Archive for the Stanley Tong Category

Review: Rumble In the Bronx (1995)

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

rumble2

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!

rumble3

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.

Rumble1

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!

Advertisements

Review: China Strike Force (2000)

Posted in Aaron Kwok, Kenneth Lo, Mark Dacascos, Stanley Tong on May 21, 2012 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Aaron Kwok,‭ ‬Marc Dacascos,‭ ‬Norika Fujiwara,‭ ‬Coolio,‭ ‬Leehom Wang,‭ ‬Ken Lo

Fight Choreography by Stanley Tong

Directed by Stanley Tong

 
China Strike Force follows  the adventures of two Hong Kong cops,‭ ‬Darren‭ (‬Kwok‭) ‬and his partner and best friend Alex‭ (‬Wang‭)‬,‭ ‬who play the typical not-following-the-rules detectives who run into a ton of trouble‭ ‬after witnessing an assassination at a fashion show they were attending to see Alex‭’‬s‭ ‬fiancée.‭ ‬The man committed the murders was an assassin sent by‭ ‬villains Tony Lau‭ (‬Dacascos‭) ‬and his‭ ‬South-central LA drug contact,‭ ‬the‭ ‬villainous‭…‬Coolio.‭ ‬They plan to ship drugs into China via tankers‭ (‬It‭’‬s never explained how Coolio got the money to do this.‭) ‬but standing in their way is Mau,‭ ‬the head of Tony Lau‭’‬s cartel.‭ ‬Darren and Alex also meet Norika‭ (‬played by the insanely beautiful Norika Fugiwara‭) ‬who may or may not‭ ‬be an undercover Japanese agent sent to bring down Coolio in an act of revenge.‭ ‬Darren and Alex find betrayal and danger as they deal with Lau and Coolio,‭ ‬leading to an‭ ‬all-out finale at a recreation of the Emperor‭’‬s palace‭…

Let‭’‬s get this out of the way:‭ ‬This isn‭’‬t a good film.‭ ‬It‭’‬s a Jackie Chan film that forgot to put Jackie Chan in it.‭ ‬Stanley Tong‭ ‬(Rumble in The Bronx,‭ ‬First Strike,‭ ‬Supercop‭)‬ directed this feature,‭ ‬and his‭ ‬fingerprints are all over this.‭ ‬Flimsy script‭? ‬Check.‭ ‬Silly,‭ ‬over the top characters‭? ‬Hell,‭ ‬you have Coolio in this.‭ ‬Check.‭ ‬His Jackie Chan-directed films have this problem too,‭ ‬but Jackie Chan‭’‬s presence is all over his films,‭ ‬and can make up for any of the above deficiencies.‭ ‬Aaron Kwok and Marc Dacascos,‭ ‬as good as they are,‭ ‬cannot.‭ ‬My biggest problem with this film are twofold:‭ ‬The film was shot for an English-speaking audience,‭ ‬so we have everyone save Marc Dacascos and Coolio‭ ‬speaking in broken English the entire film.‭ ‬At least those who can.‭ ‬Others are dubbed over,‭ ‬and the entire effect is‭ ‬off-putting and just stupid.

My other problem‭? ‬Coolio.‭ ‬Not just that he portrays the stereotypical‭ ‬Hollywood gangsta,‭ ‬but his acting is terrible,‭ ‬and too many scenes are devoted to him and Marc,‭ ‬who looks as if he‭’‬s thinking‭ (‬at least nowadays‭)‬:

“‬Jackie Chan gets Chris Tucker.‭ ‬Steven Seagal gets DMX and hell even that hobbit-looking rapper,‭ ‬so‭ ‬how‭ ‬in the hell did I‭ ‬wind up with Coolio‭?‬ They could‭’‬ve at least‭ ‬tried calling Kadeem Hardison.‭”‬

What‭’‬s even worse is that,‭ ‬with no buildup or forewarning,‭ ‬Coolio busts out martial arts at the end of the film that left me with a WTF‭?! ‬Moment.‭ ‬Suffice to say he was horrid,‭ ‬except for when his stuntman stepped in to do the more complex acrobatic movements.‭

