I recently watched Jackie Chan's latest film, Chinese Zodiac, written and directed by Chan himself, and what did I think about it? It was a pretty fun flick and overall a good popcorn-muncher, but I do have to say, in contrast to the rest of the Hong Kong/Chinese film industry and the way it's evolved in the past 30 years, Chinese Zodiac seemed like a quaint relic from a bygone era. Certainly the effects, sets, editing, cast, and even the technology depicted in the film were all up-to-date at the time of this post, but the way the film was paced feels as though it were made during the "golden age" of Hong Kong cinema. Perhaps this should come as unsurprising, as the film's creator consolidated his identity and subsequent fame during that period, but I feel I should explain a bit.
|Jackie Chan as he appears in Chinese Zodiac|
|A much younger Jackie Chan as seen in Armour of God (also known as Operation Condor 2 -- despite the fact that Operation Condor was actually Armour of God 2 ** whew **), of which Chinese Zodiac is the third installment.|
|JC in Police Story (1989)|
|One of the original Police Story (1989) posters.|
Nowadays Hong Kong and Chinese films (formerly two separate entities that have more or less merged in present times) have begun to resemble much more closely the high production values and polished look of the average Hollywood-grade product, and as such the narratives of these films have slowed down considerably and the scripts themselves tend to have more focus. Even Chan's recent work has been more focused, less rapidly paced, and less centred around action. However, Chinese Zodiac features a script that could easily have been divided into six individual movies spanning an indeterminable number of genres at the very least!
|2004's New Police Story, directed by Chan himself|
The story centres around a fictitious historical relic that was taken out of China by French soldiers who attacked the country a century ago. Chan's character is hired by a sleazy antique dealer to get the relic so that it can be sold and reproduced for profit. The film has it all, with tonnes of action, comedy, and even a bit of romance, reminiscent of Chan's "golden age" material, and the pace doesn't let up until the end. The action is typical of Jackie Chan's work, and even though there are more wirework, stunt doubles, and CG than in his past movies (let's face it, he's almost 60!), Chan still does a number of impressive fight scenes and stunts himself. The funnest thing is that this is actually Armour of God 3 (or Operation Condor 2, if you will), which is a wonderful throwback if you're an old-school Jackie Chan fan.
|Jackie sporting his roller suit in Chinese Zodiac|