Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Stanley Tong
Stars: Jackie Chan, Chen Chun Wu, Jackson Lou
Jackie Chan, Hong Kong’s most popular martial arts star, brings his distinctive brand of action, furious mayhem, and punishing slap stick comedy down under for this fast paced adventure filmed partly on locations in Australia.
The fourth installment in Chan’s popular Police Story series, First Strike is more James Bond in flavour, style and plot. The charismatic hero (played by Chan) is a Hong Kong policeman assigned to catch a rogue former KGB agent who has hijacked a nuclear warhead for the Russian Mafia. The deadly chase leads Chan from the frozen wastes of Russia to the sunshine, high rise apartments and theme parks of northern Queensland. The film features all of the non-stop action and furious flurries of martial arts tempered with that cheeky touch of humour and self-mockery that audiences have come to expect, all delivered with Chan’s usual sense of flair and flamboyance. As usual though the action in Chan’s movies is not graphically violent, with the emphasis being on the star’s formidable martial arts skills.
Director Stanley Tong (Rumble In The Bronx, etc) maintains a brisk and punishing pace throughout, and he effortlessly glosses over the nonsensical and formulaic nature of the plot. First Strike also showcases Chan’s considerable comedic talents as well in a couple of sequences when he dons rather silly disguises. Chan has a preference for performing all of his own dangerous stunt work, and his agility, fluid style and fancy footwork makes it all seem so easy, but, as usual, the final out-takes show just how potentially dangerous the impressively choreographed fight scenes and frantically staged chase sequences can be. There is an exciting ski chase filmed at the popular ski resort at Falls Creek, doubling for the remote snow covered wilderness of Russia, while a number of cleverly staged underwater sequences filmed in a specially recreated theme park on the coast of northern Queensland allow Chan and the villains to tangle amidst some dangerous sharks.
Working with one of his biggest budgets yet Chan is in fine form with the funny, fast paced and exciting action adventure First Strike. Unfortunately, this entertaining film is occasionally let down by some obviously clumsy dubbing that reminds one of the early kung fu films of Bruce Lee, before he made his breakthrough. However First Strike delivers lots of action and fans of Chan’s unique style will not be disappointed.