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IN SHORT: Real Good Chan.
History first: The fact of the matter is that the diehard Jackie Chan fans have already seen Mr. Nice Guy, which was made two years back and has been available on video import. That leaves us normal folk, who may have gotten our first taste of Chan with the incredibly inappropriately named (but brilliantly marketed) Rumble in the Bronx. Two studios have been battling each other with releases of other Chan product ever since and those flicks have all been, frankly, generic.
The strong point of Jackie Chan's flicks has never been the story, always a bare bones frame on which to hang his incredible fight sequences. Chan's strength has also been that he is unafraid to make fun of himself. Action and comedy work well together. The more Chan flicks you see, the more you look forward to the good parts and ignore the rest. That's straight from the mouth of continuity freak Cranky, who's learned to look the other way. Once you've seen a couple of Jackie Chan movies, the only way they get better is if the action gets bigger. Which brings us back to the present, and Mr. Nice Guy.
Jackie Chan versus a Monster Truck. [tee hee]. This is after Jackie's apartment gets grenaded and before he takes on the villainous glass house. [double tee hee].
This time out, Jackie is a television chef. Diana (Gabrielle Fitzpatrick), a red-haired knockout of a television reporter (who will spend a good hunk of time lounging in her Victoria' Secrets) has videotaped a major cocaine deal and is being chased by the usual inept, but nasty, gang. Jackie saves her butt, her videotape gets swapped with a vid of Jackie's show and soon drug lords and street gangs are after the pair, Jackie's show producer and his just off the plane from China girlfriend. There's some family stuff and a pair of cute kids but, this time out, the emphasis is less on humor than on action.
In this, director Samo Hung and Chan's stunt choreographer Cho Wing have done a great job. Mr. Nice Guy features more action than the usual flick, reprises some classic Chan stunts and introduces some very dangerous looking bits, two of which involve very sharp metal objects and their ability to separate Jackie's Crown from his Jewels. The fights are staged inside a minivan; all around a galloping out of control horsedrawn carriage; on public escalators and at tube stations in Melbourne, Australia.
Still, the acting is B-picture level and the story has fewer major errors than usual. Cranky's advice is to have the concession stand pour extra golden glop over your popcorn. That way you can lick your fingers when Jackie pauses before whipping the bad guys.
As always, just when it's all over, the outtakes reel runs. In this case, most of the humor that wasn't present in the "real" movie bursts like a damn. Jackie messes up his lines and giggles like a school kid. Jackie gets hurt and the audience I sat with giggles likewise. Go figure.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Mr. Nice Guy, he would have paid . . .
Hell, Cranky only gave Rumble in the Bronx a $4. Mr. Nice Guy, the fourth Chan flick I've seen, is a blast. Now if only we could get Chan to team with Chow Yun-Fat and John Woo. . . .
Hey, a boy can dream.
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