Apr 30, 2014

Review: Ging chaat goo si 4: Ji gaan daan yam mo [Jackie Chan's First Strike] (1996)

The fourth entry in the Police Story series of films involves Chan Ka-Kui allying himself with first the CIA and then the Russian FSB (Federal Security Agency) to chase down a nuclear arms dealer. Like Supercop before it, Jackie Chan's First Strike takes Ka-Kui away from Hong Kong for places like Russia and Australia. Stanley Tong returns to direct and the only other recurring character to make a return is Bill Wong as Ka-Kui's boss. So no more May which makes me kind of sad.

I watched the New Line Cinema version and it's pretty obvious that cuts were made here and there. Well not here and there, incessantly is more like it. It's like New Line took a rusty machete and hacked at the original movie as violently as they could. The Mai Ah Entertainment VCD and Japanese Warner Home Video versions apparently contain the full movie, but these copies aren't easy to get a hold of where I am.


Genre: action, adventure, comedy
Directed by: Stanley Tong
Produced by: Barbie Tung, Leonard Ho, Pavel Douvidzon, etc.
Written by: Greg Mellott, Elliot Tong, Stanley Tong, etc.
Music by: J. Peter Robinson, Nathan Wang
Running time: 110 minutes
Production company: Golden Harvest Company, Paragon Films Ltd., Raymond Chow
Distributed by: Golden Harvest Company, New Line Cinema, Entertainment Film Distributors, etc.
Country: Hong Kong
Language: English, Cantonese, Mandarin, etc.
Budget: N/A
Box office: $21,890,845 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Jackie Chan, Jackson Liu, Annie Wu, Bill Tung, Yuriy Petrov, Nonna Grishaeva, John Eaves, Terry Woo, Kristopher Kazmarek, Ailen Sit, Man-Ching Chan, Rocky Lai, Chan Wai To



Jackie Chan's character Chan Ka-Kui actually isn't even called that in this movie. He's Jackie which is just weird. For sure this is New Line's doing for this dub in an attempt to make this movie more digestible for North American viewers. So it's like Jackie Chan is playing himself. That's funny right?

The title itself is also a way to move away from the Police Story roots and as a result can be watched without having seen the prior ones. I suppose that's a good thing because Jackie Chan's First Strike just isn't a very strong movie and I'd rather it didn't have anything to do with Police Story.

The story itself doesn't really need to be expanded on because it's pretty easy to follow. All the characters are pretty much cardboard cutouts, but I guess that's not especially important in an action movie such as this.

What's lacking in Jackie Chan's First Strike is a real sense of fun. There's nothing worthwhile going on for the first three quarters of the film which isn't a good thing for a Jackie Chan movie. Jackie is naturally a funny guy, but none any of the situations he finds himself in allow him to deliver that. Jackie Chan has a few quips but sadly they all fall flat to be honest. The humour in Jackie Chan's First Strike just doesn't work well at all and the editing cuts mess up the continuity and flow.

There are of course some great stunts, but nothing as glorious as the ones in past Police Story films. If this is the movie that North Americans are meant to see that's a real shame because Police Story and Police Story 2 have some of the best stunts ever done on camera. So much so that every martial arts/action fan has a duty to see those movies.

I don't want to totally take away from what was done in Jackie Chan's First Strike though. Jackie Chan treats us to a downhill chase on a snowboard which is difficult in my very limited experience of "trying" to lean how to snowboard and there are some great fight scenes of course towards the end. There's also a really silly underwater fight scene though that stretches my suspension of disbelief just a tad too much.

Definitely my biggest problem with Jackie Chan's First Strike is the editing, if it can be called that. I'm not totally convinced though that a non-New Line copy would make this film anywhere as good as past PS movies. The ending scene is incredibly abrupt, but I was glad to see the return of the song from Police Story and Police Story 2 that plays during the ending credits.

This is the first movie in the Police Story series that doesn't have much to offer in terms of entertainment. There are some stunts that are very impressive and can be easy to take for granted, but they don't make up for the subpar movie taking place around them. New Line's catering towards North American tastes feels like a hack job that ruins what was probably already a disappointing movie to begin with. Everything feels dumbed down and as a result Jackie Chan's First Strike can't hold a candle to its predecessors.



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