Thursday, July 4, 2013

Day One Hundred and Eighty-five - Project A, "Not your typical Jackie Chan choreography, but s'alright."

While not as rough as a lot of Jackie Chan's early films (see Cub Tiger from Kwang Tung as an example), he definitely wasn't in the same groove that we came to expect from his late 80's/early 90's films like Police Story, Supercop, and Legend of the Drunken Master.

It's kind of a tradition for Jackie Chan films to have the weakest of plots and that's no different here. Playing a headstrong sergeant-major named Dragon in the Hong Kong Navy at the turn of the 20th century, Jackie is the lead in a series of skirmishes with the pirates harassing the seas, the gangsters on land, and the corrupt officials bogging everything down.

Storywise, Project A is an unmitigated disaster of loose threads and random characters. There are love interests that drop in and out, villains that do the same, and corrupt officials that never get their just desserts. It's totally off-putting the way the focus shifts from the well-dressed, Chicago-style gangster and his group of goons to this really rancid pirate crew that comes out of nowhere for the third act.

Then there's the title, which shows up in the actual plot for all of five seconds as a plan the good natured (but bumbling) admiral wants to put into effect but can't because the British governor rejects it and it's never heard from again... unless you make the extreme leap that the climax pirate base infiltration is the same plan.

Who knows, really?

But, to be honest, no one EVER comes to Jackie Chan films for the story. All we really care about are the fight scenes and there are quite a few... they just never reach the levels of awesomeness that Jackie would develop later in his career.

Be it the club fight, the clock tower scene, or the pirate base, the fights do satisfy the typical amount of chaos that Jackie's choreographers often employ for large set pieces, but the one-on-one fights (or "all on Jackie" ones) are rather bland. I do like the implementation of the clockworks into one of the scenes, but that's about it.

One thing of note, most Jackie Chan films have him taking on a half dozen or more and, even though he often takes a beating, he gives as much as he gets. In Project A there's a trope reversal where everyone gangs up on the villain who could probably beat them all in single combat. This oddly works for me.

I can't say that Project A ranks anywhere high on my list of favorite kung fu movies, but it's mildly entertaining for its semi-decent fight scenes. Definitely could've been better, but I've seen worse.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~ (and Happy 4th of July!)

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