New York Post

Lots More High Karate

by: Larry Worth

What's with a title like "Jackie Chan's First Strike"?
Has a documentary crew captured the Asian superstar's debut at a bowl-o-rama? Or is it an attempt to avoid confusion with maybe "Jean Claude's First Strike"?
   Thankfully, it's just overkill on the producers part. More importantly, Chan never lets such redundancy affect his universally acclaimed stunts. They're as fresh and invigorating as ever, served up amid a steady stream of fiery explosions, a hail of bullets, and hands flying from every corner of the screen.
   In addition, "Strike" has Chan all over the map, hightailing it from Hong Kong to the Ukraine to Down Under to you name it. Viewers need a trip-kit to keep up.
   But plot never counts for much in a Jackie Chan vehicle. Here, Chan -- referenced in the script only as Jackie, no surname --- is a cop caught between Hong Kongs boys in blue, the KGB, CIA and Russian Mafia as he tries to collar an arms dealer who smuggled a nuclear warhead from Moscow. Still following?
   Not to worry The good guys are virtually indistinguishable from the bad, particularly as they all make Chan do the high jump sooner or later.
   Then again, that's what audiences eagerly await. It's like watching a dumb Busby Berkeley extravaganza, where the spurts of dialogue are endured to get to magically choreopraphed musical numbers. And sure enough, Chan's fancy footwork is as stunningly realized as the best of Busby.
   Here, Chan does his thing with collapsible ladders, stilts, snowmobiles, never mind great white sharks. At one point, he even gives James Bond a run for his derring-do while dropping from one cliff after another on one ski, or engaging in underwater battle a la "Thunderball." All that's missing is a James Barry score.
   Through it all, Chan maintains his humbling sense of humor, always proving lovably fallible especially when rescuing the damsel in distress. Ultimately, he's a presence that's both godlike and human, an irresistible combination.
   Sure, one can't help imagining Chan in a quality production - minus the badly dubbed dialogue, continuity snafus and idiosyncrasies of writer/director Stanley Tong. But the pair's meteoric track record indicates that Tong is the ying to Chan's yang.
   So - unless talking about one of Chan's priceless limbs -- if it ain't broke, why fix it?


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