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Thursday, 22 November 2018

Retro Review: Jackie Chan's First Strike (1996) #JackieChan

Jackie Chan: First Strike (Ging Chaat Gu Si Sei Zi Gaan Daan Yam Mou)
Cast: Jackie Chan, Jackson Lou, Wu-Chen-chun, Bill Tung, Yuriy Petrov
Genre: Action
Hong Kong Box Office Gross: over $57 million 

Plot: A Hong Kong cop works with Interpol to track down and arrest an illegal weapons dealer, only to find himself a pawn of an organisation posing as Russian intelligence 

'4 Strikes, & It's Out'

After a trio of hits, the Police Story franchise hit a snag and with that, saw its first sign of weakness with the fourth instalment, First Strike, which functions more like a James Bond movie by emulating its feel, and in doing so, it is so far removed it is less of a Jackie Chan flick and more of a throwaway B-Z-movie. This is supposed to be in relation to the previous Police Story films, but sitting through it, I fail to see the connection. 

Kevin acts so differently in Police Story 1 and 2 especially, but here, I didn't sense he was playing that character. 

I don't know why they had to throw in the Police Story title, as it could have easily been given a different one and I felt utterly bored and sensing how less entertaining this was. The only two scenes that got my attention were the ladder and underwater scenes; other than that, nothing else in the movie came close to being deft-defying and anarchic as the final third of Police Story or three-thirds of Police Story 3: Supercop. The rest was just not worth talking about, no jaw-dropping stunts, no surprises that spring out of nowhere and the other issue is that it lacks a strong and compelling bad guy. 

The Protector is the only non-Hong Kong offering of Chan's that I liked, whilst I need to get round to seeing 2017's The Foreigner, whereas with Jackie Chan's First Strike, the Rush Hour sequels, The Tuxedo shows that Chan's western offerings just don't compare to his earlier Hong Kong movies. With First Strike, it was the first sign that Chan was moving away from what had worked so well in the 1980s in order to cater and gear towards mainstream and Western audiences who hadn't seen Chan's films before, or of whom weren't too keen on Drunken Master, the original Police Story, Project A. First Strike is noticeably and distinctly more 'American' or be it Westernised, and this is apparent when it focuses less on the action and fights and more so on the plot. Whenever there isn't a fight scene, it is just unbelievably banal: be it the banal script, banal story, almost nothing characters and an unsatisfying climax. 

There is a pitifully dull plot in the CIA trying to get Kevin to find a Russian woman, whose boyfriend may have ties with a terrorist organisation, who are trying to get their hands on a nuclear warhead. Settings then switch from Russia to Australia, but then all manner of confusing plot twists occur as the flimsy story loses its way. 

The fight scenes have been done before and done better, whereas with here, it has a seen-it-all, done-it-all-before feel to them and there is really no sense of character development, including Kevin himself. Even with the lack of police presence makes the 'Police' part redundant and whilst Chan is still in good form, he isn't aided by a script that lacks polish and badass action scenes and it feels very much a movie with little substance and the drama isn't emotional or believable enough. 

Also to note, the shark tank scene ending was re-edited to make it move faster. 

Final Verdict:

I've seen 4 Police Story films and so far, this one, which is not as fun and memorable, is easily the weakest and most forgettable of the series.


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