Tag Archives: Jackie Chan

Cinema-Maniac: Chinese Zodiac (2013) Review

Chinese Zodiac follows JC search for the twelve bronze heads of the animals from the Chinese Zodiac. Aside from the protagonist name being JC (probably Jackie Chan does this kind of activity in his spare time) the story will not register a pulse. Literally the first action scene written into the film is just for the sake of it. What occurred in that action scene involving JC as a human rollerblade is never mentioned again. Speaking of which, it does attempt to developed it cast of characters albeit clumsily. At random characters will reveal bits of themselve when talking to each other during an operation which gets interrupted by contrivances or convenience. Development feels force as every plot device it uses to move forward makes it difficult to care when nothing is earned and resolved by luck. The dialogue ranges from steal this artifact, I hate your ancestors for stealing from us, we’re procrastinating doing anything evil to you for a comedic routine variety. All the while JC reiterates at several points during the movie the “great injustice and disrespect” the Western countries have shown to the Chinese in the past. This message is heavy-handed because of how often it’s brought up. One could look past the only Western representation is a stereotypical dumb blonde, but to solely act as if only one nation wronged China people does not help with it message of great injustice. I don’t know much about China history, but, um, remember Unit 731 screenwriters? I do and in case you do that’s because no one beats it over your head with how wrong it was.

For two acts the film goes for a lighthearted and comedic tone until the final arc which gears the tone to be more serious. Characters we follow that had no problem stealing rare artifacts for money developed a contrive code of honor towards the end. Yeah, because the same guy who has no problem stealing artifacts from the rich should really send the message that stealing is wrong. Chinese Zodiac takes a couple narrative inspiration from “Mission Impossible” globe trotting with some implausible gadgets (like the replica printer), the “Ocean’s Trilogy” team dynamics, and inability to balance action and comedy like “Once A Thief”. Failing to make the most of it settings to make it feel like a grand scale adventure, a bland team whose planning process before an operation is never seen, and succeeding in being unable to balance a tone. Writing is all over the place attempting to be many things failing to be a single good thing. As for which version you see really doesn’t matter. In the first cut I’ve seen that was fourteen minute shorter had rush pacing putting emphasizes on comedy with very little breathing to naturally develop the story. All the problems in the Chinese cut of the film are made more apparent, though it ends quicker.

Jackie Chan is the center of attention rendering the whole team dynamic a bit redundant. Chan carries the movie on his weight being the enjoyable goofball for two acts and going for serious in the final act. This role doesn’t challenge Chan to balance the comedy and drama like he master in previous films, but does a good job none the less. Supporting cast is decent, though mostly forgettable as comic reliefs to prolong one particular comedic action piece on an ancient ship. Action wise two of the film biggest set pieces are underwhelming at best. On paper Chan as a human rollerblade sounds exciting, but not so much in execution as in the way it was shot makes as if it was performed slowly. Another is a long set piece on ancient ship that is in favor to show comedic antics than actual fighting. Lasting allot longer than it needed too with added slapstick. The only worthwhile action sequences appear in the final forty minutes of the film. Allowing Chan use his environment against his opponent and fight against fighters that actually hit him. These fight scenes are reminiscent of Chan golden days since they stripped Chan of all his contraptions and unnecessary embellishment. Improvising with what’s ever around him with fast choreography combined with unique ways to take down his opponents. If these were the film final action sequences it would have ended on a high note in the action department. Sadly, there’s one in the uneventful climax involving four skydivers, and a volcano. On paper doesn’t that sound awesome, but in execution poor CG, slowly performed action, and no decent setup dooms it.

Chinese Zodiac comes across as a knock off of a good Jackie Chan film that just so happen to have the actual star in it. It’s story is uninteresting simply tossing an action sequence for the sake of it and sprinkling muddle characterization with little breathing room until the next plot devices rears itself in. On the action side the first half of the film is unimpressive or get interrupted by an overlong slapstick comedy routine. It has three good fight scenes two of which that serves to remind viewers of Chan’s skill as a fighter, but the climax leaves plenty to be desired. On a technical level there’s nothing much wrong with the film with the exception of few instances of bad CG. When there’s only three scene in a two hours movie that highlight it star true talent it’s stop being merely a bad movie and more a disappointment for fans.

4/10

Cinema-Maniac: Police Story: Lockdown (2015) Movie Review

The “Police Story” franchise hasn’t always been consistent with it star playing different protagonists and the tone of the series changing, but each installment has parallel star Jackie Chan goal as an actor. Making it hard to believe a film series that’s known for stunt work becomes obsolete with a focus on drama in this installment. It’s a departure for the “Police Story” series and Jackie Chan as an actor as he puts forth into going into a new direction. “Police Story 2013” is not the series entry fans would expect, but demonstrates Chan experimentation as an actor isn’t afraid to take risks.

