Jackie Chan Double Feature: Crime Story/The Protector

| January 12, 2013

This double feature Blu-ray from Shout! Factory showcases two Jackie Chan pictures produced through China’s Golden Harvest Company. The first of these, 1993’s Crime Story, from director Kirk Wong (The Big Hit), is based on true events surrounding the kidnapping of a billionaire and the daring rescue orchestrated by Hong Kong police, headed in the film by Jackie Chan (of course). The release also includes James Glickenhaus’ The Protector (1985), notable for featuring Chan’s second starring role in an American production. The Protector, as it happens, is also about a kidnapping, adding additional cohesion to this double feature.

Crime Story is a solid actioner that gets off to an admittedly slow start. However, the initial kidnapping sequence and subsequent car chase ramp up the film’s pace, and the whole affair culminates in a spectacular climax, as Chan battles the kidnappers in a housing complex while the building’s gas pipes explode around them. The martial arts and Chan’s stunt work are everything you expect from a Jackie Chan picture, and it’s well worth slogging through the dull opening to get to the later action set pieces. Unfortunately, while it’s great to at last see Crime Story released on Blu-ray for the North American market, the picture quality of the transfer here is often shockingly poor, characterized by significant amounts of debris, scratches, and other anomalies. Furthermore, the film automatically plays dubbed and only features dubtitles (meaning that if you do switch the audio to Cantonese, the only subtitles available caption the English language dub rather than offering a direct translation of the original dialogue).

The Protector, billed second in this double feature for a reason, made neither writer/director Glickenhaus nor Jackie Chan a household name in the States. Glickenhaus is still best known for his 1980 film, The Exterminator,and perhaps rightfully so, as The Protector is little more than a run-of-the-mill cop thriller, so steeped in ’80s clichés that it’s hard not to laugh at it. There is, I swear to you, even a god’s honest slow clap early in the movie, which is actually the culmination of an absurd string of trite film conventions beginning when Officer Billy Wong (Chan) and his partner Mike decide to go out for a drink to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Billy’s arrival in New York. This of course necessitates the death of Billy’s partner in a botched robbery and a high-speed boat chase as Billy attempts to avenge his partner’s death. Mind you, this all happens in the first fifteen minutes of the picture.

What follows is truly miraculous. Billy is assigned a new partner, resulting in one hell of an unlikely, but heaven-sent, screen pairing. That’s right, move over dead Mike, whoever you were, and step aside Chris Tucker! Chan’s partner throughout the bulk of The Protector is in fact friggin’ Danny Aiello, and the sumbitch has an Uzi! This spectacular turn of events alone makes The Protector an absolute must-see, never mind the absurd amounts of gratuitous nudity and vulgarity the film relentlessly spews at its audience. Of course, there is an alternate cut of the film that’s much lighter on the nudity and vulgarity, and this is actually Jackie Chan’s personal cut of the picture for Chinese audiences. Chan’s cut also appears on this disc, and offers a much better-paced, if less absurdly funny, viewing experience. Of course, I should note that the alternate cut appears here in standard definition and dubbed in Cantonese with English subtitles.

Additional special features on this disc include interviews with both directors, theatrical trailers, and an unsubtitled, behind-the-scenes look at The Protector.

About the Author:

Jef is a writer and educator in Chicago, Illinois. He holds a degree in Media & Cinema Studies from DePaul University, but sometimes he drops it and picks it back up again. He's also the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com and is fueled entirely by coffee (as if you couldn't tell).
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