Archive for the Jackie Chan Category

Review: Snake In The Eagle’s Shadow (1975)

Posted in Chi Ling Chiu, Fung Hak-On, Hwang Jang Lee, Jackie Chan, Roy Horan, Simon Yuen, Yuen Woo Ping with tags , on May 13, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

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Starring Jackie Chan, Simon Yuen, Hwang Jang Lee, Fung Hak-on, Peter Chan, Charlie Chan, Roy Horan, Chi Ling Chiu

Fight Choreography by Yuen Woo Ping

Directed by Yuen Woo Ping

Snake In The Eagle’s Shadow represents a turning point in the career of Jackie Chan; he was deemed a failure by Lo Wei after several box office disappointments. The heir to Bruce Lee he was most definitely not; just another stuntman who couldn’t cut the mustard as a star. So when Golden Harvest came calling, Lo Wei had no qualms about lending Jackie to them. Jackie, understanding that the end was near, asked to control his own films, and to do something no one had really thought of: allowing Jackie to be Jackie, and not Bruce. That thinking, along with pulling JC into the orbit of the Yuen family, culminated in this film, which would become the thematic template to the film that will make Jackie Chan a major star, Drunken Master.

So what to make of the Snake?

In this film we find that he Snake Fist school has been under attack by the Eagle Claw school, and that for a school that once boasted over 3000 members now only has a few left (that’s not an attack. That’s war). We find that Mr. Ass Kicker himself Sheng Kuan (Lee) as he takes out another Snake fist master (Fung Hak-On). Next we meet one of the last masters of the form,  Master Pai Cheng Tien (Yuen), who wanders around as a beggar. His travels brings him to the orbit of a kindly young man Chien Fu (Chan) who “trains” at a school that, while the Master is away, is run by two buffoons who ridicule and embarrass him at every turn. Taking a liking to Chien Fu, Pai Cheng Tien decides to teach him the style of Snake Fist, but warns him not to show it. But since this is Jackie Chan, of course he’ll use it! This brings Sheng Kuan and several assassins to attempt to kill the last remaining Snake Fist masters…but Cheng Fu has a surprise waiting for them…

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Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow really shows the comedy that would become a hallmark of Jackie’s early films and career as a whole. Jackie himself, at least this time, is playing a nice young man, rather than the rapscallions he would later play. Even in this early film, it’s easy to see why JC became the superstar that he is. He has a great screen presence, and his kung fu is fun to watch, especially since he fell under the wing of the Yuen family, Speaking of whom, Simon Yuen, the real ODB himself, is as crazy fun to watch as he ever was. Is there any doubt that Simon Yuen was to Jackie Chan in these early films what Bill Tung would be for his later ones? They were both great comedic foils for JC to play off of, and they are both sorely missed.

Hwang Jang Lee is just awesome, this being a warm-up (as it was for everyone) for his role in Drunken Master. Roy Horan is decent as one of the assassins, and his finale…damn! The story itself is simple but hey, that’s the novel joy of it, and Yuen Woo Ping keeps things moving at a brisk pace, and the training sequences are standout, as is the scene where JC finally practices the Snake Fist form. Still glad to see films where the hero is not an instant badass who is a kung fu expert right out of the womb.

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This film also answers a trivia question “what’s the worst kill of Jackie Chan’s career?” Roy Horan gets the nod here, and his death by skewered testicles ranks up there with some of the worst as JC just pulls a Sonny Chiba on his unfortunate ballsack. I can’t decide if Horan’s death scene is one of the worst acted or one of the best. It’s just that cruel an ending for him. He could’ve screamed for his mommy at the point and I wouldn’t have blamed him.

The fights are as imaginative as Woo Ping has ever been, but is only a small taste for what’s to come. The final fight with Hwang Jang Lee, Jackie Chan, and Simon Yuen is as great as you would think, but still only a small, small taste of what’s to come. Woo Ping brings out the playfulness in JC, and that’s the thing I think Woo Ping does so well; he matches his fight choreography to the personalities of the actor/fighter.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8

A great kung-fu film that became Jackie Chan’s first real hit film, and would set the stage for one of the greatest kung fu films of all time! A fun filled spectacle to watch.

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Review: Winners and Sinners (1983)

Posted in Dick Wei, Fat Chung, Fung Hak-On, Jackie Chan, James Tien, Lam Ching Ying, Mars, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao with tags , on March 2, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

Winners Sinners 3

Starring Sammo Hung, Richard Ng, Stanley Fung, John Sham, Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao, Dick Wei, Moon Lee, James Tien, Mars, Fung Hak-on, Wu Ma, Lam Ching Ying, Fat Chung.

