Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Movie Review: Mr. Nice Guy

The next Jackie Chan film in my on-going, never-ending film festival is similar in outline to some of his previous films, such as Thunderbolt and Rumble In The Bronx. That is, it's set in contemporary times and he isn't playing a cop or a spy, just an ordinary guy....who happens to be a martial arts expert. This time, he's a TV chef who gets caught up in helping a female reporter escape from two groups of mobsters whose drug deal she managed to videotape. Along for the ride are his newly-arrived fiance and his female producer, who prove to be much less annoying than the female threesome Jackie schleped around the desert with in Operation Condor.

If you liked his other movies of this period (such as the above mentioned movies and the preceding First Strike), you'll probably like this one. It's the same mix of a thin plot, destructive stunts, and some fascinating fight scenes set in locales with lots of stuff to throw around. A Jackie Chan fight scene set at a construction site is certain to be fun, and the one here is no exception (stunts set on an operating table saw are a highlight).

The painful humor level is toned down a bit - this one was apparently targeting a more Western audience, as it was filmed in Australia and features a mostly English-speaking cast. (The director, the great Sammo Hung, does give himself a pretty funny cameo appearance.) What isn't toned down, though, is the scenery-chewing by the bad guys. Half of them are another faux-eighties street gang similar to the one from Bronx, and the other half are led by a cigar-chomping Richard Norton - neither side seems particularly scary or at all realistic.

And sadly, it's another movie (like Thunderbolt and Bronx) where things don't end up with a Jackie Chan fight against "the big boss" - instead, it's a vehicular stunt sequence, with Jackie tearing down a mansion with what may be the largest construction truck seen on film. An impressive amount of damage, to be sure, but why can't we end with an impressive fight scene, like his early films?

So, all-in-all another solid three star effort for this one. As I said, Jackie was in a very consistent state during this part of his career, so if you liked any of these early 90's films, you should probably give the others a shot, too. Up next: Jackie forgets his name, but probably not his moves, in Who Am I.

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