Thursday, March 27, 2008


The Action Mutant…
is getting too old for this shit!


review by Joe Burrows

After the huge box office success of the Jackie Chan vehicle Rumble in the Bronx (third times the charm!), everyone and their Uncle Bill Tung wanted in on the money. Suddenly, small video companies started churning out copies of Chan’s previous films like they were crack. All kinds of Chan literature started to spring up from nowhere. And (most of all) American film distributors were getting in line to be in the Jackie Chan business. While New Line Cinema eventually reaped the most benefits (mainly through the Rush Hour films), Dimension Films had a good thing going as well. The Bob Weinstein backed division of Miramax took to releasing previous Chan films in American theaters, to the tune of one every few months. This gave American audiences the impression (and really reinforced the fact) that Chan was the “hardest working man in action cinema”. The 1992 Golden Harvest release Supercop (aka Police Story III) was the first of these films.

The Plot, as it was:
Chan plays Chan Ka Kui, a cop who is hired to go undercover to bust up a drug smuggling ring. He has mistakenly gotten the reputation of a “super cop”, which he doesn’t necessarily dismiss right away. He gets teamed up with lovely female cop Jessica Yang (Michelle Yeoh) and breaks out the ring’s middle man, simply named Panther (Wah Yuen). Of course, the façade doesn’t last and the duo must bust the ring up before they are eventually busted up.

Don’t shoot me…I’m only the reviewer!:
Forget the plot. Seriously. If you go into a Jackie Chan film looking for a plot, you will lose. Forget the conventional storyline and sit back and watch Jackie do what he does best: nearly kill himself for his art. Jackie’s the rare breed of cat that will jump from a rooftop to a ladder strung from a helicopter, fight on top of a speeding train and outrun people by mine cart. As usual, Chan and director Stanley Tong throw in everything but the proverbial kitchen sink, which more than enough to distract from the fact that we’ve seen this tale before. If that weren’t enough, Supercop features the breakout role of Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Tomorrow Never Dies). She does everything to establish herself as the “female Jackie Chan”, as she goes crashing into car windshields and jumping her motorbike onto the top of the aforementioned speeding train. Add in Maggie Cheung (as Chan’s girlfriend, who manages to get dropped from a helicopter onto a car through convoluted circumstances) and the always fun Bill Tung (who gets to play Jackie’s “grandmother” at one point….don’t ask) and you have the usual, crazy fun Chan thrill ride.

Body Count/Violence: 47. There is more gunfire here than in most Chan films (given this is more an “Action/Thriller” than “Martial Arts”), so there are more dead bodies than usual. The rest come from explosions at the drug lord’s compound and the climactic train fight. An unusual death has a crime boss getting his head bashed in with a piece of fruit.

Sexuality/Nudity: What do you think? It’s a Jackie Chan film, so everything’s playful here. Jackie flirts with his girlfriend and Ofc. Yang but it never goes anywhere. There’s an amusing sequence in which Jackie has an entire hotel staff convinced his girlfriend’s a hooker. All and all, good times abound.

Language/Dialogue: Nothing strong, just an SOB and an S-bomb or two. There are a few Fs courtesy of the soundtrack of Gangsta Rap laid down by Dimension for its American release but it’s played at such a low level, you may not notice. (Note: The soundtrack is one of the few horrible ideas used to “Americanize” these releases by Dimension. Though Devo’s title track did leave me chanting “SU-PER-COP!” for minutes afterwards.)

How bad was it?:
Supercop got pleasant but not overwhelming reviews in the States. Those new with Chan absolutely loved it, while those more familiar with him put it slightly above his usual best.

Did it make the studio’s day?:
Surprisingly, this was considered a disappointment in Hong Kong originally in 1992 (which was due to the audience being burned out on the genre, though it grossed $32.6 million HK). It was released by Dimension for American audiences on 7/26/96 and did fairly well, opening in 6th place. The American release differed slightly, being shortened by 3 minutes (91 as opposed to 94), given a new soundtrack and opening credit sequence and (of course) dubbed horribly. They also changed Chan’s character name and dubbed Yeoh “Michelle Khan”, as if “Yeoh” was so impossible to pronounce. The film spent three weeks in American cinema and grossed a respectable $16.3 million.

Film: ***/*****
Entertainment value: ****/*****

Copyright 2007 The Action Mutant.

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