Review: Armour of God (1987)
Starring Jackie Chan, Lola Forner, Rosamund Kwan, Alan Tam
Fight Choreography by Jackie Chan
Directed by Jackie Chan
By 1987 Jackie Chan was in the middle of a set of films that have since become classics of HK cinema, and finally decided that he wanted to make a film in which he could go on Indiana Jones-style adventures. Little did he know at the time that Armour of God would nearly become the vehicle in which he may actually meet God face-to-face, such as it were…
The film begins as Asian Hawk (Chan, with his coolest onscreen name) steals a sword from a group of…natives, for lack of a better word, that is part of the Armour of God, armor and weapons that were used during the crusades. The opening is a bit slow, but has a few good stunts, and a pretty nifty getaway plane. Soon Asian Hawk is back in Italy, where he bumps up the price of the sword in auction, and it is purchased by a woman named May (Forner). Meanwhile a cult that worships the Armour wants to steal the 3 pieces they don’t have, so their leader, who looks something like Dracula from a local theater group, has his men kidnap Lorelei (Kwan) who was Hawk’s old flame when he, Lorelei, and his best friend Alan (Tam) were all in a Partridge Family style band. Alan teams up with Asian Hawk, and together with May, who comes along to watch over the pieces of armor her father lends to them, go in search of the monks to save Lorelei and get the complete set of armor, but they have no ide what they are getting into. Killer monks, a hidden base, and a final battle involving some scary amazon women…
Armour of God really wants to be Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in the worst possible way, and doesn’t come close, but it is a fun film despite so many cheesy moments. The cult is one of them. These are the cheapest looking monks in the history of monks, with 80’style hairdos matched with the bad acting that was so prevalent with Jackie’s international actors of the time period (and it is truly horrid in this flick). Of course, the script was put together, as many of JC’s films were at that time, around the stunts that Jackie wanted to do. Jackie does a good job being, well, Jackie, but is mostly the straight man to Alan Tam’s imbecile Alan, whose idiot and uncoordinated shenanigans wears thin after a while, but he does play the character well. It is odd to see Jackie giving most of the comedy to someone else, but there it is. Lola Forner does a pretty decent job, but Rosamund Kwan doesn’t appear nearly as much as I would’ve liked, and what time she does have isn’t doing much onscreen.
There are a lot of stunts, but there really isn’t any fighting until the end, when Asian Hawk faces off with the monks in a fight scene that is classic Chan as he flows like water with his movements as he downs all of the monks, and some nasty-looking falls and drops ensue, until the main event, Asian Hawk versus the amazon women, who put the hurt on him, and in high heels no less! The fighting is fast and furious here, and even if some of the women were actually some of JC’s stuntmen (he better had paid them extra) it still turns out a fantastic fight, which admittedly uses some light wire work for the amazons, but is kept to a minimum.
At the end we are treated to the bloopers, but this one features the worst blooper of all, as Jackie, during the opening sequence of the film, jumps from a 3 story castle wall to a tree branch, to another castle tower, but the branch breaks under his weight, and he plummets to the ground and bounces his head off of a rock. He is rushed to the hospital where he spends close to 3 days in a coma, and to this day has a hole in his head where there is no bone. This film was the first film he had ever cut his hair short in, and after this was so superstitious he vowed never to cut his hair that short again for a film. Of all the stunts he’s ever done, this is the one that almost cost him his life.
(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best):
CHOREOGRAPHY: (8) Good, but the lack of fighting really brings this grade down, but the fight with the monks and Amazons goes down as classic Chan moments.
STUNTWORK: (9) Jackie does what he does best, from the stunt that almost kills him to the crazy ass jump from the cliff all the way down to the hot air balloon.
STAR POWER: (8) JC was a superstar the world over, and Rosamund Kwan would forge her own name with Hong Kong films, and Lola Forner would have a good film and television career.
FINAL GRADE: (8) Armour of God is a good-but-not-great film that contains a few classic Jackie Chan moments that elevate it from being just another Indiana Jones ripoff, but the cheesiness almost derails the film.