Friday, April 10, 2009

Movie Review: Heart Of Dragon

Finally getting back to another entry in the ongoing Jackie Chan Film Festival. Sadly, it's not a very good entry. Here we are, smack dab in the middle of a great string of films (the Police Story and Project A series are both started, and Armour of God is just around the corner), and we come up with this clunker.

This Sammo Hung-directed affair features Hung and Chan as brothers - Hung as a mentally-retarded thirty-year old, Jackie as his cop brother and guardian. For whatever reason, Jackie's character Tat wants to quit the police force (even though he appears to be about the only competent cop we see) and become a sailor. However, he can't without leaving his brother to fend for himself (not to mention his fiance - does Jackie ever have a successful relationship in any of his movies?). So the first half of the movie is broad melodrama, as we see Hung's Danny character get into a series of minor problems, Tat get him out of trouble, and then tries to figure out how to get on his boat. Almost no action at all during this segment, which seems to go on forever.

Things marginally pick up in the second half, as Danny inadvertently gets involved in a robbery that Tat's police unit is investigating, and ends up becoming a hostage. This leads to the only real extended action sequence in the film, as Tat and his unit battle the criminal gang in a construction site. There are some good moments during this sequence, and it ends up being one of the more brutal fight scenes I've seen Jackie in so far (not many Chan movies have Jackie killing a guy with a machete to the neck!). There's also a few nice stunt moments here, but aside from Jackie's brief but brutal fight, it's all fairly generic stuff in terms of the martial arts.

The films then closes with a weird montage - Tat and friends are sent to prison for their actions, and so we see Jackie moping around in jail, looking vaguely suicidal, interspersed with scenes of Danny running around outside, having a good time, apparently oblivious to Tat's predicament. Just a strange downer ending to a strange film.

So, another attempt by Jackie to do something different than his usual action and stunt extravaganza, but a big misfire on his part. Two stars, and that's only for the ending sequence - the rest is one star at best. Up next: Jackie does Sammo another favor, helping to launch a new movie series in My Lucky Stars.

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