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the pathetic caverns - movies by title - Operation Condor

eclectic reviews and opinions

Operation Condor

1990 (1997 US), D:Jackie Chan; S:Jackie Chan & Edward Tang

Operation Condor is a newly dubbed version of Chan's Armour of God II, released theatrically to capitalize on Chan's recent U.S. successes with films like Supercop and First Strike. It grossed an unspectacular ten and a half million.dollars or so, but costs for the dubbing and promotion, and the glitzy new soundtrack can't have been all that much, and I bet it broke even before it got to video. What's a little surprising -- and heartening -- to me is that U.S. audiences are willing to tolerate such a large degree of deliberate silliness in an action film.

Like Armour of God (I), "Condor"'s plot is very Raiders of the Lost Ark influenced. There's an unrelated opening sequence in an ancient temple with hostile, spear-hurling natives, and the plot revolves around the search for a buried Nazi fortress filled with gold.

But the plot doesn't really matter -- it's all an excuse for Jackie Chan to do what he does best: absolutely jaw-dropping stunts. There's one near the beginning in which Chan needs to get inside an iron gate with brick pillars on either side. It's not especially flashy, but it's also plainly not faked. He jumps up, bounces from one pillar to the other, like a human ping-pong ball, gaining altitude with each bounce, and lands lightly on the other side of the gate all in about a second. I watched that scene several times in a row.

That's not all you get, stuntwise, of course. There's a pretty impressive chase sequence with Chan on a motorbike and bad guys galore in identical matte black cars, and kung fu action galore in a hotel and in the mysterious Nazi base.

Throughout, Chan displays the humor and charm that put him, for me, in a completely different class from most U.S. action movie stars. Even the most dramatic of the fight scenes have enough space in them for moments of broad physical comedy that reminds me of no one so much as Charlie Chaplin. And while some bullets do fly (perhaps not as fast as the fists and the feet) no one seems to get, y'know, seriously dead which gives the flick a much kinder, gentler, feel than its Hollywood counterparts, or, for that matter, John Woo's stuff.

I do wish Miramax had done a better job on the dub, though it was pretty lame in a lot of places.

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