Review by Michael Jacobson
Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Donnie Yen, Fann Wong
Director: David Dobkin
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Features: See Review
Length: 114 Minutes
did your dad do?”
was Keeper of the Imperial Seal.”
what I love about China…all your job descriptions sound so damn cool!”
open letter to Jackie Chan…
from one of your long time American fans! I
hope this writing finds you well…it will no doubt find you as busy as always,
doing what you love and what you do best, which is making your own brand of
movie magic that for decades has made you the biggest film star in the world, my
those of us who love you, your magic will never fade away.
Some harsher critics may say that you’re showing signs of slowing down
as you age, but don’t we all? And
frankly, I can’t fathom what they define as ‘slow’, anyway.
You’ve got more zip as you approach 50 than I did when I was 19.
I know for all your international success, America still remains a problem for
you. When you were the top box
office draw all across Asia, you came to Hollywood and were reduced to a silly
bit part in Cannonball Run, where they even cast you as a Japanese man
though you were Chinese. The
Protector gave you top billing, but was made by people who had no real faith
in you and tried to make a Hollywood action picture instead of Jackie Chan
picture…remember how you had to re-cut and re-shoot certain scenes just so the
movie would play for your fans in the East?
was pleased when Rush Hour became a blockbuster.
But at the same time, you seemed to stumble on a formula for American
success that seems a little less than worthy of a star of your caliber.
Namely, playing sidekick to American stars who could have never gotten a
foot in the door of one of your own Hong Kong productions.
that movie and its sequel came another double dip, Shanghai Noon and Shanghai
Knights, again pairing you up with an American star, this time Owen Wilson.
I liked the first movie well enough.
It wasn’t as classic as some of your best Asian films, particularly the
ones you or Sammo Hung directed, but it was an amusing diversion.
But when you dipped into that well a second time, it occurred to me that
something was going seriously wrong in your career.
uninspired, unfunny, and mostly uninteresting.
I saw the film for you. Some
may have seen it for Owen Wilson. Whether
they liked it any better, I can’t say, but I can say that it pained me to see
you, with all your energy and spirit, so dutiful in your approach to material
that was clearly beneath you.
realize that as age and injury begin to catch up with you that you can’t do
some of the same stunts that made you a household name in the Orient.
But you can still perform an unparalleled acrobatic fight scene that puts
you head and shoulders above other action stars.
That alone makes you cinema royalty, and as such, the studios should be
laying down red carpet for you, not empty paper trails.
showcase your fighting and comedy skills in a picture where they’re quagmired
in a hokey plot with a weak script whose attempts at being funny are so
painfully obvious that the audience winces more often than it laughs?
True, some of your more formidable pictures may have been a little weak
in the plot department, but they treated your abilities and your star power like
the treasures they are. To American
studios, they seem to think your treasures should be buried.
movie has its moments, to be sure…you have enough charm to make chemistry with
any costar, so even when you’re mismatched with a gleefully clueless surfer
boy type like Owen Wilson, you still find some magic. When you fight using anything and everything around you as a
weapon, you’re still the best. And
costar Fann Wong is a suitable star to support you, for she’s not only
comfortable with the action, but one of the loveliest women I’ve seen on
screen in a while.
may be good enough for Hollywood standards, and certainly decent enough for most
mainstream American tastes. But why
lower yourself? Is the elusive
Western success really that important to you, and now that you’ve had a taste
of it, you need more? Trust me,
Jackie, and I don’t say this with any pleasure, but there’s something
basically wrong with a culture that embraces Shanghai Knights and the Rush
Hour movies while largely ignoring the theatrical releases of your truly
amazing Hong Kong offerings like Legend of Drunken Master or Operation
Condor. If I could, I’d ask
anyone who thinks of the Shanghai movies when they think of Jackie Chan
to sit down and watch Police Story. Or
Project A II. These people
don’t know what they’re missing.
sadly, when you give in and make these kinds of pictures, they never will.
As far as I and many of your truest fans are concerned, and I’m talking
about the ones who know Young Master and Dragon Lord better than The
Tuxedo and who painstakingly seek out your original, uncut, subtitled action
masterpieces without dubbing or horrible interjections of Western music, your
star will never fade no matter what you do.
But it’s a star that deserves more than that…it should shine with all
the glory of your true self, the one who has always made pictures your way and
enjoyed international acclaim as a result.
If America won’t come on board and embrace the real Jackie Chan, it’s
there will never be another one like you. And
as long as you have a passion, drive, and ability to make movies, you should do
them your way. Don’t reduce
yourself to something that feels equal to what most Western audiences expect.
Remember that you have no equal. Some
may never appreciate that. But to
your millions of fans around the world, and yes, there are even some here in the
States, that’s why we always have and always will love you.
friend from the USA,
is a mostly solid anamorphic offering from Touchstone/Disney.
Detail level is strong, and colors are well rendered throughout.
There are touches of noticeable grain in some lower lit shots, but
that’s more attributable to the film stock and the natural lighting used for
effect. Although Jackie didn’t
direct this film, he still choreographed the fights, and no one makes better
action use of widescreen than he…you’ll definitely appreciate the original
5.1 audio is also good, with dynamic range coming from the musical score and the
action sequences, though there is not as much use of the rear stage as you might
expect for an action film. Dialogue
is well rendered throughout. The
only real complaint is the choice of modern rock songs which tend to jolt
viewers out of the period experience. They
were used cleverly in A Knight’s Tale, but here, they’re just
deliberate and failed stabs at ironic counterpoint.
a lot in this department, but a few goodies, starting with “Fight Manual”,
in which an overly generous Jackie and director David Dobkin discuss Jackie’s
ideas for the fight scenes. There
are two decent audio commentaries; one by Dobkin and one by writers Alfred Gough
and Miles Millar. There are some
deleted scenes that were rightfully cut out, and an “Action Overload” piece
of the film’s fight sequences set to music.