Review: CITY HUNTER 城市獵人 (1993) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Friday, 11 May 2012

Review: CITY HUNTER 城市獵人 (1993)

Review: CITY HUNTER 城市獵人 (1993)

In this live-action adaptation, Ryu Saeba (or Mang Bo in Cantonese) is a private eye whose major targets in his easygoing lifestyle are babes and burgers. One day he is assigned to a case to locate a wealthy magnate's runaway daughter, Kiyoko (Kumiko Goto). However, he is also entrusted to care for his dead partner, Makimura's (Michael Wong, in a cameo appearance) beautiful cousin Kaori (Joey Wong), with the promise will not seduce her at all. When Kaori has a crush on Ryu and is jealous of his womanising behaviour, she runs off with her cousin onboard of an ocean liner. Ryu chooses to abandon his case and follows her instead. Coincidentally, Kiyoko also happens to be aboard the same ship and so is a gang of ruthless killers planning to hijack the place. Apart from them, there is a sexy female crime-fighter, Saeko (Chingmy Yau) and her assistant who has their plan to stop the hijackers. Then there's a gambler named Tramp Kao Ta (Leon Lai), whose deck of cards are lethal enough to be used as a weapon. Once the hijackers manage to take over the ship, it's up to Ryu to save the day by battling the hijackers and of course, the criminal mastermind himself, MacDonald (Richard Norton).

REVIEW: The enormously popular Japanese manga/anime CITY HUNTER gets a big screen treatment from Hong Kong's sleaziest and hardest-working filmmaker, which is none others than Wong Jing. If fans are expecting a faithful live-action adaptation of the same name, forget all about it because Wong Jing has alienated most of its manga's origin and comes up with his own version that is nothing more than a pure schlock. And here's the most shocking factor of all -- Jackie Chan plays the handsome playboy/private detective Ryu Saeba! That is a total blasphemy to the fans!

Jackie Chan, who already starting to get older, is obviously looking for a change of pace to slow down his usual death-defying stunts. So he chooses to act in CITY HUNTER, and director Wong Jing seems to be a perfect fit for the tone of the movie since he is no stranger to wildly over-the-top and anything-goes action comedy. Both Chan and the director are working hard to aim their movie for the Japanese market. They even featured a host of Japanese actors, including model Goto.

Whatever it is, CITY HUNTER is a mess. Even fans of Jackie Chan's movies will be mostly disappointed by his sleazy approach and frankly, it's plain embarrassing. Chan may be likeable when comes to his comic personality, but he is totally miscast as Ryu Saeba. The stunt works are mostly camera tricks than the real thing. If that's not insulting enough, Chan's would-be memorable fight sequences against both Gary Daniels (filmed in STREET FIGHTER II arcade game mode, which also sees Chan himself cross-dressing as Chun Li!) and Richard Norton are more of spoofing around. The plot is largely incoherent, plain ridiculous and pure juvenile.

No wonder CITY HUNTER was both box office flops in Hong Kong and Japan. Reportedly, Jackie Chan wasn't happy with the way Wong Jing worked in this movie and resulted in an ugly fallout. As a result, Wong Jing was so angry that he took his "vengeance" and gone as far as spoofing (and also meant to taint) Jackie Chan's image in 1995's HIGH RISK.

Wong Jing's big screen adaptation of CITY HUNTER is nothing but a sleazy mess featuring a totally miscast Jackie Chan as Ryu Saeba and story element that pays little respect to the manga's origin.

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