Dragons Forever (1988)

D: Sammo Hung
S: Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung

Entertaining martial arts action comedy from director Sammo Hung. Respectable attorney Jackie Chan (The Young Master) is hired by a sinister factory owner to defend him against claims of pollution from a local (female) fish farmer. Jackie enlists the help of nutcase cat burglar Yuen Biao (who constantly spouts communist diatribes) to spy on her and has con man Sammo romance her at the same time. Gradually Jackie learns he's on the wrong side, and after a series of spectacular battles with thugs and underlings, faces off against the boss and his brutal sidekick, the latter of whom happens to be Benny Urquidez (with whom Chan fought an epic battle in the previous Wheels on Meals).

Fast paced and nicely shot, Hung's film is a delight for fans of the genre. It combines humour, well-meaning but slightly tongue-in-cheek drama and balletic martial arts, all filtered though the infectious personality of its star. Chan is on top form, pulling off some eye-popping leaps, kicks and tumbles, especially in a showstopping scene on board a luxury yacht. Hung and Biao also commit themselves well, though the latter is not given quite so large a part. There are also a couple of bust-ups involving all three, which will delight their faithful admirers. Hung directs with a good eye for physical movement, and with rapid-fire editing and explosive stunts, the film generates great energy.

There is even a touch of the surreal as Jackie makes constant attempts to dine the beautiful cousin of the fish farm owner only to be interrupted by various violent melees of which she is largely unaware. It brings to mind The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, and though it lacks Buñuel's anger, and the film is not meant to be approached with such seriousness, it does add to the fun.

Review by Harvey O'Brien copyright 1999.