At least to me City Hunter is an acquired taste.
The first time I saw it I was so taken aback by what an incredibly silly
film it is that I was flabbergasted. For some reason though I watched
it again and enjoyed it more and then another time and began getting a
kick out of this film. It certainly doesn’t rank with Jackie Chan’s best
films – but it has a number of charming elements and a few well-choreographed
action scenes. It is directed by Wong Jing and in a sense it is more his
film than Jackies - as it is filled from top to bottom with assorted facial
mugging and cleavage jokes.
It is based on a Japanese manga and Chan’s character
is Ryu Saeba a private investigator. The film reflects its manga roots
by utilizing bright colors, fantasy sequences, curvaceous women, exaggerated
action and cartoonish slapstick comedy. Nearly all the comedy is
physical in nature – pratfalls, funny faces – similar to that of the silent
The opening scene is a bit off-putting as Jackie
explains that he was a partner with Michael Wong, but Wong is killed and
in his last words asks Jackie to take care of his little girl, Kaori. The
whole scene is done in an absurd – unreal – almost Busby Berkely surrealistic
style that signals to the audience not to take anything seriously in this
film – not even the killing of your partner. The girl quickly grows up
(in a matter of seconds on the screen) to be the fetching Joey Wong who
becomes Jackie’s girl Friday. Joey is very much in love with Jackie – but
sticking with one girl is not City Hunter’s style – he is a lady’s man
to the end.
A rich Japanese industrialist hires Jackie to
look for his runaway daughter – Kumiko Goto. Kumiko is apparently a fine
gymnast off the screen and performs a number of her own stunts.
This search leads to a wonderful skateboard chase through the streets of
HK as Jackie both dodges cars and jumps over them.
Both Kaori – in a snit at Jackie – and Kumiko
end up on a cruise ship and Jacky is not far behind them. Among the other
passengers are the stunning Chingmy – also a private detective – and her
top-heavy assistant. Nearly the first half of the film is completely
comedy – with the skateboard chase being the only exception. Then the film
kicks into high gear for the second half as a large group of thieves attempt
to take over the boat to kidnap thirty billionaires on board – everyone
else though is very expendable.
The action is great fun – again very cartoonish
for the most part – though quite violent – and some of the set pieces are
very clever. Jackie’s fight with the two black giants while in the background
Bruce Lee’s fight with Abdul Karem Jabber plays on the screen; the scene
in which he and Gary Daniels take on the persona of video game characters
(though I hate this bit myself); Jackie’s swing dance with Chingmy as she
guns down the opposition and then the final fight against Richard Norton.
These are all done tongue in cheek, as is nearly the entire film.
Jackie or perhaps Wong Jing leave lots of room
for the other characters to have some nice moments. Kumiko has a great
gymnastic scene high above the ship, Leon Lai is a professional gambler
who is literally deadly with a deck of cards, Joey has a very funny scene
with Gary Daniels and Chingmy is just sizzling hot and very deadly. Among
the baddies is also a slightly fey Ken Lo and look for an early appearance
of Eric Kot and Jan Lam.
If you go into this film with the right frame
of mind – that there is nothing serious in this film – just enjoy the beautiful
women, shrug off the corny comedy and appreciate the action – this film
can be a guilty pleasure.
My rating for this film: 7.5
For a few more pictures
from the film, click here.