Review: HEART OF DRAGON 龍的心 (1985) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Review: HEART OF DRAGON 龍的心 (1985)

Review: HEART OF DRAGON 龍的心 (1985)

HEART OF DRAGON focuses on the relationship between former SWAT officer and current Criminal Investigation Division (CID) agent Tat (Jackie Chan) and his older, mentally-challenged brother Danny (Sammo Hung). For a long while, Tat has been dreaming of becoming a sailor and gets his wish granted when he finally received a letter of approval. In order to fulfil his dream, he decided to step up and marry his longtime girlfriend, Jenny (Emily Chu) so she can take care of Danny while he's out at the sea. When Danny heard about Tat is about to go away, he threatened to kill himself because he figures Tat wants to dump him for good (much to what Danny's younger friends has said to him). Tat becomes frustrated and sick of the heavy burden he's been carrying all along, urging Danny to grow up and be independent for once. So Danny goes out to look for a job, only to be humiliated and ridiculed in the end. To make things worst, Danny gets himself unexpectedly involved with stolen diamonds, where he and his younger friends are playing cops-and-robbers game and inadvertently scares off a runaway criminal Cho Yee Fat (Chung Fat) into ditching his bag of diamonds. Cho's boss, Mr Kim (James Tien) suspects Cho of keeping the good for himself and sends his men to finish him off. Cho manages to escape and seeks protection from the cops, where he agrees to testify and helping them to nail down Mr Kim and his gang. Of course, everyone eventually discovers that Danny is responsible for the missing stolen diamonds. When Danny gets captured by the bad guys, Tat must take them down at all cost and saves his brother.

REVIEW: Possibly the most underrated of all Jackie Chan movies, HEART OF DRAGON marked a surprise departure for both Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung where the action takes a backseat in favour for a poignant drama. Nevertheless, it was a bold move for these two action superstars known primarily for nothing more other than watching them kicking butts.

Prior to this movie, critics had been long accused that Jackie Chan's movies were all about action and no acting and so, it is understandable that Jackie Chan wanted to prove himself more than what he's actually capable of. Despite all the radical changes, the movie remains noteworthy enough for both Jackie Chan's and Sammo Hung's acting showcase. High credits go to Jackie Chan, who is daring enough to shed off his good-guy image and plays a flawed and complex portrayal of a selfish Tat who is tired of his responsibility and desperately looking for an easy way out. Same goes to Sammo Hung, who may seem awkward playing a role that doesn't require him to fight at all. However, he does a convincing job portraying a sympathetic and mentally-challenged person.

Barry Wong's screenplay is a mixed result, with the first half being overly melodramatic and the final hour is all about non-stop action showcase. Such odd mix doesn't really work well together, but there are few genuine moments like the one where Tat has finally had enough and let out all his emotions to Danny; and another one where the owner of a restaurant (Wu Ma) takes advantage of Danny's mental condition to humiliate him in front of the people.

The overall drama here is reasonably heartfelt, while the action scenes are reasonably top-notch. The final 10-minute action set-piece at the construction building site is particularly well-framed with fluid and often dramatic camerawork. Fighting scenes are superbly choreographed that it's a relief for fans out there eagerly awaited to watch Jackie Chan in a full action mode. No doubt the scene itself deserved to be nominated for Best Action Design at the Hong Kong Film Awards.

Co-star Sammo Hung also received a nod for Best Director, as well as Best Actor for Jackie Chan and Best Original Film Score for Lam Man-Yi. The movie only bagged the Best Original Song win for its heartbreaking tune, "Sui Hoh Seung Yi", which is performed by So Noi.

HEART OF DRAGON is a refreshing change of pace for both Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung where the movie works fine as a combination of heartfelt drama and well-choreographed martial art showcase.

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