Mr. Nice Guy (1998)

I’m a TV Chef, but I’m Asian so I Also Know Kung Fu.

I couldn’t really think of anything I wanted to watch today.  I definitely didn’t want to keep going with the Batman theme because I didn’t want to oversaturate myself, even with something good.  I finally decided that I was in the mood to watch people punch each other in the face.  A martial arts movie would take care of that.  I also felt like it should be something fun, and there’s only one martial artist that I think of when I think of fun martial arts movies.  That’s Jackie Chan.  So I went to my DVD collection to see if anything stuck out for me.  Then I remembered that most of his movies were basically the same movie as far as I was concerned.  So I randomly grabbed Mr. Nice Guy, written by Edward Tang and Ma Fibe, directed by Sammo Hung, and starring Jackie Chan, Richard Norton, Gabrielle Fitzpatrick, Miki Lee, Karen McLymont, Vince Poletto, Barry Otto, Peter Lindsay, Peter Houghton, Rachel Blakely, David No, Sammo Hung, and Emil Chau.

A journalist named Diana (Gabrielle Fitzpatrick) records a drug deal between an Italian mob boss named Giancarlo (Richard Norton) and a street gang known as the Demons.  She also records the deal going sour as Giancarlo shoots the leader of the Demons, and then she records them seeing her and her cameraman.  They run away and split up, and Diana runs into a TV chef named Jackie (Jackie Chan), who is Asian and thusly knows kung fu and helps her escape.  While escaping in Jackie’s car, Diana accidentally switches the tape of the drug deal with one of Jackie’s cooking tapes.  When the mob tracks Diana down, they find that she doesn’t have the tape, so they set their sights on Jackie.  But they seem to have forgotten that he is Asian and knows kung fu, and he will defeat them with his fists!

This is certainly the kind of movie I think of when I think of a Jackie Chan movie.  The story is dumb and ridiculous, the performances are lackluster, but the action is fun.  I wouldn’t call this a good movie, but I’d go so far as to say it’s a fine movie to shut off your brain and just enjoy for what it is.  The story is pretty simple and often goofy and nonsensical.  At its core, it’s just about a drug cartel hunting a TV chef, and I’m sure we’ve all seen that story before.  Then they add a couple more ridiculous and improbable things, such as a random biker wedding that Jackie runs through at some point when trying to escape Giancarlo’s men.  But they were in Australia, and I’m sure that kind of thing goes on roughly every day down there.  They certainly have the worst excuse for cops down there, as shown in the scene where Jackie is trying to make a swap with the gang for his girlfriend.  They follow immediately behind him despite his protests, wear obvious earpieces to keep in communication, and even bulletproof vests.  If that doesn’t spell “inconspicuous”, then I don’t know what does.  They also do something that I’ve taken issue with in movies before.  I’ve seen it so many times in movies where someone is watching a tape that is supposedly filmed from one camera and one vantage point, but when they play it back on the TV it’s clearly just the footage from the movie, able to make the close ups and camera angles it needs to.  You’d think they’d be able to see the cameraman sooner with him holding the camera an inch from their face.  The biggest thing that gets to me about the story of so many Jackie Chan movies that I’ve seen is that he quite often plays a character named Jackie.  What’s the story behind that, I wonder.  Can he not remember the name of a character he’s supposed to be portraying, or are the writers just lazy?  Either way, two people in this movie share their names with their character, and it perplexes me.  But the story of this movie is really not meant to impress as best I can tell.  It’s more played for comedy and action.  The comedy rarely sinks in as all that funny to me.  Obviously you’ll have a lot of slapstick and comedy coming up in the fight scenes because that’s how Jackie rolls.  They also got some mileage out of Miki not being able to speak English, but usually having just enough knowledge of the language to understand a few words heard out of context so that she can think Jackie is cheating on her, or that Lakeisha is saying she has small boobs.  A part in the movie I did actually think was funny was Sammo Hung’s whole scene.  He just had a brief part in the movie as a cyclist, and the comedy in the scene was mostly slapstick, but the things he said around it got a chuckle out of me.  I would say I took issues with the ending of the movie as well because not a whole lot really happened.  I would say it was poorly written, but great in the spectacle and action.  Let’s just say it brought the roof down.

