Armour of God II: Operation Condor [飛鷹計劃] (1991)
AKA Operation Condor
Starring Jackie Chan, Carol Cheng Yu-Ling, Eva Cobo De Garcia, Ikeda Shoko, Vincent Lyn, Jonathan Isgar, Dan Mintz, Bozidar Smiljanic, Aldo Sambrell, Ken Lo, Ken Goodman, Winston G. Ellis, Wayne Archer, Bruce Fontaine, Steve Tartalia, John Ladalski, Nick Brandon, Chen Chi-Hwa
Directed by Jackie Chan
Expectations: Very High. This has always been one of my favorites.
Armour of God is one of my favorite Jackie Chan films, and in my opinion this sequel sits right alongside it. It exemplifies everything Jackie had been working to refine over the course of his directorial career in the ’80s, to the point that he didn’t direct another film until 1998’s Who Am I? To be fair, I don’t actually know if that’s why Jackie handed the reins over to other directors in the ’90s, but it makes sense to me. He calls Miracles his favorite of his films, and it represents a real culmination and sophistication of his talents behind the camera. Jackie takes all of that wit and style and applies to it a more traditional Jackie film; the result is the stunning and incredibly fun Armour of God II: Operation Condor. After something as triumphant as that, why not take a break from complete control to see what direction others might push him in? This would ultimately result in his collaborations with Stanley Tong, arguably some of the most entertaining films of his entire career.
After another “Jackie tries to steal artifacts from natives” opening scene, we learn that Jackie’s mission this time is to find a cache of hidden Nazi gold. Like the first film, he picks up a few traveling partners: Elsa (Eva Cobo De Garcia), Ada (Carol Cheng Yu-Ling), and Momoko (Ikeda Shoko). These three women contribute significantly to the success of the film, enhancing the comedy of the film and playing off of Jackie quite well. They each get their individual moments to shine, but they are never better than when they come together towards the end to fight one of the henchmen.
I started that last paragraph talking about the story, but it quickly devolved into something else. The film is similar to this, but I don’t think it really matters. I forgot why Jackie was looking for the Nazi gold just about right after they said it, and my enjoyment never waned. The key to this is how incredibly well-paced the film is. It just sings by, throwing flashes of action, stunts and comedy at the audience in quick succession. The film never lingers long enough for its story flaws to matter, and because of this effortless pacing you could even argue that there aren’t truly any flaws to be had in Armour of God II: Operation Condor. If I was consistently wowed and entertained, is there really a point of arguing that a movie had flaws? Why spoil that fun by breaking down things that don’t matter? And just so I’m clear, I’m not holding back on my problems. I literally have none with this movie, I just know that they’re there under the surface if I were to scratch at them.
What really helps the film achieve this perfect pacing is in its editing. Not only are the scenes structured in such a way not to overstay their welcome, but within these scenes the individual shots are flawlessly pieced together to create these wonderful scenes that effortlessly flow into one another. At its best, editing doesn’t draw attention to itself; its job is to create a flow that pulls you along without you being overtly aware of it. This is why some films fly by, and others seem like they will never end. Of course, interest and things like that play a part as well, but that’s kind of beside the point I’m trying to make. These things are especially apparent within action scenes, and what Jackie put together for Armour of God II: Operation Condor are among the best he ever constructed. That fight in the Nazi base that leads into the wind tunnel fight is a big ol’ slice of Jackie-tastic heaven.
What else can I say? I absolutely love this movie, start to finish. It’s action-packed, super fun, and laugh-out-loud funny; what more could I ask for in a Jackie Chan movie? It might not necessarily work if you watch it as a logical movie, but it absolutely excels at being a fun romp, so cast aside your cares for a little while and take a trip with the Asian Hawk.
Oh, and as a fun little fact for Jackie fans… that’s director Chen Chi-Hwa (Shaolin Wooden Men, Half a Loaf of Kung Fu, Snake and Crane Arts of Shaolin) as the hostage husband of the native queen during the intro!
Next up in this chronological journey through the films of Jackie Chan is Chu Yen-Ping’s Island of Fire, the second of Jackie’s favor films to Jimmy Wang Yu. I honestly can’t remember if I ever saw it… I don’t think so. Anyway, see ya then!