Rob-B-Hood [寶貝計劃] (2006)
AKA Robin-B-Hood, Project BB
Starring Jackie Chan, Louis Koo, Michael Hui, Teresa Carpio, Yuen Biao, Gao Yuan-Yuan, Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin, Terence Yin Chi-Wai, Conroy Chan Chi-Chung, Andrew Lin, Matthew Medvedev, Ku Feng, Ken Wong Hop-Hey, Ken Lo, Hayama Hiro, Cherrie Ying Choi-Yi, Candice Yu On-On, Chen Bao-Guo, Nicholas Tse, Daniel Wu, He Jun, Ng Kong
Directed by Benny Chan
Expectations: Kinda high. I’ve come to expect good things from Benny Chan.
Rob-B-Hood is kind of a weird movie. Contrasting the modern realism in Benny Chan and Jackie’s previous collaboration, New Police Story, Rob-B-Hood feels like an attempt to revive an ’80s style focused on providing wild entertainment over believability. Apparently the film was originally intended to finally reunite Jackie, Sammo and Yuen Biao, too, lending further credence to this idea. But while the criminal character dynamics between Jackie, Louis Koo and Michael Hui recall early ’80s movies like Wheels on Meals, Rob-B-Hood owes an even bigger debt to the Aces Go Places series. The obvious connection is the baby who is often in harm’s way, but elements of that series’s James Bond riffs also find their way into Rob-B-Hood.
Thongs (Jackie Chan) and Octopus (Louis Koo) are master safecrackers, and we meet them in a hospital’s pharmacy. They are stealing high-priced drugs while their leader, Landlord (Michael Hui), waits in the getaway van outside. Crosscut with this is the birth of a child, which seems insignificant at first but wouldn’t you know it, they showed this birth to us for a reason! Imagine that. Mid-way through the criminals’ escape attempt, a disgruntled and mentally unstable ex-boyfriend of the baby’s mother abducts the kid. At first, he even tries to drag the mother along for the ride, still in her hospital bed. This fiasco gets the heat off of Thongs and Octopus, but as luck would have it, when the crazy ex-boyfriend loses control of the baby and it falls down a couple of stories in the hospital’s open lobby, Thongs is able to jump off the escalator, save the kid’s life, and return him to his mother. Thongs and Octopus are now free to leave the scene of their crime, but their story with this infant is far from over.
Rob-B-Hood is much more of a straight comedy than a lot of Jackie Chan’s movies. Major stretches of the movie are just Jackie and Louis Koo trying to care for the kid… in hilariously poor fashion. I especially enjoyed their frantic shopping trip for supplies, as well as every time a chock-full-of-shit diaper was thrown across the room or into someone’s face. None of it feels all that fresh (except for those diapers 🙂 ), but it’s fun to see Jackie and Louis struggle with the situation regardless. In general, the interplay between Jackie, the baby, Louis Koo and Michael Hui is top-notch comedy, in terms of both physical performances and writing. Michael Hui and his wife (Teresa Carpio) also share a fun dynamic, although her character doesn’t get nearly enough screen time or much to do. Perhaps this is fixed in the film’s extended version, but that will have to remain unknown for now. Come to think of it, this complaint could also be said about a lot of the female supporting characters, who show promise but only come and go in service of the plot. Unfortunately, the same fate also falls on Shaw Brothers star Ku Feng, who plays Jackie’s ailing father.
The action also comes and goes through a lot of the film, and as you’d expect it’s a whole lot of awesome. I did want some of the fights to go on a bit longer, but this is a small complaint in the face of what’s offered up in Rob-B-Hood. Part of the fun of these movies is discovering the little intricacies of the action for yourself, but I will say that once again Jackie has managed to bring together stunts and fights in a way that felt fresh and unique. The main villain of the film happens to have his own amusement park next to his house (in wild James Bond/Aces Go Places fashion), and it was there that my love of Jackie, crazy stunts and roller coasters collided in ways that I never could have dreamed up. It’s flat-out awesome, and it’s only one small section in a film full of fun action moments. There’s also a stand-out fight that felt like they shot it in the JC Stunt Team’s stunt workshop (shown in Jackie Chan: My Stunts), which is to say that there is a ton of random things used to great effect within the fight.
I’m not convinced that Rob-B-Hood is a great movie — it felt too long and unfocused — but it is a highly entertaining one. I would say that any fan of Jackie would enjoy this, although if you’re especially affected by kids in danger you might have a rough go with it. They really put that baby through the ringer!
Next up in this chronological journey through the films of Jackie Chan is Rush Hour 3! Never saw that one, so I’m curious to see if it’s any good. See ya then!