Monday, January 25, 2010

Movie Review: City Hunter

The Jackie Chan Film Festival continues with a lesser entry, City Hunter, which is apparently based on a popular Japanese manga. I have no idea what the tone of the original source material is, but the keyword for this film version is "goofy". And not the American type of goofy - this is the goofy used in Asian films (and the comedy over there is already way up on the goofy scale). Lots of mugging, double-takes, cartoon sound effects and ogling bodies going on as a large collection of characters intersect on a cruise ship. It had me longing for the relative restraint of the Lucky Stars films.

And somewhere in the midst of all of this is Jackie, playing the title character as a womanizing, self-important and vain private detective. It really is a fairly unlikeable character, quite unlike the normal Jackie Chan character. It doesn't help that most other characters in the movie aren't any better. There's City Hunter's attractive young ward, always wishing that he would hit on her for a change; a terrorist leader that all but twirls his non-existent mustache; the slimy on-the-prowl sidekick that is predictably hit on - by one of the male terrorists; and a pair of god-awful-annoying "comics" who get an extended song-and-dance number halfway through the movie.

There really isn't anything remotely of promise until near the end, where Jackie finally starts fighting his way through the bad guys. One imaginative scene has City Hunter crashing into an arcade machine; when he wakes up, he and his opponent have been transformed into Street Fighter characters, right down to the special moves and sound effects. It's pretty well-done (more so than most of the rest of the film) and got a few actual laughs. Beyond that scene, though, there really isn't much else that sticks in the memory in a good way.

My advice - if you must, just forward ahead to the last thirty minutes. You can find a little bit to interest you there. But as for the rest - avoid. One star. Up next: Jackie gets a little more serious (although it would be hard not to) in Crime Story.

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