Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Jackie Chan's First Strike ★★1/2

 Image result for Jackie Chan's first strike stills

    If you have never seen a Jackie Chan action film, then you are surely missing out on two wonderful aspects of filmmaking: graceful choreography and nonchalant humor. Although these characteristics are a staple in Chan's best pictures, it is the shortage of these irreplaceable things that makes "Jackie Chan's First Strike" pale in comparison to films such as "Rumble in the Bronx," the latter of which becoming relentless in its efforts to employ such techniques.

    The plot, as negligible as it may seem, centers on Jackie and his attempt to bust a former CIA agent's scheme to sell nuclear weapons to a Russian mafia. This takes our skilled martial artist to Ukraine, Russia, and ultimately Australia, as our protagonist must track down the arms dealer and restore justice to the world in the only way that we know he can: with a large dosage of wholesome fist fighting. There are twists, turns, and smokescreens, along with a plethora of dialogue that is not easily followed, considering the poor quality of dubbing. (Another mainspring of Chan's films.)

    Action scenes are in abundance, although it is the nature of these instances that fail to provide the fast paced and frenetic entertainment that we are normally accustomed. In fact, most of the action takes a back seat to the storyline, which is as unfavorable as it is unneeded. I guess the focus on such trivial matters is nothing more than a political decision, as it has been quite a struggle for Chan to get a national release here in the United States. Yet, that is the beauty of these films. (Who needs a story when the martial arts choreography deserves a stage of its own?)

    Sure, there is an opening sequence composed of racing snowmobiles and snow skiing gunman that provides an adequate fulfilling of adrenaline-laced insanity. Additionally, there is a fighting scene which sees Chan utilize a ladder, among other things, to fight off a group of adversaries who believe that our beloved hero has committed a homicide. Other scenes (consisting of a confrontation at a hotel and the local aquarium) tend to forgo the formerly mentioned action that makes these pictures so delightful, as the plot's resolving regrettably becomes the center of attention. As strange as it is to desire vacuous entertainment, this is a genre of filmmaking where it is direly warranted, and "Jackie Chan's First Strike" unfortunately cannot provide enough.

    I must wholeheartedly agree with one of my contemporaries, that being Roger Ebert, as he puts forth the notion that a Jackie Chan film is one of an acquired taste. This is undeniably true and a fact that can only be realized after numerous showings of the like. There is just something about a man who risks his well-being in order to do his own stunts. (Most of which are in reality quite dangerous.) It takes a lot of pride and gusto to accomplish such feats, and Chan is really only doing what young adolescent boys attempt to do in every hour of play--that is--to become your very own action hero.

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