Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Retro Review: The Protector (1985) #JackieChan

The Protector (Wai Lung Mang Tam)
1985
Cast: Jackie Chan, Danny Aiello, Moon Lee, Peter Yang, Becky Ann Baker
Genre: Action
Hong Kong Box Office: over $13 million

Plot: Two New York cops Billy Wong and Danny Garoni head to Hong Kong after the daughter of a rich businessman is kidnapped by a drug lord named Mr Ko










'Loathed By Chan, The Protector Isn't Too Bad'


Considered by Jackie Chan as the most least favourite film of his that he has been involved with- though I understand and have no qualms in him feeling this way-, The Protector is actually not too bad with some cool moments and though the cliches with the dead partner and avenging his death are all there, but for some lull scenes, it is not only something different from Chan, but it is also a film that remains watchable. My comments on this film are in reference to the U.S version, as opposed to the Hong Kong version. Had I watched the Hong Kong one, I would have enjoyed it slightly more. 

The film kicks off with some Mad Max cast-offs robbing a van and the looting of it, and yet this is not some- post-apocalyptic world, but rather a type of Jackie Chan effort that is not synonymous with his past and current movie offerings. Later on, the businessman's daughter gets kidnapped and cops, Billy and Danny go out of their way in rescuing her, as well as for Billy to exact vengeance for his partner's death. 

Contrary to his other films, The Protector has a lot of swearing and cursing, as well as nudity. Some of the nudity scenes, but especially the one towards the end it didn't make any sense in having it in the story. Why do the women need to be nude? How does that relate to the plot and in what context is that in? The film doesn't explain that, whatsoever. 

This is not your standard Chan flick with the comical tone and silliness that comes with the humour, but a straight up action flick. He shoots some big guy with a gun and it is bloody. I was also shocked to see Jackie utter the F-word as he plays against type, but hey, this is an action film.

The speedboat chase was not bad but the execution of it wasn't as fluid, enthralling and exhilarating as I'd come to expect. There is a fight in a sauna when they are in Hong Kong (just like in Rush Hour 2) with a naked chick, as well as a scene where he pole- vaults onto another boat. The serious tone it evoked suited this movie and the storyline. The story itself isn't that particularly interesting and the scenes with the villains were vanilla and utterly unadorned. But the last 15 mins were enjoyable and very good, with Jackie beating up the bad guys and going after the main villain. I know that most of the cast looked uncomfortable in their roles, and yet they did what they could with them and some of the action and stunts, whilst they are not the kind you find in a typical Chan flick, are quite good.

Thankfully, The Protector does play to Chan's strengths and director, James Glickenhaus manages to get the most out of him, kung fu fighting-wise, as well as being a film where Chan acts well in, in addition to his level of English, which I will touch upon in the next paragraph. 

The Protector is a huge departure for Jackie Chan and like the Rush Hour films, had I not seen Police Story and his other films prior to Rush Hour but this, then I would have enjoyed it even more so. As his first American/Western outing, his performance is actually rather good - Jackie's grasp of English is very impressive.

This is more of a James Glickenhaus vehicle and though I've heard some negative things about it and Jackie Chan's disdain for the U.S version that I watched, surprisingly, I thought The Protector wasn't too shabby.




 



Final Verdict:

If you take away Jackie Chan, this movie would be nowhere as good, but even with him in it, this is sort of a sub-standard, yet nitty- gritty offering and one that would have better suited either a young Jet Li or Donnie Yen in the lead role, instead. 


Although it is considered as many as one of his weakest affairs, I do like this one more than Rush Hour 1, 2 and 3; as his first American movie, The Protector does do a lot of things that I thought were cool and exciting, slightly more than those films. 


Ultimately, has Jackie Chan done better than this? Yes. Is it watchable though? Yes, it's not too bad. Is it a good thing to see him in a more serious action film? Absolutely. But is this the definitive Jackie Chan movie? Absolutely and obviously not, and not by a long distance. 


The Protector still has nothing on Police Story, but if you go in expecting a typical Jackie vehicle, you'll feel let down because this one is far from it. If, however, you go in expecting an above average action B-style movie, then with The Protector, it's got you covered. 



Overall:



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