Film & DVD Review
Man Bor (Jackie Chan) is a wacky girl crazy private eye with a penchant for fast cars, primary colours, and living large. When the daughter of a Japanese tycoon disappears, Man Bor finds himself following her onto a luxury ocean liner. Its no pleasure cruise, though, as our hero soon finds himself under siege from Colonel Donald Mac (Richard Norton) and his team of terrorists. Helped only by a gun toteing lady undercover cop (Chingmy Yau) and a fast dealing card shark, Man Bor must use all his wits, tricks and fighting skills to save the day. International superstar Jackie Chan illuminates the screen with this bright cartoon of a movie which is fast furious and fun from start to finish. Worth seeing alone for the Streetfighter 2 rip off scene where Jackie dresses up as Chung Li!
City Hunter is a bit more of a comedic movie compared to Jackie Chan's other films. In virtually all his other films there are many elements of slapstick comedy, but in this film he really wanted to go over the top and make it cartoon like, as this film was inspired by a Japanese comic. While this formula upset a lot of fans, I found that it was a welcome change that showcased Jackie Chan and his team's originality and imagination when it comes to film making.
"Did the balloons make it too big an entrance?"
Jackie Chan is Man Bor, or Ryu Saeba as the subtitles call him which I can only guess could be the name of the City Hunter character in the comics, a private detective with an eye for women. He is hired to track down a Japanese tycoon's runaway daughter, and when she finds her way onboard a cruise ship set for its maiden voyage, he happens to follow but in search of his assistant (Joey Wang). She had left him as she has a crush on him, but is sick of his constant womanising. The ship is full of millionaires, and at midnight on the first night, a group of terrorists take control of the ship. With the help of a gun-crazy cop, and other misfits on board, it is up to them to save the day and stop the terrorists.
Despite the rather violent and cold blooded killing that occurs during the film, City Hunter somehow still manages to retain its completely over the top comedy mood. Innocent hostages on board the ship get killed left, right and centre, but yet you still can't help but laugh! For this you really have to hand it to the film makers.
"Who needs doors!"
Aside from the comedy, the most important thing in this film is obviously the action. It is a Jackie Chan film after all! In this department it is a little bit different to the Jackie Chan fight scenes that you may be used to from his other Hong Kong films. But don't worry about this, as they are still highly imaginative and great to watch!
The first proper fight scene is in the cinema, with the Bruce Lee movie The Game of Death (I think) playing in the background. It's the one where Bruce Lee has to fight the 8' tall guy who likes to sit in the chair. You know the one? Yes? Good, as that's important. No sooner has Jackie taken care of several drone bad guys that the girl he's rescued comments on Bruce Lee fighting the tall guy, to which Jackie responds that he could "handle two or three of them at a time". Right on cue two 8' tall guys come in to prove otherwise! The fight scene that ensues starts of very comedic with Jackie not being able to touch them, and he even gets the giant footprint on his chest, just like in the Bruce Lee movie. He soon, however, starts to copy the moves Bruce used in his film and uses them on the bad guys. This I guess was Jackie's homage to Bruce Lee!
"Smile! You're on camera!"
After that there are some little short fights, and a brilliant and hilarious bit where Jackie disarms a bad guy of his machine gun then his pistol, much to the bad guy's surprise, only for it to end with the bad guy accidentally shooting himself! It may not sound much on paper, but when you see it done, and the fluidity of the moves, you're bound to find it amazing! The next fight scene has Jackie fighting one of the main bad guys, and this one is nothing spectacular in techniques, but it does have some pretty fast hand work. It is all mainly just basic punches with a few kicks thrown in, but they are fast and combined with the music that is played over it, it is actually quite a funny fight. The bed flip bit though is incredible.
The next fight scene, for me, was one of the highlights of City Hunter , and certainly one of the most over the top and funny fights I've seen to date in any Hong Kong cinema film. Due to Jackie being thrown through a Streetfighter 2 arcade machine, his opponent and himself take the form of Streetfighter 2 characters! Jackie is E. Honda and then Chung Li, and he's up against Ken! Trust me, it'll have you in stitches! It is short but well worth watching!
"What? The fancy dress is next week?"
