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In the course of his long and busy career Jackie Chan has, like any auteur worth his salt, made attempts at pushing the boundaries of his chosen genre. Chan has often done an admirable job — as one of the most influential movie stars in the world, he's arguably done more to promote Hong Kong films than anyone, and he has stretched the limits of chop-sockey to make it accessible to audiences everywhere. But Frank Capra he ain't. Or Francis Ford Coppola for that matter. 1989's Miracles (aka Mr. Canton and Lady Rose, Black Dragon, and Miracles: The Canton Godfather) is Chan's light-comedy homage to Capra's Pocketful of Miracles and American gangster flicks. Lovingly filmed with an impressive eye for period details, Miracles is, unfortunately, done in by a boneheadedly stupid plot and inept scripting. Which is a shame, because Jackie looks very cool in the clothes. The setting is 1930s Hong Kong. Chan plays a poor fellow from the country who can't find a job in the big, bad city. After spending the last of his money on a rose from a street vendor who promises that the flower will give him good luck, Chan falls in with a group of gangsters who — due to a miscommunication with their dying boss — make him the head of their gang. Chan battles with a rival gangster, falls for the singer in his nightclub, helps the rose vendor pretend to be wealthy when her daughter comes to visit and, naturally, has a handful of impressive fights along the way. All of which sounds charming, but in execution is poorly realized and tedious in the extreme. Not to say there aren't a few bright spots. As mentioned, the film is lovely to look at — the sets and costumes are rich, colorful and faithful to a campy circa-1930's Hollywood ideal. Chan puts his fedora on with such a flourish that it continues to impress even though he does it, like, 20 times in the course of the film. And Chan's action sequences are as impressive as ever — especially a tea-house fight that involves ingenious use of a spiral staircase and a final showdown in a rope factory — although they're undercut by unfortunate use of stock music gleaned from other sources. Unfortunately, Jackie Chan's prodigious skills just aren't as awe-inspiring when accompanied by an incongruous hillbilly hoe-down fiddle tune. Go figure. Columbia TriStar's DVD edition of Miracles features a good, if not spectacular, transfer from a source print that is showing some color fading, with audio in DD 5.1. Chan-fans and film purists will be glad to know there's no English dubbing here — the language options are Cantonese or Mandarin, with English, French or Spanish subtitles. Theatrical trailers, keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor

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