"Mr. Nice Guy"
It used to be Jackie Chan's assembly line kung fu flicks had such fantastic stunts and lightning-quick fights to make an audience forget about the cardboard acting and porno-quality plots.
The man must be losing his touch.
"Mr. Nice Guy," his 1998 offering, has all the hallmarks of classic Chan -- choreographed martial arts, wild stunts, silent-film style comedy -- but director Samo Hung seems to have taken his cues from American straight-to-video action flicks. The interest level here is somewhere just above watching paint dry.
Littered with gratuitous slow-motion, unnecessary explosions, lame gimmicks (a Hell's Angels wedding), and obscene product placement (there's a Pepsi logo in every other scene), "Mr. Nice Guy" is just about as bland as an action movie can be.
This time out, Jackie plays a television chef in Australia (a cheap place to film) who gets mixed up with a babe investigative reporter on the run from the mob.
He's carrying a bag of groceries down the street when -- bang! -- she's chased right into him and a fight scene breaks out.
So much for plot. Jackie spends the rest of the movie fleeing from dime-a-dozen thugs in a "G.I. Joe"-quality string of capture and escape sequences in shopping malls, abandon buildings and on a horse-drawn carriage in downtown Sydney.
Usually that minuscule shell of a story is all Chan needs to build a raucous, thrilling, funny action movie. But here the same old formula (two cute kids, a helpless girlfriend fresh from China) grates on the nerves and the action is ruined by Hung's dreadful editing.
Literally 20 minutes of the movie is in slow motion, and we don't see most of the stunts in their entirety, so the amazement and enjoyment are lost.
Despite some great props (circular saw, cement mixer, trash can), the fights just don't have the energy they do in Chan's better movies, like "Supercop" or "First Strike," and the climax, in which the mob boss' mansion is destroyed, is entirely dependent on explosions and guys jumping through plate glass windows.
I don't go to a Jackie Chan movie to see him drive a giant dump truck into an exploding mansion. I go to a Jackie Chan movie to be wowed by funny fights and amazing stunts. Most of this movie has been through the wash so many times all the color has faded.
I don't go to a Jackie Chan movie to see him drive a giant dump truck into an exploding mansion. I go to a Jackie Chan movie to have a little mindless fun and with whimsical fights and stuning stunts, and this movie has neither.