1991, PG-13, 96 min. Directed by Jackie Chan. Starring Jackie Chan, Eva Cobo, Carol Cheng, Ikeda Shoka.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., July 25, 1997
Jackie Chan as Indiana Jones, sans bullwhip. This 1991 Chan opus (Armour of God II: Operation Condor), repackaged with a new score, better dubbing (Chan does Chan, natch), and some minor trims here and there, is a rousing introduction to the one-man army that is Jackie Chan. Not nearly as serious an outing as 1985's Police Story nor as ridiculous as the unwisely titled Meals on Wheels -- Chan's 1984 pairing with comic director (and fellow Peking Opera prodigy) Samo Hung -- Operation Condor falls somewhere in the middle. Chan's directing assures us a goodly number of pratfalls among the action set-pieces, and although new recruits to the Cult of Chan may be put off by the man's constant mugging for the camera, Operation Condor nevertheless contains some of the superstar's most notable sequences, including a third-act melee in a wind tunnel (you can almost hear the cast's muscles being pulled out of alignment) and a crazed motorcycle brawl straight out of John Woo's Hard-Boiled. The difference between Woo (this summer's Face/Off) and Chan, of course, resides in the body count -- Woo: 500 to Chan: 5, usually. Operation Condor's plot has something to do with superagent “Jackie Condor” (Chan) being sent to the Sahara to recover a fortune in stolen Nazi gold. To keep him out of trouble, his superiors team him with a Cheng, a desert fox with a penchant for inopportune bath times. Along the way, the pair encounter Cobo as the daughter of one of the original German swindlers, and later, Shoka as a wily thief. Together, they manage to find the gold while battling assorted ethnically stereotyped villains and their own occasional clumsiness. Chan's female counterparts, as is often the case in his films (and HK films in general), are little more than cardboard cut-outs, there to look good and scream on cue, and occasionally offer the barest (wink, wink) of support. No one will ever accuse vintage Chan of being overly feminist, nor are you likely to see Andrea Dworkin receiving a producer's credit any time soon, but Chan's good humor and PG-13 antics are so infectiously over the top that it's hard to hold the man accountable. Chan's style of filmmaking has more to do with the old Mack Sennett two-reelers than it does with modern feature filmmaking, although in this particular case it owes just as much to the Spielberg/Lucas camp, and, in particular, the Indiana Jones series. Silly, action-filled fun, with breathless pacing and the occasional bare bottom. Chan as Chan, again.