Police Story 2013 is about a criminal looking for the release of a long-time prisoner taking a police officer, his daughter, and a group of strangers hostage. The plot is “Die Hard”-esque taking place entirely in one location and just like its last two predecessor this entry follows a different character. Unfortunately what it doesn’t borrow from “Die Hard” is intelligence. The main character, Zhong Wen, will usually attempt to imagine what will happen in a given scenario. This plot device comes with mixed results showing Zhong Wen is looking at all the possibilities, but in context it also means if something exciting happens it holds no bearing on the plot. That also applies to Zhong Wen flashbacks when he’s figuring out who the villain is and his motivation for holding certain people hostage. Just like Wen’s imagination the flashbacks come with mixed results as most of the action scenes are in flashbacks usually with no relevance to the main plot. Although the major gripe towards this film has be the severe lack of henchmen. Now the film setting is a old factory turned nightclub which from what we seen is huge. Our villain of the film appeared to have only brought four henchmen working for him to secured the area, keep an eye on the hostages, look for Zhong Wen, make bombs, and other activity is understaffed. Of course in any action movie we expect the hero will overcome the odds a role that is reverse in this. It doesn’t work because the few henchman know only to do one thing leaving the audience to wait for the inevitable to occur.

On a positive note Zhong Wen is well developed as a flawed hero with his actions resulting in some sort of casualty on himself. Going up against a villain who’s not only just as calculating, but pushes him morally drawing the line between being a good father and being a good officer. The film villain, Wu Jiang, is an entirely different story. Wu Jiang motivation somewhat parallels Wen as a character as both lost someone important to them effecting them drastically. Both characters are very human, but the villain scheme is out of place. It’s requires you to disbelief reality once his plan get started. Only occurring and working as well as it did through sheer luck and coincidence. Supporting characters while not as defined do play a role in the plot once the mystery becomes clearer. Fitting it’s main motif of spider webs seeing how seemingly unrelated events are connected. Doing just enough in it limited setting to keep things interesting even if it doesn’t reach the emotional height it aimed for.

Jackie Chan plays a more grounded, vulnerable, and flawed hero. The role demands Chan to carry the film solely on his acting. Relying little on humor Chan is serious all the way through. Coming off as man who’s out of his own league burdened by his troubled personal life. Getting across his job has taken a serious told on Chan as throughout the film Chan is always suspicious of other people. Keeping his emotions restricted from doing his job even when interacting to others. His trust on characters will determine how he comes across towards other. Anyone going into this solely to see Jackie Chan in action mode will be disappointed. What little fight scenes there are don’t last long. This is a role that demands Chan the actor to take center stage over acrobatics and martial artist Chan. For a man whose 59 he’s still fast in his fights and while his dangerous stunts are absent Chan himself isn’t. Yu Liu who plays Wu Jiang stays one note hardly changing his facial expressions. His line delivery on the other hand are more varied in invoking emotions. Tian Jing whatever screen time she has performs well having solid chemistry with Chan. Director Sheng Ding did a fine job as a director, but as an editor is sloppy when it comes to the action. What little action there is rapidly cut, shaking, and distorted making action scenes a series of jigsaw pieces that don’t fit.

Police Story 2013 is a huge departure both for the series and star Jackie Chan focusing heavily on drama and spending little on action. Chan demonstrates strength in his acting abilities widening his range as an actor than just being a man of action. It’s a film that will differentiate the true Chan fans that like the actor for his risks over the non fans who just want action film escapism. Anyone expecting the typical “Police Story” or Jackie Chan film will leave disappointed, but anyone interesting in seeing the series and star experiment will find a decent movie.

7/10

Cinema-Maniac: Shanghai Knights (2003) Review

Wow, what a shocker, I didn’t expect Shanghai Knights to be as good as the original. Though while it may not be well put together as the first, I stilled had some laughs and fun.

When a Chinese rebel murders Chon’s (Jackie Chan) estranged father and escapes to England, Chon and Roy (Owen Wilson) make their way to London with revenge on their minds. I got the idea that the sequel could have been better, different location, more characters, and Donnie Yen. Unfortunately what we get is to much ideas in a movie that don’t work well together. At points some scene feel out of place or to long. Story wise, the original does a better job with a good pace that not to crazy.

