for me. There’s so much tension, suspense, and desperation. Every time he gets the bomb off and he starts running, I get hyped. It’s one of my favorite “Oh, hell yeah!” movie moments.

Something that you might notice about this movie compared to the original is that it’s much more serious. The tone is consistently dark all the way through. There’s no comedic setup where Mars pretends to be a bad guy and his mask falls off. There’s no scene where Jackie talks to four people on the phone at the same time. Because of this, the movie feels much darker. That’s not necessarily a bad thing either, but I do prefer the somewhat more upbeat tone of the original.

I give the original Police Story a lot more credit than most when it comes to the characters. The characters in Police Story aren’t exceptional necessarily, but they’re all very sympathetic. Police Story 2  still has Jackie Chan being likable and Maggie Cheung has much more to do in this movie so she’s less of a flower pot. But still, the bad guys in this movie kinda suck. I feel the main problem I have with this movie is that it’s a crime investigation movie with main villains that have no emotional connection with our heroes. The villains in Police Story 2 never really interact with our main characters until about an hour and 20 minutes into the film (and at that point, there’s only 20 minutes left). Compared to the original, Ka Kui has a number of interactions with Chu Tao (Chor Yuen) and more importantly Salina Fong (Brigitte Lin). There’s an emotional connection between Ka Kui and the antagonists and we learn more about who they are throughout the film through these interactions. With Police Story 2, we don’t get that. We just know that the bad guys are bad and Ka Kui needs to fight ‘em.

And because we know little to nothing about the villains in this movie, the movie kinda drags a bit. There’s this interesting internal conflict with Ka Kui, deciding if he’s more passionate about his job or his girlfriend. But the main conflict, investigating the terrorists, is hardly that interesting or very intense, until the very end. The only parts of the film that held my interest ironically were the scenes where Ka Kui is antagonized by Chu Tao's gang from the original. These scenes are much more interesting which is unfortunate since they’re only the subplot. Without them, we’re left with these three terrorist dudes who don’t have any personal conflict with our hero.

This is one of the main reasons why I prefer the original theatrical cut to the uncut version; the uncut version has more scenes with the investigation rather than the original bad guys. With these extra 20 minutes in the uncut version, not much is added. It almost gets to a point where it’s borderline boring. On top of that, the music is often altered. The original theatrical version of Police Story 2 has a new score composed by Michael Lai and it’s great. It fits the darker tone better and makes the exciting scenes even more exciting. However, in the uncut version, most scenes either have silence or the original score in place of the new score. This is especially troubling during the electrifying playground fight which loses its energy without the score.

Overall, Police Story 2 is still a great followup to the original film. It might seem like I’ve been hating on this movie throughout my review but it’s actually quite enjoyable still with incredible action highlights and some genuinely suspenseful moments. Though there’s a lot to be desired from its villains (thus dragging the story a bit), our heroes are as likable as ever. Comparing this movie to the original is almost unfair considering it had some HUGE shoes to fill. There are a number of somewhat uneventful scenes, but if you’re patient, you’ll be rewarded with some of Jackie’s most inventive and thrilling fight scenes. And seek out the 100-minute cut if you can.

 

Notes:

  • A lot of the newer releases of Police Story 2 (Dragon Dynasty, Shout! Factory) contain the uncut version while most of the relatively older releases (Megastar, Deltamac, HK Legends) contain the theatrical cut.

 

Remember how I said I was probably gonna reconsider what I review this month? I was right. Put me down for Tower of Death (a.k.a. Game of Death 2; 1981).

Edited by KenHashibe

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12 hours ago, KenHashibe said:

The finale, though not as exciting as the original (then again, that’s kinda an unfair comparison), is still a great finale. There are some really impressive stunt falls and great fight choreography. It’s a great way to end the film, though the final blows aren’t as climatic as I would want them to be. It’s hard to explain, but the action kinda takes a breather, the action starts up again briefly, and then the film ends.

True story. I love this movie, but I think you're right. The flow of the action seems to get interrupted and breaks the rhythm. That happens in the finale of the first one, too, and yet the rhythm of it seems maintained somehow. 

 

12 hours ago, KenHashibe said:

The infamous playground fight, possibly my favorite fight in the film, is definitely the scene where Jackie makes use of his surroundings the most; using the jungle gym to dodge hits, throwing people off the monkey bars, rolling down slides. It’s probably the most exciting scene in the film...

Yep. You can't beat this fight scenes with a stick. (Pun! Man, I'm a funny guy.)

Nice write up and spot on review!

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