Monday, May 3, 2010

Movie Review: Jackie Chan's First Strike

This film is pretty typical of the movies in this period of Jackie Chan's career - a comedy/action film set in the current-day, with heavy emphasis on the stunts and "environmental fights" (fight sequences that focus on Jackie using any- and everything around him to fight off his opponents). Nominally connected in some way to the earlier Police Story movies, my English dub simply calls his character "Jackie" and doesn't pretend to be a sequel in any way.

What hasn't changed is that he is still "the only cop that can do the job" - here, he starts out assisting the C.I.A. on some operation and then somehow gets loaned out to the K.G.B. as part of a joint American-Russian operation (!?!?). The goal is to track down a rogue double agent trying to sell nuclear material to another rogue Russian officer (lots of rogues in this one). But, as usual, keeping track of the plot holes really isn't the point - just let all that drift away as we go from one action set piece and one odd comedy bit to the next.

There are several good sequences to be found here. I had happened across the opening of the James Bond flick A View To A Kill earlier in the day, and the ski/snowmobile/helicopter chase in First Strike is miles better than the one that opens the Bond film. A particular highlight occurs late, when Jackie takes on a staff-welding gang in a church and holds them off with tables, chairs and a stepladder. That's the kind of sequence that got me into Jackie's films in the first place, and this one is just great. Add in an underwater battle in a shark tank, and you got enough Jackie Chan action bits to keep you satisfied.

And I'm not sure where they found so many seven-foot tall mountain men for Jackie to run away from.

After a few films where Jackie seemed to have the comedy bits more under control, things slip way off the deep end here. There's a scene where Jackie is stripped naked by a bad guy looking for a wire (one for the ladies, I guess) - he then is handed a giant penguin mascot suit to wear in its place, and the next few scenes process in all seriousness with Jackie dressed as the mascot. Just bizarre.

Like most of his 90's films, this one is no classic, but it's an above average action film. Just turn off your brain in between the set pieces, and you'll have a lot of fun. Three solid stars here. Next up: Jackie is once again the ordinary man (who happens to be a karate superman) in the wrong place in Mr. Nice Guy.

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