Mr. Nice Guy (1997)

mrniceguy_2Mr. Nice Guy [一個好人] (1997)
AKA No More Mr. Nice Guy, Mister Cool, Nice Guy, SuperChef

Starring Jackie Chan, Richard Norton, Gabrielle Fitzpatrick, Miki Lee Ting-Yee, Karen McLymont, Vince Poletto, Barry Otto, Peter Houghton, David No, Judy Green, Jonathan Isgar, Sammo Hung, Emil Chow Wah-Kin

Directed by Sammo Hung

Expectations: Interested to revisit it.

threestar


Mr. Nice Guy was the first brand new Jackie Chan film to be released while I was a fan. I often find that films (or albums) with this distinction hold a special place in my heart, as they struck me right at the genesis of my fandom and I was in a prime mindset to receive them. Mr. Nice Guy never did much for me, though, outside of a couple of the action scenes. Regardless, I was eager to revisit the film, both as a Jackie Chan vehicle and as one of Sammo Hung’s last films before his 19-year directing hiatus (which ended with this year’s The Bodyguard). Mr. Nice Guy is a fairly weak film when judged on traditional merits, but as an internationally appealing Hong Kong production, it’s an overwhelmingly fun, unsung gem.

Traditionally speaking, the main strike against Mr. Nice Guy is its story. It’s so thin that it’s something of a miracle that the whole thing doesn’t crumble into an incoherent mess. It’s more of a set-up than a true story, but as much as this hinders the film, it also allows the action to flourish. There are lots of fun chases, fight scenes, and athletic Jackie Chan stunts… perhaps more than in any Jackie film since Rumble in the Bronx. It feels like Jackie was finally back to full strength after his broken-ankle setback on Rumble, and the amount of classic Jackie action in Mr. Nice Guy benefits greatly from this. So in a way, the thin story is actually one of the film’s biggest strengths that lays the groundwork for the action to build on top of.

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Armour of God II: Operation Condor (1991)

operationcondor_1Armour 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.

fourstar


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.

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