Hello faithful readers! Welcome back to this short small semi-comprehensive informative review of one of the greatest stuntman martial artists today and of all time, Jackie Chan! With the release of his new film Dragon Blade, I thought it would be great to write this knowing how much Chan influenced me growing up.
If you read the previous article you know that we have so far only scratched the surface of the best of Jackie. We started with Winners & Sinners in 1983, the birth of the Three Dragons with Project A, and finished with the first fight between Jackie and Benny the Jet in Wheels on Meals. I kept things short and simple to give you reader and viewers a chance to soak it up before the onslaught.
So without further delay, let's jump kick right in! Ki-Ya!
My Lucky Stars (1985)
The year is 1985 and after the success of Wheels on Meals (1984) Jackie teams up with Sammo again and they bring in Yuen Biao for small cameo in My Lucky Stars (1985).
Something of a sequel to Winners & Sinners (1984) it was more a comedic love story than action film but once the action does show up, it is some of Chan and Hung's best.
My Lucky Stars is one of my favorite Jackie Chan/ Sammo Hung/Yuen Biao films. There isn't much action in the beginning but it has a slapstick comedic flair to it that makes it lovable. The action doesn't get going for a bit, but a seasoned stunt team and a Chan in his prime make it worth the wait.
The other thing that makes My Lucky Stars stand out is the introduction of the tough female sidekick, in this film played by Sibelle Hu, a Taiwanese singer and actress who performed many of her own stunts* (*see Devil Hunters 1989).
Though anticlimactic with the Sammo Hung knockout, her fight scene against former bodybuilder stunt woman Nishiwaki Michiko is still quite memorable, especially among Hong Kong action enthusiasts.
For action fans, MLS is all about the end. Lots of clean fast paced action and choreography. Jackie Chan's final fight also puts him up against Dick Wei for a rematch since their end battle in Project A. The fight puts Wei further on the map as one of Jackie & Sammo's top stuntmen.
The Protector (1985)
Jackie Chain would eventually get a call from Hollywood again and star in James Glickenhaus's The Protector. Unfortunately the film would receive the "80's Hollywood treatment" which was radically different from not only what Hong Kong was producing at the time but also the comedic tone Chan was used to.
In the US, Chan was directed to be more like Dirty Harry, which is understandable considering that is what was popular in the US at the time. But the director didn't understand Chan and the two would have many conflicts on set and the film would suffer.
You can tell even from the final fight that Chan has to hold back plenty against a stunt men would cannot keep up.
There are a few great stunts because Jackie went back a re-edited and re-shot many scenes, but the film over all is a flop. It is by no mean one of Jackie's best but it is being mentioned because it did two things for Chan. It would influence him to bring a harder tone to his later films and it produced one of the greatest quotes ever that being from Director James Glickenhaus who said American audiences would never be able to sit through Jackie Chan's style of film.
Twinkle Twinkly Lucky Stars (1985)
Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars brought back the cast from the previous two Sammo Hung directed films as well as many others introduced many to Michelle Yeoh . It also brought back the slap stick comedy Sammo and Jackie are known for.
The movie for the most part isn't particularly good but the action fight at the end is pretty fast and furious.
Chan is fantastic who is right at home against Dick Wei again.
But in my opinion it's Yuen Biao who steals the show. His kick skills and acrobatics are on full display. It is well known that Biao would stand in for Jackie on occasion during his work with Chan & Hung.
Heart of Dragon (1985)
Sammo Hung directs Chan again in this out of character film where Hung wanted to stretch his acting chops as a mentally disabled character and Chan playing as his protective brother. Like the previous Hung films they would have a climactic fight pitting Chan against Dick Wei.
Unfortunately the film suffer's from the decision not necessarily to blend drama with action but really more the type of drama. It's as if Whats Eating Glibert Grape had Johnny Depp fighting bad guys, and more so it's as if Sammo never got the "Tropic Thunder" memo...
Heart of Dragon would be nominated for Best Action Choreography award at the Hong Kong Film Awards in 1986 but lose to Jackie's next film...
Police Story (1985)
By far Jackie Chan's finest work. This would not only be a his blueprint of his future success but also set the standard for 80's Hong Kong action. He would perform some of his most death defying stunts and sequences to date. It would also be the culmination of all the films he's worked on in the past few years. He touches the right amount of drama with the right amount of comedy and within a tone they can all work harmoniously.
Right from the start the film opens with an incredible action and stunt sequence that Jackie to this day would admit that is his favorite. Like Project A, Chan channels his influences of Buster Keaton and Harold Llyod with his bus stunts.
Police Story is also known for some of Jackie biggest stunt mishaps. There was the time that the bus stopped early launching the unready stunt team out the front window. Like a pro Jackie keeps acting to the sounds of the groans.
Or that time he Jump kicks a stunt man into a car and he smashes his head against it.
The film has a ton of great sequences. Its most notable the action scene at the Mall in the end.
The whirlwind of flying fists, reckless abandonment and big stunts formula would be perfected with the Police Story series and not only mark Jackie as one of the greatest martial artists and stunt men of all time, but also as a solid director, writer and actor.
All the insane stunts earned Police Story the nickname "Glass Story" because of all the stunts that required using sugar glass.
Police Story has so many huge stunts to keep the most hardened action enthusiast enthralled. One in particular was Chan's biggest since his clock tower fall in Project A. Chan jumps onto a pole from over 5 stories and slides down through Christmas lights through a layer of glass and landing onto a structure.
What's crazy is that the team was pressured to film the stunt quickly because the mall needed to have time to clean up before they opened for shopping and a failure in communication caused a technical mishap on the set. Instead of hooking up the lights to a car battery as you're supposed to do for a stunt like this, the electrician hooked up the lights to the malls house current. Jackie slid down while being electrocuted. His hands would suffer severe burns and he was still able to run off instantly after hitting the ground to finish the cut.
Police Story was the film The Protector should've and could've been if Chan had been given more control. It would be a box office smash in Asia but it would still be years before Chan really makes his mark in the States. Regardless Chan had the blueprint and would explode as a worldwide phenomenon and some of his biggest stunts are still to come. Join me next week for the continuation to this Jackie Chan retrospect Where we cover his career between the end of the 1980's and the start of the 1990's!