New York Times

No Sex, No Blood: Just Good Clean Fun

by: Stephen Holden

Early on in "Jackie Chan's First Strike," the movies' cheeriest action hero finds himself installed in the posh presidential suite of a seaside hotel somewhere in Australia. Although the place comes with its own ,Cuddly koala bear and eucalyptus tree, there is still something missing. As Jackie muses over the telephone to his Hong Kong boss, he feels like James Bond, except for the girls, there are none.
   "Jackie Chan's First Strike," the euphorically frothy fourth installment in Mr. Chan's "Police Story" series, could be described as the most sanitized James Bond movie ever made. Following the formula of a typical Bond film,'it swoops all over the globe, from Hong Kong to Ukraine to Australia (by submarine!). Wherever Jackie lands, he is quickly nudged into action by J. Peter Robinson's pounding soundtrack, in which echoes the twangy bustle of John Barry's scores for the 007 movies.
   This installment, directed by Stanley Tong, finds a much more comfortable blend of Hong Kong martial arts antics and glitzy Hollywood action-adventure than last year's "Rumble in the Bronx." In portraying New York's northern borough as a kind of "West Side Story" stage set, "Rumble" crashed through the credibility barrier separating the extremely far-fetched from the hope- lessly ludicrous.
   If "First Strike" hangs its action on a silly plot involving the C.LA., the Russian mafia and a stolen nuclear warhead, its story isn't much dumber than any number of recent Hollywood action-adventure yarns in which former K.G.B. members are the bad guys. And the action in the film's meticulously choreographed; action sequences has a zany buoyancy that approaches the sublime.
   The movie's first delirious liftoff finds Jackie zooming through the mountains of Ukraine via snowmobile to spy on an arms dealer and his henchmen in a ski lodge. No sooner has his presence been detected than a bunch of gun-totlng soldiers dressed in white who have been hiding under the snow suddenly rear up through the drifts. A breathtaking chase ensues in which members of this daredevil ski team (who look like Ku Klux Klansmen in their snowwhite thermal robes) leap out of helicopters onto the slopes as Jackie, a novice skier, tumbles downhill in a series of sensational pratfalls. In the sequence's final feat, Jackle, who has grabbed onto a helicopter that is under fire, lets go and plunges hundreds of feet down into a freezing lake.
   After the next dizzying sequence, in which Jackie leads a pair of thuggish giants on an acrobatic chase across the roof, ledges and balconies of his Australian hotel, the pace rarely flags. A spectacular joust with a Chinese gang finds Jackie twirling and juggling a metal ladder as he leaps from platform to platform. His battle with the Russians leads to an indoor "oceanarium" in which Jackie and his foes don scuba gear to fight each other underwater while bloodthirsty killer sharks circle hungrily around them. It builds up to a comic sequence at a Chinese funeral percession, in which Jackie dashes around an l0-foot stilts.
   It's all done with barely a trace of blood (only a discreet smudge here and there), no sex, no profanity and remarkably little trickery because the star does his own stunts. Talk about good, clean fun: here it is.

"Jackie Chan's First Strike" is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cauntioned). The violence may be sanitired and fake looking, but it is still violence.

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