The Jackie Chan Collection Vol. 2 Blu-Ray Review: Police Stories, Cameos and Collaborations
When New Line finally released Rumble in the Bronx in 1996, it was the first I’d really heard of Jackie Chan. Once I saw it, I scrambled to find more. Luckily, Tower Video had a few imports, but mostly I was stuck with his previous two American releases, and some of the cheap Lo Wei movies before New Line and Dimension re-released his good ones.
Shout! Factory’s Jackie Chan Collection Vol. 2 even still has a new to me title in it after all these years. What I would have given for something like this in the ‘90s.
Winners and Sinners and Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars are two of the three Lucky Stars movies Chan was in. He’s not the star, but they encompass the brotherhood with Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao, as well as the jarring tonal shifts that would characterize Hong Kong movies.
Chan is a cameo in these films but he works in those scenes. Winners has his roller skate course and he’s in the film’s biggest fight scenes. Twinkle Twinkle is the one I realized I hadn’t seen before because who can keep track of all the various names these movies were re-released under. I would have remembered Chan’s warehouse fight and the Stars versus the women.
Wheels on Meals is a proper three brothers movie. It’s one of the more widely available ones but usually not in HD with the proper language and subtitles.
The Protector is not a good Jackie Chan movie but as a sub Cannon ‘80s cop movie, it’s kind of magnificent. Stuntmen visibly brace for wire pulls on camera. Kicks blatantly miss but they use the take. The squib budget is intense.
Shout! says Chan’s Hong Kong cut, with added fight scenes, isn’t in high definition but it actually looks about the same as the U.S. cut. And, it has the English language hybrid option.
The Armor of God movies are the most trademark Chan movies of this collection. The first was actually one I found at Tower on VHS, but it was letterboxed and the subtitles were cut off. So seeing it widescreen on a large screen with proper subtitles is a treat.
I have seen the original cut of Operation Condor since my first viewing of the Dimension cut. There is an even longer cut on this collection.
Crime Story is probably the best of Chan’s many efforts to do a drama. It strikes the best balance of applying Chan’s choreography to hardcore cop drama without slapstick.
City Hunter is a lot easier to forgive in HD. The stylized live action comic book visuals mitigate some of the silliness. And it has the Street Fighter scene. It’s a Wong Jing movie, not a Jackie Chan movie. They must’ve hated each other given Wong made High Risk and mocked Chan mercilessly.
I’m a broken record about how good Hong Kong movies look on Blu-ray. In this collection the American film looks the worst with its drab, “gritty” big city aesthetic. The others are all bright and colorful.
Wheels on Meels also includes the new documentary Break-Neck Brilliance about the evolution of Chan’s career. It’s pretty insightful considering it does not include Chan, but then no documentary is ever going to top My Stunts.
Break-Neck Brilliant includes Chan’s assistant action director, Wang Yao, Police Story Executive Director Chen Chi-Hwa, and academics like Frank Djeng and others. Wang clarifies Chan’s reputation for doing his own stunts. That only meant the most dangerous stunts. If it was a basic stunt, he’d let his guys get paid. There are some behind the scenes Operation Condor stories I didn’t know either.
Composer Stephen Endelman provides insight into the ‘90s wave of rescoring these movies. He doesn’t address why the original wouldn’t work though. He was just hired for the assignment. Endelman does mention Harvey and Bob Weinstein wanted Hollywood action score, but it doesn’t include the Dimension score because Shout! doesn’t own it
Most of the movies include audio commentaries too. David West loads his commentaries with well researched background information and explaining cultural differences in Hong Kong to international audiences.
Kim Newman and Sean Hogan have a good natured laugh at The Protector, rightfully, but they do credit the film’s impressive sequences. They still manage a Frank Stallone reference by the credits.
James Mudge’s commentaries are more speculative on inspirations as a critic. He gives a defense of extended comedy scenes though acknowledges elements that didn’t age well. He’s got production stories of the film at hand and related films, though not as many or as detailed as West’s.
Mudge can be critical of some of Crime Story’s melodrama but he’s fair. He points out flaws I didn’t notice like the airplane set. Though he has no answers about whether or not Chan ghost directed that film, he believes Kirk Wong and can explain where Wong’s influence is everywhere.