Starring Jackie Chan, Ken Lo, Shoko Ikeda, Carol Cheng, Eva Cobo de Garcia
Fight Choreography by Jackie Chan
Directed by Jackie Chan
Jackie Chan’s first foray into the well mined by Indiana Jones was a great success, so of course he would go back to try again, but this time he would up the stunts, the comedy, everything got turned up to 11, but as with most of his ’90’s fare, there was just a little something missing…
The film opens with a great pre-credits action scene where Asian Hawk (Chan) tries to take a group of green crystals from a group of natives, but as it always seems to happen, things go well until Hawk find out too late what the natives truly valued, and has to run for his life, and escapes in what must be the greatest plastic ball ride of all time. Afterward we find that Hawk is now working for the very man he tried to steal a piece of the Armor of God from in the first film. Hawk must’ve had some later success working for the dude since he totally lost the Armor, since both men are friends now. Hawk, along with Ada (Cheng) are tasked with tracking down a cache of Nazi gold hidden in an abandoned military base somewhere in the African desert. Hawk follows the lead to a relative of one of the German officers, Elsa (Garcia), but she herself is being stalked by a group of mysterious middle eastern men who want the gold for themselves. Soon Hawk teams up with Ada and Elsa and head for the desert where they find that Adolf (no irony there) and his group of mercenary thugs are also looking for the gold, and after a lot of mishaps Asian Hawk finds himself in a fight to survive Adolf’s men and the traps within the base, and do all this and protecting his friends as well…
The story is flimsy, but still entertaining. Jackie is fun as the playfully confident Asian Hawk, still finding interesting ways to deposit gum into his mouth. Carol Cheng also holds herself up well as Ada, the stuck-up mission leader who isn’t as smart as she thinks she is, and Eva Cobo de Garcia, in her first role, is able to keep up with the comedy around her. The only weak link is this desert girl they also team up with midway through the film. She serves no real purpose, and I found her distracting. Adolf wasn’t quite as menacing as he should’ve been, but the way his story is ended was well done.
But who watches a Jackie Chan film for the story? The stunts and fights are the name of the game here, and it’s here the film shines, as Jackie commits some hellacious stunts, and I just have to say, there is a special stuntman out there I have to give mad props to: the guy who was sweeping the floor when Jackie rode by being chased by several goons in cars. The way that poor bastard hit the concrete was nothing short of epic. I swore up and down that guy got killed, and was the biggest Holy Sh**t moment in the film, at least for me. Fast forward and watch this poor bastard at mark 2:47:
Give that guy a Golden Horse! Actually, get him some Vicotin. And a chiropractor. Jackie’s stunts include the crazy bouncy ball ride and his jump from the motorcycle to just about the entire ending of the film, but nothing beats the wind tunnel fight scenes, which were just sublime.
The fights are also just a work of Jackie Chan art, and the best fight was Jackie versus the thugs on a series of tilting platforms as they jump from one to another, and then the final fight in the wind tunnel, which has to be a first for kung fu films. I was hoping for a bigger fight from Ken Lo, but his partner was good enough, and was giving Jackie a run for his money before the fan kicks up and the fun begins. As always, Jackie moves like water, and is so fluid he makes every fighting move look so effortless. While the fights are fantastic, they are choreographed for fun rather than having him place his opponents in traction, which his 80’s choreography excelled at (Sammo Hung was involved directly and indirectly in many of those early films, and his style of choreography–or rather the finishing move choreography–probably influenced his “little brother” Jackie at the time).
Operation Condor is a worthy sequel to Armor of God, and it’ll be great to see the Hawk return in Chinese Zodiac!
(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best):
CHOREOGRAPHY: (9) No one knows how to great inventive fight scenes like Jackie, and his stunt team did a great job following the choreography.
STUNT WORK: (10) Damn right, and that guy I referenced gave it this rating, though it would’ve been high because all of the stunt work, especially the wind tunnel fight, and the car stunts, were just awesome. But nothing beats “that guy”.
STAR POWER: (10) Jackie Chan was a superstar, and this during the height of his stardom. The other female actors were nothing to write home about, mostly being supermodels of one sort or other, but were adequate.
FINAL GRADE: (9) One of Jackie’s most fun films, and that’s saying something. Terrific entertainment featuring high adventure, comedy and exceptional fight choreography. Oh yeah, and “That Guy”.
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