Tuesday, 25 August 2009

The Protector


Written & Directed by: James Glickenhaus
Starring: Jackie Chan, Danny Aiello & Roy Chiao

The Protector gets a bad rap. By no means is it a masterpiece and it certainly doesn’t touch the action and fun heights of the Hong Kong films Chan was producing around the same time (Wheels on Meals, Project A) but for his first American lead role, The Protector isn’t that bad. It is also a lot darker than many of his other films and it’s interesting to see Chan take on a harder edged role.

Due to the darker and sometimes sleazier nature of the film, Chan fans were put off The Protector as it didn’t feature his normal knockabout comedy hi-jinks and intricate fighting scenes. As a New York cop sent to Hong Kong to bust a powerful criminal ring, Chan gets to act serious, swear and even visit a dodgy massage parlour. He is the typical no-nonsense cop, teamed with a wise cracking partner (Aiello) and despite the film not being similar in tone to Chan’s other films, The Protector still delivers tons of stunt filled action. Glickenhaus (The Exterminator, Blue Jean Cop) certainly stages some big set-pieces and streamlines the plot so we get from one action sequence to the next in quick time. Chan manages some impressive feats of stunt work including being lifted from a speeding boat by helicopter before it crashes into another boat; hopping across the tops of boats in Hong Kong harbour in pursuit of a suspect; and fighting a bad dude on a suspended platform hanging from a giant crane. Unfortunately Chan doesn’t get to cut loose fight wise as much and the fights aren’t as intricate and sustained as his Hong Kong stuff. Still, his fights are fairly brutal and there is also lots of hard hitting gun play.

Being a Glickenhaus film, the cheese factor is ever present (this is the 80s after all), the dialogue often ropey and there is a fair amount of full frontal nudity (female) on display which ups the sleaze factor. Understandably, this may irk die hard Chan fans but its refreshing to see him play a serious role and quite well I might add. Not a classic but underappreciated and even holds up better than a lot of Chan’s recent western product. This review refers to the American version of the film. Chan re-cut and re-shot a lot of the film for the Hong Kong market, omitting a lot of the nudity and swearing.

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