Sunday, 31 May 2015


The first thing that sprung to mind whilst watching Armour of God was, "Crikey, look how young Jackie Chan is". Obviously it has been way too long since I watched the world's number one action-star at his prime. 

Jackie plays The Asian Hawk, a bounty hunter and martial arts expert with an insatiable appetite for adventure. Jackie is blackmailed into acquiring the Amour of God, a mysterious artifact from the Dark Ages, which holds the key to infinite power. Basically, a hokey plot device that allows Jackie to unleash his wondrous box of tricks.

The second thing that sprung to mind whilst watching Armour of God was, "Crikey, this is actually quite violent for a Jackie Chan picture". The opening act is all over the place. Violent shootings, bloody murder, slapstick comedy and wooden performances compete for your undivided attention. 

It's not until the second act that things calm down, and in between the generous helping of action sequences, Armour of God falls prey to weak character traits, casual racism, mild misogyny and unwelcome romance - none of which are that uncommon in 80s Jackie fare.

However, the action sequences are exhilarating, especially when Jackie puts himself in harms way. Chan was hospitalised during the shooting of this film when a stunt went wrong. As luck would have it, you too can relive that terrifying moment as the outtakes roll. Not only do they show Chan being taken away on a stretcher, but they also show the accident which rendered him unconscious. 

Jackie's dedication to his profession has never been in question but Armour of God is not the best example of his colourful career. From an action perspective Armour of God really does hit the spot, but as a movie experience it feels dated and mildly insulting.  But, oh boy, that action...

The 1991 sequel, coming four years after the original adventure, shares all the same hallmarks of part one. The action sequences remain essential viewing but the plotting is awkward and the casual racism, though completely innocent I'm sure, will make you wince from time to time. 

This time around, The Asian Hawk is having more than his fair share of adventures. Near the end of World War II, Nazi Germany was on the brink of defeat so they hid their gold in a secret fortress in the Sahara Desert. The United Nations want the stolen gold recovered and Jackie Chan is the man for the job. 

Joining him on the adventure are three attractive co-stars. Carol Cheng is the token map expert. Eva Cobo deGarcia is the granddaughter of Adolf, the guy who hoarded the Nazi gold, and Ikeda Shoko completes the line-up as a Japanese traveller who sells handmade crafts for a living. As you do.

This is very much business as usual for Armour of God fans, and once again Jackie excels in the action stakes. Fans of the first film will find plenty to enjoy, not least the classic showdown in a wind tunnel, but they'll be forced to endure some casual racism, underwritten co-stars, weak plotting and slapstick humour along the way. 

But hey, it's not like I'm telling you anything you don't already know. Overlook the 'harmless' stereotypes and Operation Condor sure has its moments. Jackie has made better movies but when it comes to thumping action sequences, the Armour of God series provides some of his finest work. 

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