Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mini-Reviews: Winners And Sinners and The Protector

Before I get around to the next official Jackie Chan Film Festival film, I thought I'd toss in a few thoughts on a couple of movies that I'm skipping over.

The first is Winners And Sinners, which is the first film in a Sammo Hung-directed series that would continue with My Lucky Stars. And like My Lucky Stars, this isn't really an "action-comedy" so much as a "comedy with a little action". And that should be "very little comedy" and "very little action". Jackie only shows up basically in a cameo role to provide one action sequence where he gets to dig out his roller-skates from Battle Creek Brawl to chase down an escaping car. But even this brief action sequence isn't particularly well-done; the sped-up film is very obvious, as are the jump cuts used to splice different shots together. These seams didn't show up nearly as often in Police Story or Project A, and are pretty disappointing given Sammo's usually-good work behind the camera.

As for the comedy, it's most of the same cast from My Lucky Stars, and the sequences are just about as interminable. They hit on the one girl in the cast, they prank each other, they act like idiots. There's no reason anyone needs to see one of these guys parading around nude because he thinks he has mastered invisibility. Urgh. This one is worse than the sequel, so one star for it.

The Protector isn't much better. This is the 1985 Jackie Chan film, by the way, not the unrelated Tony Jaa film. The Protector was Jackie's second try (after the aforementioned Battle Creek Brawl) at breaking into the American market, and it was just about as successful. It's a typical 80's mismatched cop-action film - the serious kind, not the comedic 48 Hrs. kind - where Jackie is paired with Danny Aiello in a horrible performance as a lumbering, vaguely-racist cop helping Jackie track down his former partner's killer. This one's mostly known for going places Jackie didn't usually go in his own films - gratitutous nudity, lots of gun-play and a completely stone-faced serious character. It didn't work. There are a few fight sequences here, but the director apparently thought he knew better than one of the top fight choreographers in Hong Kong how to set up a martial arts scene, so Jackie got no input into that, either. The result is a pretty grim affair all the way around. To see Jackie as a cop, stick with the Police Story series. A low two stars.

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