What the sequel does improve on is the action. My personal favorite being Jackie Chan against Donnie Yen, though short, it’s rewarding to see these two legends in the same movie together for Martial Art fans. Though the most spectacular action sequence has to be the fencing match in the clock tower, a reference to what Chan did in his classic film Project A.

Like the original, it has references to famous icons. Like Charlie Chaplin as a kid being portrayed as a crook or Detective Arthur Doyle who wrote the Sherlock Holmes novels being an actual detective in this movie. I found the reference to Jack the Ripper to be the best, probably because I hate famous killers that got away.

So this is a rare case in which both films in the franchise are equal. If you want a good pace story with good humor, Shanghai Noon is the way to go. If you wanting good humor and action, Shanghai Knights the way to go. Though I don’t think you can go wrong whichever you choose to watch.

7/10

Cinema-Maniac: Shanghai Noon (2000) Review

Shanghai Noon brings us the pairing of Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson together in a movie. This could’ve have gone bad in my opinion, but what we get is a hilarious and enjoyable Western.

Jackie Chan plays a Chinese man who travels to the Wild West to rescue a kidnapped princess. After teaming up with a train robber (Owen Wilson), the unlikely duo takes on a Chinese traitor and his corrupt boss. The story was well crafted, I found myself laughing and getting more interested as the story progress. Both Chan and Wilson work well on screen and makes the movie that much more fun to watch with a good pace script.

The issue I have in this movie is the action, while it delivers the humor. It fails in the action department, while it’s still entertaining to watch, it’s nothing special. Though the cinematography is spot on in every scene and every actor does there job.

I enjoyed this movie, while it may seem weird to pair a China man and a cowboy in a movie, Wilson and Chan pull it off and brings you one hilarious and enjoyable movie.

7/10

Cinema-Maniac: Shaolin (2011) Review

I hesitated considering to watch this seeing the Tomatometer of the users rating. After watching this, I knew I was watching one of the most under-rated movie to ever be reviewed by critics and users.

The problem with most of these user reviews is that they excepted ton of action and were disappointed for some reason. It’s like watching Red Cliff and Bodyguards and Assassins, I expected allot of action, but it didn’t make them bad movies. While you may disappointed in the lack of action, like other users, the action sequences it does have are terrific in many ways and won’t disappoint.

Another complain I want to address is that people thought the movie was predictable, when I watched it didn’t feel predictable. I actually thought the characters were well written and the actors fit well into their role. The story on the other hand was superb in my opinion, I just couldn’t believe how this movie blew my mind away. I think most of these negatives came from people who missed the great spiritual dialogue coming from the Buddhists and the spiritual message of the movie.

In my opinion, it’s great movie with a good story line and though lacking in great martial art sequences to some, the action in this won’t disappoint. So, don’t let the score fool you, pick up this movie, and hopefully you have same experience as I did when I watched it.

10/10

Cinema-Maniac: Jackie Chan’s Project A (‘A’ gai wak) (1983) Review

Jackie Chan is no doubt the king of action/comedy movies and Project A is a perfect example of the action/comedy genre.

It’s a Jackie Chan movie, so the plot is simple and easy to follow and develops over time. Simply put it Hong Kong troublesome Navy is going up against pirates. The story gets better as the movie progress with a good blend of drama, action, and classic Jackie Chan movie humor in it.

As you can except from any good Jackie Chan movie, the martial arts are well choreographed and fun to watch. It has enough martial art sequences to keep any viewer interest. Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung make a great team in this movie and it’s just magic when they work together.

Project A is a fun action/comedy movie that delivers the action, the drama, and the comedy in a well paced and entertaining movie.

9/10

Cinema-Maniac: Crime Story (Zhong an zu) (1993) Review

Jackie Chan is no doubt an icon of his own and is know for his good sense of humor. In Crime Story, Jackie Chan gives us his best dramatic performance ever in a unrecognized classic.

In Crime Story, Chan plays a special agent assigned to protect a wealthy business magnate, but when the businessman is kidnapped in a daring ambush, Chan teams up with a seasoned detective to crack the case…even though he suspects the detective is the crime’s true mastermind! Obviously this make one interesting story as I kept finding myself more and more invested into the movie as the plot developed. Though I think people will be disappointed for the lack of martial arts and a lack of Jackie Chan signature humor in this movie.

I have to say, for the few action sequences it has they sure were memorable. There a car chase, explosion, and Jackie Chan gun fight in building that’s burning shouldn’t disappoint Jackie Chan fans and action fans. Now since this is based around a true crime, I respect the way the film crew handle this story and did a good job of it. While I may not know exactly what happened, it respects the material is base on.

9/10