Review: THE PROTECTOR 威龍猛探 (1985) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Review: THE PROTECTOR 威龍猛探 (1985)

Review: THE PROTECTOR 威龍猛探 (1985)

Jackie Chan plays Billy Wong, a Chinese-American cop based in New York City. When his partner, Michael Alexander (Patrick James Clarke) is brutally gunned down by a gang of heavily-armed robbers planning to rob the bar, Billy manages to kill all of them> He proceeds by chasing the last robber on foot and later engaging in a speedboat pursuit, before finally finishing him off in an explosion. His police captain (Victor Arnold) is not pleased with Billy's reckless action and immediately reassigned him to crowd control. Soon after, Billy is assigned as an undercover to a glamorous fashion party with his new partner, Danny Garoni (Danny Aiello). Suddenly, a group of masked men crashes from the rooftop and kidnaps the head gangster, Martin Shapiro's (Ron Dandrea) daughter, Laura (Saun Ellis). Billy and Danny subsequently discover from a reliable source that Laura is taken away to Hong Kong for ransom. As they move to Hong Kong for further investigation, they also learn that a notorious drug lord Harold Ko (Roy Chiao) has something to do with Laura's kidnapping.


REVIEW: After his failed attempt to conquer US market in THE BIG BRAWL (1980), martial art star Jackie Chan attempts to give it a second try in a buddy-cop action thriller called THE PROTECTOR. However, like THE BIG BRAWL, the movie was a critical and box office disaster, making only a tepid US$981,817. The biggest problem is obviously due to James Glickenhaus' pedestrian direction, hackneyed script, erratic pace and above all, Jackie Chan is terribly underused here as an action star who is capable of performing greater stunts.

THE PROTECTOR was plagued with troubled production history even before its theatrical release. According to various sources, Jackie Chan and director James Glickenhaus had a terrible falling out for most of the production. Chan was particularly dissatisfied the way Glickenhaus directed the fight scenes. To make things right, he offered to direct the fight scenes himself but Glickenhaus refused. Chan was so upset that he walked off the set, but was forced to return and finished the movie since he had to fulfil his contractual obligation.

When the movie made its way for Hong Kong release, Chan took his opportunity to re-edit a large number of scenes to improve the pace, cut down the nudity and the profanity, add in a subplot featuring Sally Yeh and an extra scene featuring Bill Wallace engages in a fight outside the ice warehouse against Shaw Brothers veteran Lee Hoi-San in an uncredited role. Even the final fight scene between Chan and Wallace was re-edited to make it more of a fast-paced Hong Kong style.

I have watched THE PROTECTOR both original US version and HK version, and I must conclude that the US version was a disappointment. The HK version was slightly better, even though that hardly matters because whatever it is, THE PROTECTOR remains a disappointment for a Jackie Chan action vehicle. As mentioned earlier, Glickenhaus' direction lacks urgency and everything about this movie feel so dated and wearisome. The action is less engaging than what we usually come to expect from a typical Jackie Chan movie. Here, Jackie Chan is only reduced to a few fights and jumps but none of them quite made a lasting impression. His supposedly exciting final fight against the 23 time, middleweight world full-contact karate champion Bill Wallace in the warehouse is strangely lacklustre, regardless whether it's the slower pace of the US version or the faster rhythm of the HK version.

The cast is average at best, with Jackie Chan is looking awkward here with a terrible American accent. The only credit that deserved a praise goes to the ever-reliable Danny Aiello who provides much of the movie's comic relief.

Considering how bad and troubled THE PROTECTOR turned out to be, it was actually a blessing in disguise especially it prompted Jackie Chan to make his own version of a cop thriller back in Hong Kong that same year itself. And that movie in question was none others than POLICE STORY.

A disappointing Hong Kong and US co-production, THE PROTECTOR is a dated yet pedestrian action thriller that fails to capitalise Jackie Chan's true potential as a bona fide action star.

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