Friday, May 17, 2013

Project A - A Political Commentary for the Ages

So, as long as we're back on the Jackie Chan bandwagon (see the last blog), we're just going to go right ahead and help ourselves to blogging about the fantastic movie that is “Project A”. Now, we don’t often start off a blog with a summary (of sorts), but in the case of this film you can guarantee that it is awesome as it stars the dynamic trio of Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao, and Sammo Hung. And, if you’ve never seen these three in a film together… then you MIGHT want to get out more and rent a film or two.

BUT SERIOUSLY! This film is great and our “review” is really going to be more like an interpretive play-by-play, because you can’t improve upon comedic perfection… with punching and acrobatics.
The BEST bad photoshop E-V-A-R!!
Project A is a 1983 film written by Jackie Chan (uh… hello) and Edward Tang (pretty much EVERY crazy Jackie Chan film ever), produced by Raymond Chow of Golden Harvest (Bruce Lee fame), and stars the aforementioned folks. The film is all about the Chinese Coast Guard seeking out and fighting off Chinese Pirates off the coast of Hong Kong during British rule. And, though this is a sort of confusing arrangement of “context”, don’t get too hung up on it as it really only plays a minor role in the totally ridiculous, insanely choreographed bits to come.

SO, get your popcorn and beverage, and prepare for a whole lot of unbelievable ridiculousness.

Our film starts in the late 1800's in Hong Kong, though the costuming is really more 1910. Hong Kong is under British rule and you can see some of the influences seeping in to society... mostly in those crazy military uniforms and pith helmets. Now, despite all of the riches and trade and civilization brought by the Brits, there are some crazy pirates off the coast of Hong Kong that are out to get some serious booty.

NOT THAT BOOTY!!! (sheesh people)

Now though it's not readily noted, there is a significant kerfuffle between the Coast Guard and the Navy... which I (Kelly) don't get, so I ask my former Navy spouse for details. According to him "The Coast Guard isn't real military." (rolls eyes)

Ok. So. They stand around and look good on the coast, with their zinc nose protection... and pith helmets. And they somehow believe this makes them better than the bumbling Navy. Right. Got it.

Now, everyone know that Sailors + Bars = Trouble. So of course, said kerfuffle is demonstrated via a bar fight, in which beer is spilled, people are punched, and stuff is broken. The ensuing fight is entirely epic. BEST... BAR... BRAWL... EVAR! We counted:

1 chair
2 tables
12 chairs
The whole bar
... and two bottles of ketchup.


Oh with the flying and the punching and stage diving with the acrobatic and comedic "OUCH THAT HURTS" bits! Jackie Chan and Yuen Bao (as Inspector Chi, a rising star in the Coast Guard) win a big gold star!

Anyway, the Navy fellas get in trouble for the fight, and the other guys don't. Because otherwise there wouldn't be a movie. So now the Navy's been shamed, had a finger wagged in their face, etc. And to add insult to injury that same evening, they go through all the pomp and circumstance of getting ready to leave on their mission to find and destroy the pirates, only to have their ships captured and blown up before they've even boarded them. This does not impress the Grand Poobah of British Officers (the one who MUST be in charge because he's British and has a large feathery hat) or the commander of the Coast Guard, who seems to have come by just to watch the ridiculousness unfold. So the Navy is a failure, and even Jackie Chan can't save it. For now, anyway.

Insert Pirate Scene in the brightly lit dinner/night club. Strangly enough, that guy doesn't look like a pirate. Rather, he looks like a 1970's Mutton chopped, leisure suit suit wearin', fro-totin' throwback. There is some plan hatching that involves the thwarting of the Coast Guard (via inside information from Inspector Chi... say whaaaaaaa??) and the stealing of some big guns.

In a last ditch effort to save his guys, the Admiral proposes the execution of "Project A" by his navy. And, as it so happens, this time their plan involves ACTUALLY catching the pirates... but the plan is shot down, the Admiral is demoted, and all the sailors are turned into police officers, which involves a significant amount of hilarious humiliation at the hand of Inspector Chi, aka the bar jackass. In which people almost die. Insert a little hand grenade humor and a deadly prank causing significant destruction.

Apparently death and burning is no big deal though, as everyone (Chan, Chi, and some other dudes) heads out to the starkly lit supper club/nightclub/gangster pirate hangout for an investigation and drinks... and the utter destruction of said establishment. To be fair, they ARE actually on a mission to arrest the gangster people, but they don't exactly go about it in the most covert fashion, dressed like newsies and flashing their badges, and...

This is not going to go well...