The last fight is between Jackie and Richard Norton, and is the big finale fight of the film. Clocking in at about 5:30 mins, it doesn't really disappoint. You've got hand to hand stuff, weapons against empty hand, and weapons against weapons. Everything you could really hope for, plus throw in plenty of comedy, and it is yet another cool fight to watch! Maybe not as techincally brilliant as his other films, but with the cartoon comedy elements thrown in I found I wasn't really caring!
While the fights are, on the whole, completely different in style to his fights from other films, they are nonetheless still highly enjoyable to watch, as is the rest of the film. Chingmy Yau is super cool and sexy in her role, and plays it to perfection, and is easily the highlight of the supporting cast, all of which put in credible performances. Bright colours, sexy women, hilarious fights, and top comedy, all in one package!
"They'll never think I'm bad. I'm wearing glasses!"
Audio & Subtitles
The DVD comes with either Cantonese DD5.1 or English DD5.1 soundtracks. I had a short listen to bits of the english dub, and god it sounded awful. The voice of Richard Norton in particular was terrible. So I'm only going to comment on the Cantonese track. It may be classed as 5.1, but as with a lot of 5.1 remixes of what were originally either mono or stereo tracks, most of the sound comes from the front centre speaker. The subwoofer is used to good effect, and it is just general things like music and weather effects which are spread around the speakers. The sound itself was quie adequate for my ears. There was nothing about the sound which struck me as being bad in anyway, so it got the thumbs up from me!
"All these women, and just ME!"
The subtitles were of a pretty good standard as well, as you'd expect coming from a British company! Perfect grammar and spelling. I don't know why Jackie Chan's character is caller Ryu Saeba in the subs, when it is quite clear from the audio that he is being call something like Man Bor. Like I stated earlier I can only assume that Ryu Saeba is the name of hte City Hunter character in the original Japanese comic. My biggest complaint about the subtitles, though, is the lack of them during the song sequence. I can't imagine it would have been that hard to subtitle this scene, and even if the lyrics were nonsensical, so is a lot of the film! So it wouldn't have made any difference! I was quite annoyed/disappointed that this scene wasn't subbed, as with the City Hunter theme that plays in other scenes of the film. That is my only real complaint though.
"At the weekends I like to dress up as..."
The picture for this film is presented in anamorphic widescreen. For a film like City Hunter which uses A LOT of bold primary colours, good colour reproduction is a must. Fortunately Hong Kong Legends manage to pull it off and have produced a highly impressive print. The colours are vibrant, and the print is blemish and grain free, certainly as far as I noticed anyway. There is a decent amount of detail on screen, and I imagine this film has never looked better!
"I told you, red was last season. This'll teach you..."
DVD & Extras
Being a Hong Kong Legends DVD, you're dealing with a company that seems to care more than most about getting value for your money. Granted a typical HKL DVD will cost you more than double a Hong Kong released DVD, so maybe you should expect more from HKL? Either way, with City Hunter you've got a good selection of extras. You've got a Picture Gallery of stills from the film, Biographies on Jackie Chan and Joey Wang, Trailers for the film, an Interview Showcase featuring interviews with Jackie Chan, Richard Norton and Gary Daniels, all of which are surprisingly interesting to watch. You'll learn so much just from these interviews that it'll be a shame if you never watch them! There is also an out-takes montage which is just the out-takes from the end of the film with a few extra on set camcorder shots, and lastly there is an audio commentary from Hong Kong Legend regular Bey Logan. All in all a good set of extras, on a very well packaged DVD!
"I don't care what you think, you're NOT getting on here with me."
Despite City Hunter being far more in the comedy direction than all other Jackie Chan work, there is a still a more than welcome space for it in his collection. It allows you to see more of the comedy side of Jackie Chan, and the things he is willing to do for his films. The fights implement this comedy style, and resulting from this are fights of the like which you are unlikely to see again. I gather there was a Streetfighter 2 type film made called Future Cops, or something like that, where Chingmy Yau was Chung Li. I've not seen it as I heard it was crap, but I cannot imagine that the fights in that will even rival the fights in City Hunter. You'll laugh yourself silly, and enjoy virtually every moment of this film, even though the plot is simple at best.
"Crap, I left the oven on too long again..."
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