That seems like a good opportunity to switch into talking about the action in the movie a little bit.  I am known as the King of the Segway, after all.  There’s a good enough amount of action, but I probably would’ve appreciated a little more fighting and less chase scenes for my action buck.  But, as always, Jackie Chan will find some interesting new things to do.  There was a whole fight scene that took place in a building that was under construction, making the building just a series of concrete walls and improbably placed doors and turning the fight into a Scooby Doo style chase.  There’s also a part where Jackie has his arms and legs tied, and the ropes are being held by Giancarlo’s goons so that Jackie could almost fight and defend himself against Giancarlo, but his hands and feet would never connect.  This was definitely an interesting idea, but probably more complicated than a mob boss who owns a gun would ever set up.  There was also an action scene that took place on and around a giant construction … thing.  It was like a truck or a bulldozer, but didn’t really have a scoop or anything.  I don’t know what it was.  It was enormous and Jackie had to lay down in front of its wheels (that were roughly twice as tall as him) and climb up the wheels to get to the cab while it was still moving.

The performances were all kind of goofy in this movie.  For some reason, even though I think the greater majority of the cast spoke English, they really go over the top with their mouth movements to say each word, as if they had no idea what was coming out of their mouth and were just made to say it phonetically.  Jackie Chan did his part in the movie.  You could find a few occasions when he didn’t say his lines right because he probably had little idea what he was saying, but he does his action very well.  I think I talked about this the last time I reviewed a Jackie Chan movie, but he really seems to love the gag of accidentally grabbing a handful of some actresses boob, and he does that same gag here with Gabrielle Fitzpatrick.  She didn’t have to stretch any acting chops in this movie, but she did run around in her underwear for a bit, and that was alright by me.  I felt like I knew her the entire time I was watching her, but it wasn’t until I got on Rotten Tomatoes that I realized I’ve reviewed a movie she was in before.  She was a minor role in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie!  So that’s a thing.  Richard Norton was occasionally close to being intimidating as Giancarlo, but he completely lost me at one point.  There’s a part in the movie where he is threatening one of his goons and punctuating each word by taking the goon’s tie and slapping him in the neck with it, but he apparently didn’t know how goofy and limp-wristed the movement would make him look until the movie was released.

Mr. Nice Guy was decent enough.  The story was ridiculous and goofy, the performances were all pretty bad, but the action was mostly a lot of fun.  I just think they should’ve focused a little more heavily on Jackie Chan’s fighting skills and not as much on his comedic stunt work.  Either way, it worked out okay and ended up being roughly what I expected it to be.  A fun watch if you like martial arts movies and Jackie Chan, otherwise there’s not a whole lot of reason to watch it.  Mr. Nice Guy gets “Whose dialogue is it?” out of “That’s it.  No More Mr. Nice Guy.”

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Supercop (1992)

Uncle Bill, Say Something Cheeful, Will You?

I was starting to get the feeling that today was a depressing and irritating day, so I decided I wanted to try to watch something that seemed like it might be fun and just hope that I would be able to fake some comedy for a review for the day.  I looked everywhere for a movie that had that feeling to it.  I tried my Netflix instant queue, I tried my recommendations, I tried the movies Netflix sent me, and I considered my own DVD collection.  But none of these felt like they had anything of interest that had a chance to lighten my mood.  Then I saw a movie that was an action comedy movie that starred one of my favorite martial arts actors and it just felt right.  I’ve seen a great many of this actor’s movies, but I had not seen this one.  I had to roll the dice on it because I couldn’t think of anything else that I would trust.  And so I review Police Story 3: Supercop, written by Edward Tang, Ma Fibe, and Yee Lee Wai, directed by Stanley Tong, and starring Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh, Kenneth Tsang, Yuen Wah, Josephine Koo, Maggie Cheung, and Bill Tung.