Fight Choreography by Sammo Hung

Directed by Sammo Hung

The first official film in the Lucky Stars series finds our first iteration of the group (really missing Eric Tsang!) meeting for the first time in prison, after they are all put there due to their bad luck, and, well, they aren’t really very good and playing bad guys. They form a bond, and the team, consisting of Teapot (Hung), Curly (Sham), Exhaust Pipe (Ng), Vaseline (Charlie Chan), and Rookie (Fung) decide to join Curly’s sister in a cleaning business called the Five Stars Cleaning Company. Meanwhile, a rather bad cop named CID 07 (Chan) does a really inept job of trying to catch a group of drug dealers attached to Jack Tar (Tien), and a mishap causes a briefcase that contains counterfeit plates lands in the hands of the Lucky Stars. Of course they are oblivious at first as they are obsessed with trying to get into the pants of Curly’s sister but soon find themselves in danger as Tar thinks the Five Stars Cleaning company are another rival gang. Most of the Lucky Stars are taken hostage, and its up to Teapot to save his friends and get the girl…

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Too much fun. That’s what all of these actors bring to the table. The story is flat and unoriginal, but never mind that. The Lucky Stars are the draw here, and in particular Sammo Hung and Richard Ng. Sammy brings his innocence as Teapot, a fighter who is good at being a good guy but bad at being a bad guy, but wants to get the girl in the end. Richard Ng, clothes or not, is hilarious as he tries to pull off his complex shenanigans all to see one woman naked, but of course he’s the nut job of the group as well. John Sham brings his normal manic energy to liven things up, and Jackie Chan is on hand to provide stunts, and at the same time play a real prick of a cop. Many HK stars come out to play, and Tien chews the scenes like a nice ham sandwich as Tar, but I was hoping to see more from Lam Ching-Ying as the Butler. As good as everyone is, there is one scene that still has me laughing out loud, involving Vaseline and two thugs, none of whom know kung-fu, but can all strike poses as if they did, and they engage in trying to out-pose each other in the middle of bodies and chairs flying around…and watching what happens when Exhaust Pipe enters this strange scene will have you rolling.

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A warning to Jackie Chan fans: he isn’t the star of this film, and this is the Lucky Stars film where he shows up the least, even though adverts showcase him as if he were one of the major stars of the film.

The fight scenes are as great as one could hope for, the best being the finale in the warehouse as Teapot takes on Fung Hak-On, Dick Wei, and two bald fighters in a duel to the finish. Jackie Chan has a brief fight with Yuen Biao that was under cranked (actions filmed on a slower frame rate to make the speed of the actual fight faster) in a way I thought wasn’t necessary. The battle at Tar’s mansion was also a standout, especially the results of an ill-fated piano jump (you’ll have to see for yourself!). The roller-skating stunts by Jackie Chan were good also, but went a bit overlong, but was worth it for the massive car pileups that occurs at the end of the sequence. With the exception of the final warehouse fight, this is probably the Lucky Stars film with the least impressive fight scenes in the series.

However, any film where Fat Chung sports a Jheri Curl:

Fat Chung

is just gold to me.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8

Not my favorite of the series, but it’s still a fun first entry into the world of the Lucky Stars! 

Jackie Chan, Adrien Brody, and John Cusack! The Dragon Blade Trailer!

Posted in Jackie Chan on December 26, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

Thanks to friend of Kiai-Kick Lee Golden for this one! I have to say, the production value looks amazing, and for perhaps the first time ever Jackie Chan gets to rock with GOOD Hollywood actors! The trailer seems  a bit disjointed, but I’m still game!

Review: Rumble In the Bronx (1995)

Posted in Jackie Chan, Stanley Tong on August 19, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

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Starring Jackie Chan, Anita Mui, Francoise Yip, Garvin Cross, Marc Akerstream, Bill Tung

Fight Choreography by Jackie Chan

Directed by Stanley Tong

When word came that Jackie Chan was making a return to America, visions of films like The Protector and Battle Creek Brawl swept through many people’s minds. But Mortal Kombat, which had come earlier in the year, proved that martial arts, which had been non-existent except for JCVD and Steven Seagal, was still popular. Jackie Chan did make his return, but did it his way, and finally Jackie found the success in America that had eluded him for so long. So what was Rumble in The Bronx like?

