Posted November 6, 2018 by Chris Hick in Film Reviews

Project A & Project A Part II Blu-ray Review

Jackie Chan’s films can be marmite, even for those like myself who like a good martial-arts movie. What is without doubt though is the artistic and choreographic prowess of the action in his films. It’s probably the efforts at comedy that can make many viewers cringe. Chan’s films contain less of the gory violence that many martial arts action movies from the generation that preceded him, particularly those from the Shaw Brothers. Other than his American Rush Hour films, it is the Police Story trilogy that he is best known for along with City Hunter (1993), also recently released on Eureka Entertainment. For Chan fans this Eureka! release will be a welcome and very thorough Blu-ray package indeed, crammed with extras including extensive features on the stunt work and Chan’s career and includes both of the Project A films.

The Project A films are period films set in the late 19th century and focuses on the Hong Kong police force. The main character is Sergeant Dragon Ma (Jackie Chan) who is member of the Honk Kong Naval Police Force, the border force and in the first film they are after the pirates causing the police problems. Dragon gets into a fight in a bar (in the first action set-piece) getting him into trouble. He is demoted for his efforts and joins the regular police force, while the pirates are organising themselves for an armed insurrection.

The second film changes tack a little. This time directed by Chan himself, he makes the plot a little more political than the previous film (on an extra on the disc, Asian film expert, Tony Rayns explains that much of this was due to the discussions of the handover of Hong Kong to China from Britain as the lease was due up in 1999). It opens with Dragon now taking over his own precinct and begins by flushing out corruption. The pirates are still present, but this time end up being on Chan’s side fighting against the bowler hatted gang villains. The action and stunt work go up a notch in their level of quality.

Chan’s energy, ability and skill in both these films, as they are in many of his films since his breakout feature, Drunken Master (1978), also released by Eureka!, his action has been extraordinary, whatever you think of the ‘comedy’ in his films. Indeed, the action is very similar to that from the golden age of comedy such as moments that resemble set pieces from the Keystone Cops, Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton. Indeed, the films are better during the action sequences and less so during any moments of dialogue. Not least of all this is evident through the chase sequences and especially the inventive bike chase through the small side streets.

Throughout both discs there are a good deal of extras, not least of all with those who worked with Chan on several films, highlighting how the star relied on those he trusted. The extras also go into the lengths Chan would take in ensuring the action sequences were perfect, as is exemplified by the 6 week process to shoot one action sequence in City Hunter. For both films, Rayns talks about the more film historical analysis of each film individually and there are several vintage extras looking at Chan’s career and interviews with those involved in the making of both films.

Chris Hick

Chris Hick