Aaron Kwok‭ (‬The Storm Riders‭) ‬did a passable job as the hero,‭ ‬but even here he was too wooden.‭ ‬In fact,‭ ‬it‭’‬s as if Kwok and Wang were two halves of what should‭’‬ve been Jackie Chan without the charisma.‭ ‬Norika‭’‬s acting was marred by her terrible English delivery,‭ ‬but she acquitted herself well in the fights.‭ ‬Dacascos had a better part here,‭ ‬and played‭ ‬the villain well,‭ ‬but a shoddy script kept him from being a more memorable baddie.‭

The fight choreography follows what Stanley Tong likes to do:‭ ‬Fast,‭ ‬acrobatic but short fights that are full of stunts but the kicks and punches don‭’‬t appear to have any real power generation to them,‭ ‬so it looks cool,‭ ‬but it lacks that‭ ‬“oomph‭”‬.‭ ‬Jackie Chan can make that work‭ (‬of course JC has the final say on how long a fight scene is‭) ‬but Stanley forgot he wasn‭’‬t‭ ‬making a Jackie‭ ‬Chan film.‭ ‬You can see this at the end,‭ ‬where he has incorporated the gag and stunts-that-went-wrong reel that JC is famous for into the closing credits.

‭(‬On a scale of‭ ‬1-10,‭ ‬10‭ ‬being the best‭)‬:

CHOREOGRAPHY:‭ (‬5‭) ‬It was‭ ‬“meh‭”‬.‭ ‬Not bad,‭ ‬but nothing innovative or that fun to watch,‭ ‬but it moved with speed and everyone save Coolio looked great doing it.‭ ‬Dacascos needed better choreography that what he was given.‭ ‬Also,‭ ‬there was wirework‭ ‬in some scenes‭ ‬that was entirely unnecessary.‭ ‬Ken Lo‭ ‬(Drunken Master‭ ‬2‭) ‬wasn‭’‬t used nearly enough.

STUNT WORK:‭ (‬8‭) ‬The‭ ‬stuntmen did a‭ ‬good job here,‭ ‬taking some decent falls and reacting well to the choreography in regards to their timing.‭ ‬I wouldn‭’‬t be surprised if some of them were part of JC‭’‬s Stunt team.

STAR POWER:‭ (‬6‭) ‬There is some of that at work here.‭ ‬Aaron Kwok,‭ ‬Marc Dacascos,‭ ‬Ken Lo.‭ ‬We‭’‬ll try our best to forget Coolio.‭ ‬He actually downgrades the score here.

FINAL GRADE:‭ (‬5‭) ‬This film is probably the worst film Jackie Chan never made,‭ ‬and that‭’‬s a good thing.‭ ‬Stanley Tong needed to go back for more lessons from the Master.

NEXT:‭ Jet Li jumps into the Indiana Jones arena with Dr. Wai in The Scripture With No Words!

Review: Police Story 4: First Strike (1996)

Posted in Jackie Chan, Reviews, Stanley Tong with tags , on August 30, 2010 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Jackie Chan

Fight Choreography by Jackie Chan and Stanley Tong

Directed by Stanley Tong

Jackie Chan returns in what would be the final of the Police Story sequels. The question is as he continued at this time to try to tailor his Hong Kong films for a western audience, did he lose something in the process? The easy answer is yes, and I don’t know whether to fault Jackie Chan or Stanley Tong. The fault probably rests with both of them.

The film opens with Jackie Chan once again stepping into the shoes of Chan Ka-Kui as he and Uncle Bill (Bill Tung) decide, I guess because they’re shit bored, to help the CIA in finding a Russian woman whose boyfriend may be linked to a terrorist organization trying to acquire a nuclear device. Chan follow the woman to Russia and meets his CIA contact and old buddy Mark there. I can tell you what disappointed me from the get go immediately. No Maggie Cheung. No Michelle Yeoh. Barely any Bill Tung. Almost all of the hallmarks of the Police Story series are gone. That’s like saying let’s make a Star Trek movie with Kirk, but forget those other guys. But it’s Spock, McCoy and all the others that Kirk needs to be Kirk, and it’s the same here. Chan needs May to constantly be the foil and damsel in distress. Bill Tung needs to be the loving police chief uncle who barely has a clue. Without them, Chan isn’t Chan because he has no one to play off of. More on that later.

