Monday, May 23, 2016

Project A

   Project A is a big period piece adventure flick on the old coast of China. There's cops, naval officers, pirates and gangsters. In the middle of all of this is superman Jackie Chan. He carries the movie with a buzzing energy that only he could, making Project A a blast from start to finish- even if it is a bit... much. I haven't been so overwhelmed by the sheer amount of non-stop action in a movie, like this, ever. This was a first for me. Maybe I was simply tired? But, even the people I watched it with- all Chan-fans, agreed that this was excessively jam packed full of action. I didn't even know I could get worn out on fighting and action scenes before I saw this movie!

   The plot is largely inconsequential, so long as you can follow characters and their motivations from scene to scene, you'll be fine. The villains are cartoonishly evil, and the good guys are often hapless buffoons. I found the dynamic between Chan and Sammo Hung to be, at times, endearing. Yet, at other times, it's kind of annoying. Sammo Hung is the comic relief in a movie that already has Jackie Chan in it. It's kind of overkill. It doesn't work as well as it did in the Wheels on Meals trilogy. Nevertheless, Hung is a welcome familiar face, bringing his own brand of smugness, hilarity and action to this adventure flick.

   The movie might've been better off without Sammo in it, but at the same time, he's still so fun to watch. It's an odd conundrum. Chan also has great chemistry with co-star Yuen Biao, rounding out the trio of leads who'd go on to star together in Wheels on Meals. Project A is a nice taste of what they can all do together. As far as sheer action, Project A is in the upper echelon of Chan flicks, bursting at the seams with all manner of chase scenes, fist fights, stunts, and even a shootout or two. The story is... there, and the villains are only bad because we're told they're bad. They're just the requisite bad guys that every action movie needs.

   The script never elevates them to classic levels of vile, and seems content to just label them bad and let the chaos ensue. We're fortunate then that the choreography is on point, and that the humor sticks the landing- being actually funny. I've heard though that the American version, released by Miramax is chopped to all hell, removing several key humorous scenes, and re-editing other parts entirely. I'm not shocked. In fact, as soon as the Miramax logo came up, I groaned. I knew I was going to be missing out on some stuff. I first came across Miramax's butchery when I was looking for Nirvana, a 90's cyberpunk thriller. Oh boy.

   With Nirvana, I actually had the benefit of having both the foreign version and the Miramax version on hand to compare both. It was sickening how much Miramax cut- and for no discernible reasons either. For shame. I can only speculate about what I missed out on with Project A, but I have a feeling the Hong Kong version was more fleshed out and overall better. Nevertheless, Chan's fighting prowess can't be dulled or denied, even in a hacked up edit of the movie. In every scene, he proves why he's the best there is at what he does. In particular, there's a show-stopping bicycle chase that blew me away. So, even if the only version you can find is the Miramax one, I would still suggest you give it a watch. It's pretty damn fun.

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