I don’t know if I could rightfully call myself a fan of Jackie Chan, having not seen too many of his films, and even fewer of his Chinese pictures. That said, I still know from reputation what Chan puts himself through for his films, and I have massive respect for the man. Project A, Part II is the sequel to Jackie’s Project A (go figure), bringing back the character of Dragon Ma to fight for the law once again. As someone who hasn’t seen the original Project A, I can say that I wasn’t too lost starting into this one; there were references to the first film, but they were reintroduced so new viewers wouldn’t be confused. Even with the fact that it was a sequel, I still got a lot out of it, and though it lagged at times, when it was up, it was really entertaining.
Dragon Ma, played by Chan himself, is transferred into one of the roughest divisions of the Hong Kong police to try and do some good in the corruption-and-crime-ridden city. Unfortunately, he runs afoul of the district superintendent, Chun, when he won’t bend to the rampant bribery and corruption the rest of the officers, Chun included, are game with. Ma ends up one man against the system, with the help of a small group of loyal policemen he brings over during his transfer, as well as dealing with a group of revolutionaries who want to recruit him to their cause, and a gang of pirates (from the first film) looking for revenge against Ma for killing their leader. Honestly, that plot summary was about all I could cobble together; the plot was rather hard to follow, and seemed to try to be more multifaceted than it could control or reign in. There’s a number of subplots that all deal with the main plot that I didn’t get into, for instance, but even if I were able to keep it all straight, I’d be running the rest of this review just laying it all out. But, this is Jackie Chan, and we pretty much don’t normally watch a Jackie Chan film for the plot; we watch it for the blending of action and comedy, and in this, Project A 2 succeeds with gusto. For those who only know Chan from the Rush Hour films, for instance, imagine one of the fight scenes from those films, where Chan is flipping and kicking all over the room, using the elements of the room itself in the action sequences as a form of evolved pseudo-slapstick. Well, that sort of action sequence is actually what Chan is known for, and Project A 2 is chock full of these sequences, and they’re a wonder to watch, especially when you stop to remind yourself that it is all done completely for real, down to the stunts and falls that Chan does all himself. The other notable aspect is the production design, which while providing a myriad of set elements for Chan and the actors/stuntmen to work off of, is also nicely eclectic to the eyes as well.
Now, I haven’t gone into the print of the film I saw, which was unfortunately dubbed over in English, and quite poorly, to the point that I found myself laughing at certain elements, such as the inexplicable worldly accents like British and Cockney that the voiceover actors felt they needed to use. But, aside from mentioning it just now, I didn’t want to hold that against the film itself, since it was very likely not the filmmaker’s fault the dub was so lousy. I tried not to let it affect my assessment of the film too much, but I knew it inevitably would even to a small degree. I don’t know how much better the film would have been in its native Cantonese, but if possible, I’d advise seeking it out in that format if you can. And, especially, I would definitely say to seek it out if you’re not accustomed to Chan and his films (aside from his semi-popular American fare); at the very least, the action sequences will be worth the watch.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10