This is probably the first movie of his that I was anticipating before it came out. I was introduced to Jackie Chan way too late, so all the movies I watched with him were made long before I actually saw them. Well, except for Rush Hour 3 which I watched at the movies. How did I become such a Jackie Chan fan anyway? Back when I watched RH 3 it was just because it seemed like a good movie, not because Jackie Chan was in it. Anyway, I didn't have very high expectations for this movie because I've read a lot of bad reviews about it, warning me that there's barely any martial arts in it, that it's long and boring and that Jackie just tried too hard, and sadly, it was partially true.
When the movie started I was thinking that all these rumors were false, because at the beginning it actually seemed like a great movie. It all starts with a chase in which Jackie Chan wields some kind of suit with wheels all over it, on hands, feet, chest, etc. He's rolling downhill, weaving through traffic, rolling under cars, fighting motorcyclists and at one moment actually roller-blading on a thin ledge with no safety nets beneath him. Just as in the previous two Operation Condor movies, it really begins with a bang. It's a good start, and the continuation isn't so bad either. The story behind the artifacts (12 of them, as the movie states) isn't so bad, and there's a bunch of good actors apart from Jackie Chan, but the ending is just... it's a disappointment.
As the movie progresses, there are occasional stunts, and then there's the grand finale, right? But it doesn't feel complete at all. It feels rushed. It feels like it could have been so much better than it was. Jackie Chan rolling down a volcano in a pretty cool suit and ending up victorious in a hospital bed, that's just not how he rolls. He doesn't end the movie injured. Injured but happy, but still, injured. It's not his style. There's no final fight. And after the credits roll there are supposed to be a bunch of outtakes, right? Nah, there's just him falling through a frame and lying on the floor writhing in agony, and that's not fun at all. He just looks like an old man. In real pain It's depressing. Is he showing that final sequence to let his fans know, subtly, that he can't keep doing such crazy stunts? I wish he'd just let it be and only include the good stuff, and end it with yet another crazy-stunt and survive-all as we all expected him too. This is kind of like Rocky Balboa, in which Rocky puts up a final fight but gets beaten in the end, but he's still in the spotlight because he gave it all he got. It was a mighty finale, but at the same time just downright depressing. This feels the same way.
As for the rest of the movie, there's so much reused material! Like the two girls, they're just like the two in Operation Condor 2. The mansion even looks the same (hey, maybe it really is the same mansion! More like castle btw) and the dogs chasing him, and the... yeah, it seems he's running out of ideas. Either that or all of this is intentionally there for the sake of nostalgia, but if that's the case... it's not working. There's clearly some wire work as well when he's doing some of his more crazy stunts, which is a shame, but there are plenty that seem real.
I have no doubt that he really gave this movie his all, but at the same time he's overworking it. There's a lot of footage of reporters talking, and people watching TV screens to see how things go, showing painful expressions, onlookers from a distance... just like ourselves, and somehow that just doesn't belong in an adventure movie like this! We want to be where the action is! There's an underlying moral, sure, but they don't need to state that moral explicitly through the media, a subtle approach in which we understand the moral by how the character acts in certain situations would be much better.
There are a few loose ends too, like the pirates, and their captives, and the gold at the bottom of the ocean, and a shipload of shit. What happened? Is this really the end of it? If they had cut out some of the filler (like the zoom in on Jackie Chan's funny faces after he wrestles with a camera) they could have fit in a much better ending. I don't mind if it's not Jackie fighting all the time (the cat fight was pretty intense, I need to see if they've been in any other movies), but there should at least BE a lot of fighting. That's a trademark for these films. A lot of fighting, and a lot of comedy, and a lot of crazy stunts. This movie actually has all three, but it's like he didn't manage to combine them as well as he could have. Some sequences are just too long. Some sequences are just unnecessary.
In the end, it's like a parallel ending for five different parties in the movie (Jackie, the rebel group, the enemy, the upset wife, the rich girl and the Chinese girl in the rebel group). They all have different motives, different endings, and somehow Jackie feels a bit left out. He's lying in bed just like a retiree. The movie has the same style as Mr. Nice Guy, kinda, or Supercop 4 (and I didn't really like either of those). There's just a lot of unnecessary footage, exasperation, a wish to mimic Hollywood, IDK, it's just not as great as it could have been. Too long. Too many lose-ends. Too much focus on too many things. I guess that's what happens when you spend more than a year working on a movie; working on every aspect of it; getting in the Guiness World Book of Records for most roles played during the making if a single film. Hope the next one will be better, because for sure this isn't the end of his career! He still looks half his age.
I'll have to watch this again sometime because maybe I'm just getting a bad first impression. It's not a bad movie, just not as good as it could have been.
rated 3/5: not bad