Rumble finds Jackie Chan as Keung, a Hong Kong cop vacationing in New York, there to attend the wedding of his Uncle Bill (Tung), who owns his own store in the Bronx. Not long after Keung arrives than trouble finds him as he thwarts a local gang during one of their “amusements”. He must also content with Elaine (Mui), the new owner of Uncle Bill’s store, who finds she may be far over her head. Toss in stolen diamonds, a villainous gangster named White Tiger who will stop at nothing to get them, and Keung falling for the leader of the gang’s girlfriend Nancy (Yip) and the stage is set for fights, stunts, and derring-do!

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Rumble in the Bronx has a story that a 10-year-old could write, dubbed dialogue, subbing in Vancouver for The Bronx, and a host of other things that would sink other films, but the hell with that, this is Jackie Chan, and while this isn’t one of his best films, it IS one of his funnest (is that a word?). Jackie plays the character he plays best, which is himself. He’s affable to a fault, a hero who doesn’t look for trouble but it surely finds him, and the physical comedy Chan is known for. Anita Mui is game for all of the hijinks, and is able to successfully share the screen with Chan, and of course no Chan film (at least his late 90’s films) is worth its salt without the greatness that is Bill Tung. The bad guys are utterly forgettable, just a group of big guys who grunt a lot and look at Chan menacingly. Stanley Tong keeps things moving at a brisk pace and thankfully never wastes time moving the story along, not allowing the logic of the film catch up to them.

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The stunts are just as insane as one would want. Everything from the building jump during a chase to the boat jump that broke his ankle, Chan is in top form, and nowhere is this apparent than in the big fight vs the entire gang, where Chan uses everything around him as weapons, and mixing it with kung fu that shows off Chan’s speed and grace, expertly choreographed, which for Chan fans was expected, but to American audiences it was the signal that Seagal and JCVD’s time had come to an end. If I had one gripe it might have been the absence of a Superkicker to really challenge Jackie, but that is just a wishful nitpick on my part!

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 9

Jackie Chan brought his insanity to the USA shores, and we are all better for it! A rollicking, insanely fun movie that shows Chan at his best!

Review: Who Am I? (1998)

Posted in Jackie Chan, Kwan Yung, Ron Smoorenburg with tags , on September 23, 2013 by Michael S. Moore

Who am I 5

Starring Jackie Chan, Ron Smerczak, Ron Smoorenburg, Kwan Yung, Michelle Ferre, Mirai Yamamoto, Ken Lo, Kane Kosugi, Ed Nelson

Fight Choreography by Jackie Chan

Directed by Benny Chan

The 1990’s is really the last major time that Jackie Chan’s cinematic output was really good. There were some pandering to western audiences, even with his Hong Kong output, but his skills were still way up there, even though he was showing small signs of decline. One of his final films before the new millennium would see some of the things that make Jackie Chan films great, and things that ensure that there is no way any of those films would win an award for acting. Such is the case with Who am I?

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Jackie plays, well, Jackie, an agent working alongside an international group of soldiers for the CIA under the command of Morgan (Smerczak), and they are tasked with kidnapping several scientists who are using an unstable new ore to create a new power source. The plan goes well, but the team is betrayed, and all are killed except for Jackie, who finds himself saved by an African tribe, and also suffers memory loss. After living with the tribe for a time, they are able to find the wreckage of his helicopter, and the bodies of his friends. Jackie’s memories are fragmented, but he does somewhat remember them. After joining a road race, and finishing first, Jackie goes on a mission to find out what happened to him and the scientists, which puts him in the crosshairs of Morgan and General Sherman (Nelson), who have their own uses for the scientists. Jackie never knows who to trust, and even the most unlikeliest people pose the greatest threat…

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Who am I? is a really fun, rollicking film that despite its premise is a grand time, and without a doubt one of JC’s best 90’s films. The story is basic and somewhat predictable, but Jackie is able to play the character well, even in the dramatic moments, save for a few moments where he tries to go “Academy Awards” and winds up going all Darth Vader “Noooooooooooo!” on us. But I have to say, while the acting in his films has been passable, there are two actors who were mind-stabbingly bad. That would be Mirai Yamamoto and Michelle Ferre, playing the female leads respectively. Gorgeous women to be sure, but both of them were nails-on-a-chalkboard terrible. In the case of Michelle Ferre I get that as she actually WAS a reporter, and not an actress, so I’m more forgiving of her part. JC was wrong to put her in the film regardless of how much he liked her or how cute she was. Ron Smerczak was really good as Morgan, creating a more serious foe for JC than he’d had in a while. What bothered me about his performance is that there are several lines where you know he was dubbed for some odd reason. That actually goes for other characters in the film in some spots. It just pulled me out of the film.
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The fights and the stunts are the things to see here, just like in the best of Jackie Chan movies, and there is no lack of it here, with car stunts, avoiding getting crushed by a piano stunt, and the terrific slide down the side of a skyscraper with no wires (try that, Tom Cruise). The choreography is well done, and start off small but they end in what is one of JC’s last truly great fights:

Jackie Chan versus Ron Smoorenburg and Kwan Yung.

