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I have great admiration for Jackie Chan, and especially the way he’s gained a good reputation for martial arts movies, for a mainstream audience. Recent films such as “Rush Hour 2” and “Shanghai Noon” demonstrate, I think, that he doesn’t take himself seriously, and can produce excellent and highly memorable footage, visually speaking. “Armour of the Gods” is an early movie, from 1987, and it’s in Cantonese with English subtitles. As usual with Jackie Chan movies, there are some excellent stunts – that’s really the only reason to see it though. The plot’s not wonderful – he plays an Indiana Jones type figure, on a quest to acquire the “Armour of God”, the baddies are a drug-dealing sect, dressed in monks’ outfits, and of course there’s a kidnapped female in there too. It is an obvious homage to the Indiana Jones genre, but I would say that it adds nothing to it. The opening scene, where an idol is taken away from hostile natives, is not only stolen from Indiana Jones – something like it has featured in a thousand similar movies. Visually it looks like a cheap TV series, with sets that look like they could have been used in 60s series like The Avengers or Jason King. The central character, played by Chan, is Asian Hawk, who used to sing in a band called The Losers. His co-singer (Alan Tam) and backing singer, Laura (played by Rosamund Kwan, who appeared in the Jet Li movie, Once Upon A Time in China) are the other main characters. Essentially, if you take away the action and slapstick kung fu, the movie is a romantic comedy, involving the on-off love affair between Asian and Laura. Laura is the one who gets kidnapped, as you might guess. The acting’s not up to much at all – the scene where Alan Tam is cornered by a group of evil monks is on a par with the standard you’d see at a school play - a
ll very unconvincing. I know we don’t have the luxury of hearing it in the original language, and that can make the acting seem even worse, but trust me - the acting is pretty bad. The fight scenes are fast and furious, and very inventive, with a fair bit of humour too. Ultimately, good fight scenes are not enough for me – simply because there’s never any doubt who’s going to win in the end. But then I’m not a martial arts movie fan, so maybe it’s just me. There’s a good scene towards the end, where Chan’s adversaries are 4 mean, stiletto-heeled Donna Summer look-alikes – this is so strange it may be worth checking the movie out for! The soundtrack has lots of synthesized cheesy pop – not very pleasant to listen to, and not at all atmospheric for that matter either. Chan’s tricks with chewing gum are rather impressive – bouncing it off a door and into his mouth, and slapping his hand to make it jump into his mouth. All the kids who’ve seen this must have practised and practised doing the same thing in their bedroom. Chan had a bad accident during the filming of “Armour of the Gods”– and if you stay around long enough to see the credits at the end, the accident is all on film. He fell 30 feet from a tree, and suffered a serious head injury. The man is clearly in a LOT of pain. It’s very macabre, including the documentary footage in this way (in the days before outtakes at the end became a usual feature). If you’re a fan of Jackie Chan, I’m sure you will have heard of this movie, and no doubt seen it already. Incidentally, there is also a sequel, called either “Armour of the Gods 2” or “Operation Condor”, depending on country of release. Otherwise, if you’re looking for an action movie, I can’t really recommend “Armour of the gods” at all. Too obvious
ly low-budget, very derivative, and only a few good stunts go anywhere redeeming the whole thing. Steer clear.