AKA Cyclone Z, Action Hunter
Starring Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Deanie Ip, Pauline Yeung Bo-Ling, Yuen Wah, Roy Chiao, Crystal Kwok Gam-Yan, Benny Urquidez, Billy Chow Bei-Lei, Lee Ka-Ting, Phillip Ko Fei, James Tin Jun, Tai Bo
Directed by Sammo Hung
Expectations: High. Can’t wait to see the Jackie/Benny the Jet re-match again, and find out about all the stuff I completely forgot about.
Dragons Forever is the final film to feature the Three Brothers (Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung & Yuen Biao), and in many ways it feels very knowledgeable of this. It often pits the brothers against each other (to wonderful results), perhaps bringing on-screen the off-screen tension due to creative disputes. It sees the return of the Wheels on Meals heavy, champion kickboxer extraordinaire Benny “The Jet” Urquidez, for a re-match. Its title has nothing to do with the movie, instead referencing the brothers themselves and their enduring friendship. Dragons Forever is a victory lap for the fans, sending off the brothers’ film collaborations at the height of their careers. As a fan you can’t argue that they didn’t deliver enough after so many movies throughout the ’80s, and since they were all capable of headlining their own films at this point in their careers, the idea of “One more Three Brothers film!” is a wonderful way to say goodbye to a very fruitful relationship. Would I like them to get back together and do another? Yeah, I wouldn’t mind that in the slightest, but there is something to be said for exiting the game at the top.
Jackie Chan plays Jackie, a sleazeball defense lawyer who handles cases for despicable criminals and womanizes every chance he gets. Sammo is something of a con-man. We first meet him selling weapons out of a duffel bag, but soon Jackie directs him to set his sights on the owner of a fishery (Deannie Yip). Jackie’s client owns a chemical factory that is polluting the fishery’s water, and he’s hoping to discredit her in any way he can to win the case. Yuen Biao is Jackie’s crazy friend, who he employs to place a bug in Miss Yip’s apartment, again to gather information to help build his case. Against type and tradition, the three brothers are all on the wrong side of this tale, so initially you can’t really root for them like you normally would.
The story is definitely lacking a bit, but the action exceeds expectations. It is always spectacular, and is arguably the best overall work the brothers ever did together. I definitely prefer the Wheels on Meals Jackie/Benny the Jet fight, but the combo of stunts and sustained, bone-crunching action in the finale of Dragons Forever is built to showcase the abilities of just about everyone in the Sammo and Jackie stunt teams, Yueh Wah, Benny the Jet and, of course, all three brothers. It’s truly captivating. The experience of watching Dragons Forever is a joyous one for me, reminding me of everything that made me fall in love with Jackie, Sammo and Yuen Biao all those years ago. It may be a victory lap, but it’s a victory lap at the height of their careers that showcases exactly why they ruled the Hong Kong box office in those days.
If you’re new to Jackie Chan, I wouldn’t start with Dragons Forever, but if you’re a tried-and-true fan and you haven’t already seen it… what are you doing? Dragons Forever is an absolute must for anyone who loves Jackie, Sammo, and Yuen Biao! Also watch out for cameos from such Hong Kong legends as James Tin Jun, Wu Ma and Lo Lieh!
Next up in this chronological journey through the films of Jackie Chan is Police Story Part II! Oh yeah, can’t wait to see that playground fight again! See ya then!