Opened: January 10, 1997 | Rated: PG-13
Two words: Underwater kung-fu.
Jackie Chan has done it again, and this time he's done it with a surprisingly lucid script and a bit of Hollywood funding for the kind of explosions that placate American audiences. But don't fret, traditional Chan fans, "First Strike" isn't a sell-out picture -- it's just bigger and better dubbed.
The underwater kung-fu fight takes place in the shark tank of an Australian Sea World-type attraction, one of several international locations in this fourth installment in the super-successful "Police Story" series.
Chan most popular Everyman character, Jackie the Hong Kong cop, is assigned to follow a girl linked to the Russian mafia. She leads him to the Ukraine and eventually to Australia on a quest for a stolen nuclear trigger for a bomb that's in the hands of potential terrorists.
I realize this sounds complicated, like Chan might be trying too hard to stretch, but that's not the case. As usual Jackie is a victim of wild circumstance and it's far more credible than it sounds, especially with Chan playing the reluctant hero so well.
But let's cut to the chase -- the stunt tally: The aforementioned underwater fight. One scene of Chan with aluminum ladder vs. 20 guys with sticks. One Chan vs. Russian mafia guys on the balcony of a high-rise hotel fight. One Chan on stilts vs. guys on the second floor of a parking garage fight. One ski jump to a helicopter. One jump from the helicopter (as it explodes) into a frozen lake below...I won't prattle on, you get the idea.
In addition to Chan's usual tongue-in-cheek moments, director/producer Stanley Tong also has a little fun with the international intrigue plot line by peppering "First Strike" with a number of nods to James Bond. The best of these being a lengthy, no-holds-barred snowmobile, snowboard and ski chase, complete with Bond-ish music, that puts the opening of "A View to a Kill" to shame.