Chan wages a zany, nonstop 'Strike'
by: Susan Wloszczyna
Jackie Chan's First Strike (*** out of four) Is like a circus where the acrobat and the clown are one and the same. There's definitely more than 'three rings' worth of death-defying feats, high-flying slap stick and even a few well trained animal acts. From stilts, snowboards, swinging step riders to snapping sharks, no prop or stunt is too outlandish risky for this hammy master of the martial arts who continues to conquer U.S. audiences.
The wiry, unassuming Chan is not slick, but he is constantly inventive. He always attempts to out do himself, whether flying off a cliff and grabbing hold of a hovering helicopter or engaging in a slo-mo underwater fight without an oxygen tank.
Some may be disappointed that Jackie Chan's First Strike (as opposed to, say, William Shakespeare's First Strike?) has only one actual kungfu showdown. But it's a doozy, as he defends himself against an army of opponents with tables, chairs, dragon heads and the aforementioned ladder.
The serpentine plots are never as smooth-as he is, and something is always is lost in the translation in these dubbed movies. But it matters little as we are whisked away from the snowy slopes of Ukraine (actually British Columbia, where an underdressed Chan shivers beneath a goofy hat shaped like a baby seal) to the sunny shores of Australia.
First Strike unfolds like a James Bond adventure, an observation actually made by Chan's Hong Kong cop turned spy, eventually goes on the lam after being wrongly fingered for a murder. He's sucked into a web of international intrigue involving the CIA, the Russian Mafia, a double agent, a purloined nuclear warhead and a cute female scuba diver who work at a Down Under water park. Just sit back and wait for the next rush of action.
Chan prides himself on doing all his own stunts, as evidenced by the amusing crash boom outtakes at film's end. A bonus: The dubbing here is less intrusively comical than in last year's Supercop, and the star's miming skills are better displayed. He mugs, shrugs and moves on to his next challenge like a high-octane Harpo Marx.
Unlike 007, Chan doesn't pretend to be invincible and has no time to think about stirring a martini let alone seducing a woman. Fans wouldn't have it any other way.
(PG-13: violence, partial nudity)
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