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Thunderbolt
Year: 1995
That's really Jackie Chan. Honest!
Director: Gordon Chan Car-Seung
Action: Sammo Hung Kam-Bo, Corey Yuen Kwai
Cast: Jackie Chan, Anita Yuen Wing-Yee, Michael Wong Mun-Tak, Thorsten Nickel, Chor Yuen, Chin Kar-Lok, Annie Man Chung-Han, Ken Lo Wai-Kwong, Dayo Wong Chi-Wah, Shing Fui-On, Corey Yuen Kwai, Timmy Hung Tin-Ming, Tuan Wai-Lun, Kenya Sawada, Paul Rapouski,Ailen Sit Chun-Wai, Bruce Law Lai-Yin, Sam Wong Ming-Sing, Peter Yung Kam-Cheong, Yuzo Kayama, Marie Eguro, Michael Ian Lambert
The Skinny: Schizophrenic Jackie Chan movie that makes not a lick of sense, but actually manages to be entertaining. The fight sequences are top notch.
Review
by Kozo:
     Jackie Chanís race car opus ranks as the most expensive film in HK history, and it more or less shows. Here's the setup: Jackie Chan is Foh, part-time mechanic, part-time car racer, and full time kung-fu brooder. Thanks to your Jackie Chan film circumstances, Foh is forced to fight and race, and against a verbally-challenged Aryan, no less.
     Said evil Aryan is Cougar (Thorsten Nickel), who Foh fingers in the hit-and-run of a traffic cop. However, Cougar kidnaps Foh's sisters and threatens to kill them unless Foh races against him in Japan. So...Foh goes to race in Japan. Anita Yuen provides support as Amy, the spunky reporter hot on Fohís story. And, Michael Wong continues to mix Cantonese and English as Steve Cannon, dashing Interpol Agent.
     The story of Thunderbolt is silly even by Jackie Chan standards. Only in a Jackie Chan film could a guy use kung-fu, fight crime, race cars, and still maintain his day job as a mechanic. The bad guys in this movie are supremely bad, though no reasons are given. The script consists of hackneyed platitudes which sound awful when spoken in English, Japanese or Cantonese (all which are featured in the film). That the acting is substandard only adds to the idiocy. And, Jackie Chan broods throughout the entire film, never once providing us with a glimpse of his generous comic persona. With all these negatives, can they actually make a decent movie here?
     Surprisingly, the answer is yes. Despite all of the above, Thunderbolt proves to be entertaining action fluff. This is partially due to the racing sequences, which switch between entertaining and downright boring. The initial Hong Kong street chase is exciting and well-done, though the final race sequence is as exciting as knitting.
     The regular beat-em-up action is tops, though. Jackie Chan brings us some of his most energetically staged action set pieces that blow away anything that happened in Rumble in the Bronx. The highlight here must be the pachinko parlor blowout which features Chan versus bodyguard Ken Lo and Japanese action star Kenya Sawada. It's an incredibly choreographed action sequence that rivals anything Chan has ever done.
     Credit Gordon Chan for the straight-up police action sequences, which echo his work in The Final Option. Still, they're just another example of the salad bowl that is Thunderbolt. Chan's gunfights don't really mesh with Sammo Hung and Corey Yuen's fight sequences, and Jackie Chan's control-freak tendencies probably got in the way big time. Add to that foreign locations, lousy Caucasian actors, Anita Yuen's cute but jarring performance, and Michael Wong's usual space-wasting, and it's a wonder that a movie - much less a fun one - was even put together. It happened though, so everybody rejoice; they managed to save this one. This isn't really a step up for Jackie Chan, but after Drunken Master II not much really could be. (Kozo 1995/1996)
Availability: DVD (USA)
Region 1 NTSC
New Line Home Video
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen / Full Screen
International Language Track / English dubbed
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English subtitles

image courtesy of Mei Ah Laser Disc Co., Ltd.

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