Kevin Chan (Jackie Chan) is sent to Shanghai on assignment to go undercover and bust a drug lord named Chaibat (Kenneth Tsang).  He meets his Interpol contact, Jessica Yang (Michelle Yeoh), and is briefed on his mission to first aid in the escape of a criminal named Panther (Yuen Wah) to gain his trust and use him to get in to Chaibat’s gang.  He succeeds in the first part, helping Panther escape, but on the way to Hong Kong, the group passes through the town Kevin claims is his hometown, but is saved from revealing himself by not knowing his surroundings by Interpol having set up people in the town to act like they know him.  They go to Kevin’s supposed house and meet his supposed sister, Hana, who is actually Jessica.  Later, when the police recognize Panther and try to arrest him, Panther is saved by Hana and Kevin, and Hana pretends that she killed a police officer so that Panther would take her along as well.  This gets them officially into Chaibat’s gang, but it also gets them in over their heads.

The combination of this movie and the beers I was drinking as I watched it have greatly improved my mood, so much so that I just mistyped “improved” a record of four times.  This review is going to be fun, much like today’s movie.  The story was basic and unimpressive – as one could say is fairly typical of a martial arts movie – but the action was fun.  The premise of the movie is so common that I’m pretty sure I’ve already reviewed a Donnie Yen movie with the same premise.  Cop infiltrates bad guys.  Done and done.  Also typical with such movies, he’ll get found out eventually.  And, also typically, that will probably lead to bad times and a hostage situation with one of his loved ones.  They attempt to separate themselves from the other 78% of all movies with this premise by making their movie a martial arts/action/comedy instead of an action/drama, or straight action movie, as they would typically be.  We’ll get to the martial arts and the action, but the comedy did not do well with me.  It wasn’t painful to watch, but they take the easy way out to attempt comedy and make most of it slapstick, which really hasn’t worked too well for me since I was 8 or so.  It wasn’t bad, but it only ever really mustered amusement.  I’m also getting the feeling that Jackie Chan may either be a pervert or just sex-starved since most of his movies that I can think of right now involve some form of him accidentally grabbing some girl’s boobs.  Whether he’s trying to stop her from leaving or stop her from falling, he will find a way to grab a handful of boob, and usually will drop the girl when he realizes what he’s done.  But I had no real big gripes about the story here beyond one thing: the boat they escaped the cops with.  It had like 8 engines!  Does more engines necessarily mean more fastness?

This is a Jackie Chan movie, so I would say it can be implied that the action in the movie is going to be exciting and fun.  And Jackie is probably going to do his own stunts, ‘cause that’s what he does.  I was slightly disappointed that Jackie didn’t do that much fighting in this movie – probably because he had to give Michelle Yeoh her screen time as well – but when he did it, it was still very enjoyable.  A lot of the other stunts were also very exciting.  The top of the excitement for me was, of course, at the climax of the movie.  It just keeps amping up.  It starts with Jackie running away from a truck with no brakes, to a fight on the rooftops, to him jumping from a building to the ladder hanging from a helicopter, to riding that ladder through billboards, to them landing the helicopter on the back of a moving train, and then fighting around the spinning blades of a helicopter on top of a moving train.

None of the actors really required that they do much by way of performance.  The physical stuff was the most taxing for them, I would say.  Jackie Chan was fun throughout the movie and great with the action.  Michelle Yeoh also did a very good job with the action, but played it more serious as Jackie’s straight man of sorts.  She did some great things in the movie, but for me the greatest thing she did was vag kick a lady she was fighting.  Maggie Cheung got on my nerves a little bit as Jackie’s character’s girlfriend, but not from something she specifically did.  It was more how she was written.  When Jackie is undercover and runs into her, she won’t accept the fact that he’s undercover for a long time, even though she knows he’s a cop and was leaving on assignment.  Once she finally figures it out, she completely blows it minutes later by discussing the secret operation her boyfriend is on, loudly and surrounded by strangers, in the elevator of the building where he’s on his assignment.  Good work, bitch.

When I go into 90% of Jackie Chan movies, I expect the story to be pretty basic, but I expect the movie to be exciting and fun, and that’s what I found in Supercop.  It’s a story that offers no surprises and the comedy is usually just slapstick, but the action and fighting in the movie is pretty great and lots of fun.  I liked it.  You can stream the movie on Netflix if you want to watch something as a fun lark.  Supercop gets “You are a super cop” out of “Super cops are a dime a dozen in Hong Kong.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.