While in Russia Chan follows Natasha to her boyfriend, a mysterious ex-CIA operative named Tsui. He appears at first glance to be the one getting the nuclear device, and Chan finds himself teamed up with the Russian Secret Service under the command of a man named Gregor, but not before a James Bond style snow mobile and ski chase that ends in Chan dropping from an exploding helicopter into a frozen lake below. Brrr! Afterwards Chan and Gregor go to Australia, where Tsui’s sister Annie lives, knowing that he may have sent the nuclear materials to her, which is kind of fucked up if you think about it. Here’s a present from your estranged brother! Hope it doesn’t melt your face, or cause a few terrorists to shoot you with a rather large bullet! The only thing more silly than this is the different disguises Tsui wears, especially those jackass wigs. A blonde haired asian guy won’t get noticed by anyone…

Chan gets wrapped in Tsui’s family drama, and gets attacked in his hotel by 3 giant European guys, a hallmark of his late 90’s and early 2000 films. I have no damn idea where Jackie got in his head that we’d have fun watching him duck and avoid 3 same suited but poorly acting big guys, but whomever gave him that idea (Stanley, I’m looking at you) needed to be shot in the face. I’d trade all 3 of those big guys for one Yuen Wah.

After getting framed for killing Tsui’s father, Chan goes to see Annie after the funeral, and her cousins step up to kick his ass, and the best fight of the entire film is here, and it’s an instant classic as Jackie fights them as only he can, and ends it with a fantastic use of a metal ladder as a weapon. Afterward Jackie teams up with Tsui and Annie to stop the real terrorists in one final confrontation…

One of the hallmarks of Jackie’s films with Stanley is the very flimsy story the action is hung on, and it is at its worst here. The stunts are great as usual, but once again, Chan Ka-Kui has been turned into a cartoon character, and at no point do you ever really believe that he’s the underdog or in any real danger. Even the fight scenes have turned cartoonish, with the bad guys not even looking as if they are really getting hurt. This, and the lack of the other Police Story regulars, and the fact that there’s really no “police” in this story, has me believing that this is without a doubt the weakest entry of all the Police Story films. Jackie wanted to play James Bond, and has admitted as much in regards to this film. By all means do that, but don’t do it and call it Police Story.

(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best)

CHOREOGRAPHY: (7) The Ladder fight is an instant classic, one of Jackie’s best individual scenes, but still nothing compared with the Mall Fight or Playground Fights of the other films. After that, there isn’t much there.

STUNTS: (6) As always, the best stunts are from Jackie himself, but even his were a little underwhelming. Jackie just didn’t really imagine anything really elaborate or exciting for this one. The other stuntmen were kinda weak.

STAR POWER: (6) Jackie Chan just coasts along in this film and mugs for the camera. No one else stands out. None of the other Police Story participants are in this except Uncle Bill in a weak extended cameo. It just doesn’t feel like a Police Story film.

FINAL GRADE: (6) The weakest of the Police Story films. Still entertaining, probably more so if you’ve never seen any of the previous entries in the series.

Click the picture below to purchase!

Review: Police Story 3: Supercop (1992)

Posted in Jackie Chan, Maggie Cheung, Michelle Yeoh, Reviews, Stanley Tong, Yuen Wah with tags , , on August 5, 2010 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh, Maggie Cheung, Yuen Wah

Fight Choreography by Jackie Chan and Stanley Tong

Directed by Stanley Tong

Everyone was excited when news came that Jackie Chan would once again play supercop Ka-Kui in another installment of the Police Story series, and would bring fellow Peking Opera buddie Yuen Wah along for the ride, but while Supercop is a great action film, it marked the closing of the door on Jackie’s 80’s style films and would mark the films that would define him for the 90’s. That bodes good and bad depending on who you ask.

The film opens as Chan Ka-Kui is once again tricked by Uncle Bill and a new superintendent (I’m assuming the previous superintendent started attending high school, and his parents wouldn’t allow him to work anymore) to work with the Chinese (remember HK wasn’t part of China at the time) in order to find out what arms dealer Chabot is up to by going undercover and getting close to his man Panther. Some may be disappointed to know that this is not Jackie Chan versus the Thundercats, but I’ll forgive anyone who thinks that to this point. At least they don’t take half the film to get Chan to do shit, and he and May seem to have patched things up from Police Story 2.

