Armour of God
Always looking to reinvent his persona during
the 1980's, Jackie wanted to do something that was both larger and more
international than any of his previous films. He settled on a character
Asian Hawk who was to some degree based on Indiana Jones an adventurer
and treasure hunter but in a modern day setting.
Though the film is interesting in a number
of ways, it also has its share of problems. There are a few excellent action
set pieces but there is also a large amount of time that takes place
during the middle of the film in which very little of interest happens.
The main weakness of the film though is the total lack of chemistry between
Jackie and his co-stars. The presence of Sammo or Yuen or even Maggie Cheung
is very much missed in this film. Instead Jackie relies primarily on Alan
Tam, but Tams character gets increasingly annoying as the film goes on.
Still the beginning and end action set pieces are a great deal of fun and
make this if not one of Jackies better films still one that should
Almost like a Bond film, it begins with a terrific
prelude as Jackie steals The Sword of God from an African tribe and escapes
with some fabulous somersaults thrown in by bobsledding down a steep
hill with the tribe in close pursuit. It was during this opening sequence
when Jackie jumps onto a tree in which one of his most serious accidents
(brain hemorrhage) took place and the movie was brought to a stop for quite
a while (the accident is shown in the outtakes).
It turns out that this sword is one of the five
pieces of the Armor of God antiquities from the Crusades and a religious
cult wants to appropriate all five in hopes that it will give them immense
powers. To force Jackie to help them, they kidnap his ex-girlfriend, Rosamund
Kwan, in a surprisingly bloody shootout. Jackie was once part of a band
along with Rosamund and Alan Tam called The Losers (a play on Tams real
group, The Wynners) and she chose Tam over Jackie. Still, Tam gets Jackie
to agree to help rescue Rosamund. Along for the adventure is also Lola
Forner (the pickpocket in Wheels on Meals) as a rich girl whose father
owns three pieces of the Armor of God.
Other than a decent motorcycle/car chase though
the film wanders around for quite a while waiting for something to happen.
Jackie definitely needed to add something to the middle section to spice
it up as we get little but Alan Tam whining about everything and some adolescent
romantic complications (Jackie playing coy with Lola). Tam at times almost
single-handedly makes this film difficult to watch. Nothing against Tam
per se just that his character is someone that badly needs a kick in
All the waiting proves worthwhile as the finale
of the film is a twenty-minute action fest with some excellent choreographed
fighting with Jackie against a large number of monks and then in a classic
fight against four savage black Amazon female fighters wearing deadly
stiletto high heeled shoes. This really is a bizarre action scene
as these muscular women (or transvestites?) all clad in body fitting
leather deliver some amazingly swift kicks and batter Jackie around for
a while. Finally, the film ends with Jackie jumping from high up on a cliff
onto the top of a hot air balloon. I am not sure what to make of this ending
a great stunt but anti-climatic in a way and the way it is edited
makes it difficult to determine whether that was really Jackie jumping.
Though this film is considered a classic by some,
I didnt find it nearly as exhilarating as some of his earlier films such
as Police Story or Project A. There is an overall lack of rhythm to the
film, a real stop and go feeling to it. I don't know how much of this was
due to the delays caused by Jackies injury (check out how his hair length
changes through the film) or to the fact that Jackie took over the director
reins from Eric Tsang a third of the way through. And the poor chemistry
and dull dialogue between the characters make the lack of action much more
noticeable than in a film such as Wheels on Meals that also had only a
few action scenes.
As a small point of trivia the Singers in the
film were listed as Carina Lau, Kenny Bee, Clarence Fok and Anthony Chan
and the assistant director was Stanley Kwan who was to direct Rouge the
The version released in the US was actually
released as Operation Condor II even though it was made four years before
the sequel. This was because the sequel was released first in the States.
I didn't notice any significant cuts in the American version - a bit more
of The Losers singing, a short dream sequence from Jackie and a fairly
big section after they rescue Rosamund and she tries to seduce Jackie.
I am not sure why this was cut - but it doesn't really effect the film.
My rating for this film: 6.5