Now, after a significant amount of destruction (and the near death of an entirely comfy looking blue chair), the corrupt police chief shows up and starts pointing his "blamethrower" at Chi and Chan (which I just realized makes me laugh when I say that), and whatever wasn't decimated in the previous fight now gets ENTIRELY trashed in round two of "catch the bad guy"... who just happens to be in an obscure upstairs room, straightening his tie.

When the police bigwigs show up to shut down the fight, Chan becomes enraged at the corruption on the force and goes all Three Muskateers off of a chandelier. And the balcony. And that guy's face. And OH NO!!! NOT THAT BLUE CHAIR AGAIN!!! It is here that it become entirely apparent that this film has an ENORMOUS chair budget. Oh, and Chan quits the force, by the way.

By the end of the fight, the bad guy is caught and drywall mysteriously cascades from his face. It's amazing. Here's a clip...

And Chan, having resigned, hands over the bad guy to the cops and then storms out of the establishment where he is promptly met by "Fats", played by Sammo Hung. Apparently now, Fats has just gotten out of jail and is seeking to get into some hijacked weapons trading business. And, for some reason Chan agrees to help him and they choose to sneak onto the scene in the darkness of night, under the subtle cloak of what can only be described as the equivelant of a brightly colored butterfly.

But, they surprise the gangsters, steal the guns, and then Fats reveals his plan to sell the stolen police guns, that he re-stole, to the gangsters. And, this pretty much ticks Chan off seeing as he is in fact a police officer. And, this all results in the most severe log-trolling EVER! Oh, and Sammo Hung log rolling in a top hat. We can't forget that, because that's just adorable. Whole movie, entirely worth it, right there.

Fats gets angry, hunts down Chan, and the gangsters hunt down Fats, and the resulting debacle turns into a Scooby Doo style chase through town, complete with the most brutal bike chase business EVER SEEN!

-Clothes Line (classic move)
- Chamber Pot toss
- Ladder to the face
- Pole into spokes
- Bike slap
- Butt jam
- Balcony crash
- Entire restaurant destroyed.

... and somehow EVERYONE is very pleased by the destruction. Well played Chan and Fats. Well Played.

Now, part of the whole cluster of bodies and bikes was comprised of the Chinese Bowie Gangster and his goons, and naturally they are very displeased about this whole guns thing. So, they manage to catch up with Chan and, before they can give him the beat down, he (Chan) turns himself into the police chief for "various bike related incidents" which have caused a disturbance. And, under normal circumstances this would have been a pretty good way to ensure safe escort back to the police station. However, this is a Jackie Chan film and such a thing would be boring. SO, no.

Chan gets handcuffed to a flagpole while the chief and his men chase Fats, leaving him entirely exposed to the gang's brutality. His only escape? Up the flagpole and onto the not-so-close-to-the-flagpole rooftop. Yes folks. He really and truly does it. And then a ridiculously acrobatic kickassery fight takes place inside the clock tower with the swinging pendulum, whizzing clock bits, and giant turning gears. And in normal Jackie Chan form, he dangles hundreds of feet in the air with no safety supports, only to crash to his imminent death through awning bits... Twice. Because you didn't quite get the bone crunching pain in that first take.

Chan's not dead, but with the everyone safely distracted by the gangster people on land, the Pirates and their leader, Danny Trejo, have a heyday taking over a ship with some very important British people on it (namely the Read Admiral who was coming to holler at the Navy people), stealing their top hats and women. While all that is going on, Chan magically recovers and sneaks in to the Grand Poobah's chambers (Ok, so he's a British Colonel. I like the word Poobah.), catching him making corrupt deals with the gangster dude. Chan jumps out of the fireplace (the best place to hid, you know), confronts the Colonel, gives a big dramatic speech about soldier's duty and such, and VOILA! The Navy is reinstated and headed out to complete Project A and rescue the Rear Admiral. Way to go, Chan!

And now, the infamous Mavens FLASH FORWARD! 33 minutes of film in a run-on sentence! **deep breath**....

Chan beats a witness into submission, dons a monacle, talks his way onto a gangster boat that inexplicably has Sammo Hung hiding in storage, and heads off to a mysterious island to find the pirates and rescue the Rear Admiral, where he meets the Pirate King (whose name is Sam, and yes that really is Danny Trejo's voice, we weren't kidding), gets in everyone's good graces, enjoyes some colorful pirate festivities, and finds the stolen guns, only to eventually be backed up by the entire Navy AND police force, get in a whole lot of trouble, and battle Pirate Sam to an asplodie death involving a rolled up persian rug and a hand grenade.


And there you have "Project A". A wonderfully punchy, super entertaining, pirates vs. Navy vs. painful stunts packed film. We give it a big time thumbs up, as we've easily watched it three times each. Rent it, legally download it, buy it... do whatever you have to do to see this film!

So, until our ADD kicks back in for another rousing movie review/interpretation...


- The Mavens