Chan is teamed up with Inspector Yang (Yeoh), a hard ass Chinese police officer who isn’t very impressed with Supercop Chan, and he doesn’t exactly like her too much either. To test his skills first she tricks him into fighting the top police martial arts instructor. A small fight that is well done, but no where near the caliber of any of the fights in the previous films, and that accounts for this entire film, but more on that later.

The goal to getting close to Panther (Wah) is to make it as if Chan is one of the men hired to break Panther out of prison. The escape scenes are filled with good stunt work, and a pretty good fight (more on that later) between Chan and the prison guards. He takes Panther and some of his men to his fictional home, only to find that Uncle Bill is posing as his mother, and Yang is there as his fictional sister, and immediately we see that they in fact do have a very believable relationship as brother and sister with the way they bicker at each other, fooling Panther further, but the suspense is good here as Panther is always one mistake away from figuring the whole deception out.

After another pretty good fight in a bar where Michelle Yeoh really gets to show her stuff, both she and Chan are taken to Chabot, who is not, in fact, the main enemy of the Gobots, but a batshit crazy arms dealer whose wife is really the brains behind their operation, but she’s currently awaiting trial in prison, and he plans to get her out, but first wants to eliminate the arms dealer competition, and does so by meeting them in a private location i.e. a place where large number of people can get shot or blown up without anything but satellites being able to know it was happening, and they should have, since the battle that takes place looks like a scene out of Rambo. What takes it to another level is that fact that Yang is wearing a bulletproof vest lined with explosives, and one bullet and she goes kaboom, and she knows that, but Chan doesn’t, which leads to some funny moments when he tries to use her as a human shield.

Chabot succeeds in killing his competition off, and now turns his crazy ass to seeing about breaking his wife out of prison. By the way, when I say crazy, I mean Jack Nicholson crazy. He just laughs uncontrollably at damn near anything.

They head to Malaysia for the finale, and no sooner do they arrive than trouble starts when May arrives as a tour guide with a bunch of travellers, with no idea Chan is there, as he had lied earlier and told her he was going to a police conference. Sooo, their relationship still needs a bit of work. Soon she learns that he is indeed there, and in typical May fashion flies off the handle, but not anywhere near what she did in Police Story 2, which is a shame, but probably for the best as she nearly gives the game away, and eventually does so thinking she’s helping Chan out, which leads to her getting caught once again by the bad guys, and Panther will exchange her so long as Chan and Yang help break out Mrs. Chabot.

They do free her, and in a total dick move Chabot drops May out of a helicopter from 2 stories up and ricochets her body off of a car. This leads to the jaw dropping finale as Yang hangs off of a van that nearly collides with a bus, and Chan flies all over the city of Kuala Lumpur at the end of a rope ladder tied to a helicopter that is flying nearly 10-20 stories high! They eventually land on moving train where they have a final fight with Chabot and his men to bring his wife back into police custody. They win the day, and the film draw to an end, and a new era of Jackie Chan films begins.

Choreography: (7) With this film, and what we will see for the 90’s, gone are the elaborate fight scenes where stuntmen get their asses handed to them in frenetic fight scenes that are beautiful in their chaos, and here we get fights that seem more cartoonish in nature, and the threat of Ka-Kui getting killed has lost its flavor, as he never really seems over his head, which is the hallmark of Stanley Tong’s fight choreography style, more movement than consequence, and Jackie would use this style for many films of the 90’s, the ones Americans would largely see. There were also no signature fight scene, like the Mall fight in part 1 or the playground fight in part 2.

Stuntwork: (9) Good work by all involved, but this really gets the high marks for specifically the stunts Chan and Yeoh do, particularly the bus scene for Yeoh and the helicopter ride for Jackie. That shit was insane.

Star Power: (9) Jackie and Michelle Yeoh at the height of their skills do a great job here, and any time you can see Yuen Wah is a good thing, but there wasn’t enough of either Bill Tung or Maggie Cheung, and after the great performance she had in Police Story 2, it’s a shame she was relegated to what amounted to a guest starring appearance.

Final Grade: (7) A good action film that put less emphasis on the martial arts and much more on the stuntwork, and that’s not so good for martial arts film fans. We’ll have to wait a while before we see Jackie in more fight intensive films. Luckily he made one of the greatest ever during the 90’s version of JC, but this ain’t it.

Click the picture below to purchase!