Monday, May 23, 2016

Project A part II

   With neither Sammo Hung nor Yuen Biao returning for this sequel to the high-adventure of Project A, the result is a rather mixed bag. First off, Part II is much more story-centric. I found it easier to pay attention to the plot in this one than in the predecessor, probably because there was more to actually pay attention to? There's a wealth of sub-plots, and a lot of story, leaving the action and fight scenes to take a back seat. But, I don't think that was necessarily a bad thing. I found Project A part II to be genuinely engaging, even if it wasn't as explosive or action packed as it's predecessor.

   The movie opens with some of the surviving pirates from the first movie, swearing they'll have their revenge on Ma Lung (Chan) for killing their leader. This is a kind of deceptive opening because the pirates are immediately relegated to a back-burnered sub-plot and all but forgotten about during most of the movie. They only show up at times to add a bit of action to the story, and provide a chase scene here and there. Which was fine, I thought they were fun characters- and their sub-plot is worth paying attention to. But, the majority of the story deals with corrupt cops and gangsters. Chan has to take charge of a new district to expose the corrupt ways of the captain there, at any cost.

   This puts Chan and a group of local revolutionaries in the crosshairs of some very bad individuals. I gotta hand it to this flick, the villains were much better than they were in the last one. You genuinely got the sense that they were evil and even vile at times. Unfortunately though... I wasn't a fan of the fight choreography in part II. They seem to have knocked Chan down a peg or two. I've seen him effortlessly take on a room full of guys, and make short work out of them, but for some reason he struggles to even fight two guys at a time in this one. I don't know what was going on here, but there's not a single fight in the movie where Chan looked like he wasn't losing constantly.

   There's some creative fight scenes, when they do occur, but the two standout moments in the movie aren't even fights at all. One is a foot chase with some fun stunts and a bit of a humorous blend to it. The other is a hilarious and suspenseful scene where at least half the main characters in the movie are all trying to hide from each other in this one girl's house. Leaving her to try and coordinate this mess of hiding and shushing. It was easily the best part in the movie. But, speaking of the main characters- there's quite a colorful cast of interesting characters in this one, and I had fun watching them get into all sorts of trouble.

   This is one Jackie Chan vehicle that favors story and character over fights and stunts, and while it doesn't skimp on either of the latter, it's still kind of underwhelming in the wake of the first one. Chan was portrayed as more of an average fighter rather than the superman the first movie showed him being (as many of his others do as well). I wasn't a fan of that, but I enjoyed the movie nonetheless. It's a better film than Project A, but it's nowhere near as consistently exciting. Regardless, if you're a Chan-fan, you could do a lot worse than this if you're seeking out some of his old school flicks. Recommended as a decent companion piece to the first one.

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