This rooftop fight is absolutely fantastic, with both men specializing in arts the emphasize fists for one and feet for the other. Ron Smoorenburg is terrific here, and takes his place alongside some of the best super-kickers to ever fight Jackie Chan going all the way back to Hwang Jang Lee. If there is a particular reason I could give you to see this film, this is it. The fight is fast, furious, funny, and just plain epic.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8.5

A good James Bond-esque adventure that features some truly terrible acting but one of the best onscreen fights of Jackie’s 90’s output. I recommend it! 

Review: Dragon Lord (1982)

Posted in Corey Yuen, Fung Hak-On, Hwang In-Sik, Jackie Chan, Mars, Wai-Man Chan with tags , on July 9, 2013 by Michael S. Moore

Dragon Lord

Starring Jackie Chan, Mars, Wai-Man Chan, Fung Hak-On, Hwang In-Sik, Corey Yuen

Fight Choreography by Jackie Chan

Directed by Jackie Chan

Jackie Chan Dragon Lord was supposed to be a sequel to the hit film The Young Master, but was changed later. This film was something of a transition film, which saw JC leaving the traditional kung fu films and lacing them with the stunts he would be come known for. This film also gives his buddy Mars, a veteran of many Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung movies a chance to shine.

Dragon Lord follows the adventures of Dragon (Chan) and his buddy Cowboy (Mars). Both are two immature teens whose fathers fret over them constantly. Cowboy’s father is wealthy, so he always feels a sense of entitlement. Dragon, on the other hand, is lazy and spends his days pulling pranks with his posse. What both boys have in common are the town’s past-time: sports games. The film opens with one of the craziest scenes of King of the Hill you’ll ever see, with a ton of guys trying to climb their way up a hill to grab a golden football. After this what ensues is rugby-Jackie Chan style, so know what kind of oh-my-god-did-you-see-that shenanigans that will ensue. Things get dicey for the two boys when they both fall for the same girl, which leads to a rift in their friendship as they try to one-up the other. But there’s nothing to brings two friends back together in a Jackie Chan film like a bad guy, and we have the return of Hwang In-Sik (The Young Master) as a badass who leads a group of soldiers, one of whom, Lu Chen (Wai-Man Chan) isn’t keen on their latest criminal enterprise, the stealing and selling of ancient Chinese artifacts in order to fund their overthrow of the government. He leaves the gang, but of course you don’t just leave, and Dragon and Cowboy find themselves trying to save Lu Chen and stop a coup if they can survive both the traitorous soldiers and their fathers…

Dragon Lord Jackie Chan

Dragon Lord is a very entertaining movie, and for once Mars gets to step beside JC instead of behind him, and does a good job as JC’s friend and foil. Jackie Chan is good as the clueless Dragon, but it’s virtually the same character he’s perfected in Fearless Hyena, The Young Master and Drunken Master, so nothing bad, but nothing original either. Look out for my personal favorite Fung Hak-on as a competitor in the shuttlecock / soccer game that becomes increasingly insane as the game goes on. Hwang In-Sik is good at playing a badass in this, as always, and Wai-Man Chan also shines as a good guy (for a change). The story itself is paper thin, and exists simply for the action scenes, but, in the case of Jackie Chan, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Dragon Lord Jackie Chan

There aren’t as many fights as you would expect in this film, the sports games taking a part of what would normally have been devoted to a fight. The final battle between Jackie Chan, Mars, and Hwang In-Sik is like The Passion of Jackie Chan 2: Mars Gets His Ass Kicked Too. They don’t so much beat the bad guy as much as wearing him down as he beats the holy hell out of them. That kind of ass-kicking can tire anyone out, and JC and Mars both take vicious falls and kicks, and I cringed at a particularly painful fall Mars pulls off.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8

The Jackie Chan and Mars scenes are great, but in the case of Jackie Chan we’ve seen this character many, many times before. Still, it’s a movie full of crazy stunts and wild action. The crazy sports scenes are the highlights of this one!