[box cover]

Heart of Dragon

Heart of Dragon (1985) is one of those unfortunate Jackie Chan outings in which the action star indulged his desire to make a deeper sort of film with, you know, an actual plot. Directed by Sammo Hung, this bizarre curiosity is a sort of Hong Kong Dominick and Eugene, with Jackie playing a cop saddled with the care of his retarded adult brother (played by Sammo!) and putting off his marriage-minded girlfriend (Emily Chu). A good two-thirds of the film are devoted to Jackie moving up from the police force to the Criminal Investigative Division — but dreaming of chucking it all to sail the world as a merchant marine — and watching the supposedly heart-warming (but really sort of creepy) antics of Sammo as brother Danny, who hangs out with a crowd of local children and cries a lot. The martial-arts stunts that one comes to Chan's films to see are few and far between, and one lengthy sequence with the staff of a restaurant beating Danny senseless before he nearly dies after taking refuge in the kitchen's freezer is just plain unpleasant to sit through. The actual plot kicks in about an hour into the movie when Danny, playing cops-and-robbers with his young pals, is mistaken for a policeman by a thief and snags a satchel full of jewels. This leads to some fairly dumb complications with bad guys (played by a crowd of recognizable HK supporting actors) and the final 25 minutes is an extended fight scene (finally!) on a construction site that ends with a jaw-droppingly surreal/impressive stunt involving grenades — and stuntmen (and/or dummies) dropping several stories from an exploding office building. Overall, Heart of Dragon is one of Jackie's worst films, a movie that tries to cover too many bases by combining sodden melodrama with dumb comedy and a paltry few chop-socky scenes. That there's a lengthy car-and-motorcycle chase a little more than halfway through the film illustrates how off-the-mark this movie is — nobody, but nobody, watches a Jackie Chan flick to see Jackie drive a car. Fox's DVD is digitally remastered and, bad as the movie is, it looks great, virtually spotless with rich, saturated color. The sound (Dolby Digital 5.1 surround in Chinese or dubbed English DTS, with English subtitles available) also is very good, layering campy-loud fight effects over a truly awful score that consists of two themes — "uh-oh, something serious is happening" stings and the chirpy, upbeat "Danny's retarded" tune — and a couple of syrupy pop songs. Two trailers, one for the original theatrical release (in Chinese, without subtitles) and one for the DVD, are included, plus a couple of deleted fight scenes. Presented without context and accompanied by furious synth-pop, these offer a chance to see the action sequences that are so sorely missing from the movie's plodding second act. Keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor

Back to Quick Reviews Index: [A-F] [G-L] [M-R] [S-Z]

Back to Main Page