Mr. Nice Guy (1997)
Reviewed by: Darryl on 1999-12-21
What a relief! Jackie dumps the droll ego-stroking of the abysmal THUNDERBOLT and the so-so FIRST STRIKE for a return to his roots, kind-of. The film is fast and funny, something Jackie used to supply in his early directorial pieces like DRAGON LORD and PROJECT A, and I think Chan actually trusted bigger "brother" Samo because the long, plodding nonsense that mucked up THUNDERBOLT, which Jackie had a hand in directing, is gone, and let's face it, Chan's best films in the 90s are not directed by him or his "puppet" directors. Look back and you'll see, Samo brought the best out of Jackie, and he does so here, but let's not be selfish -Chan's entering his mid forties and anyone expecting the fresh-faced antics of PROJECT A or POLICE STORY should get a clue. Jackie shines in several of the fights, and in the asian cut he lends a bit of his "funny face" for fine comedic moments (like batteling mob thugs while a trash can he's been stuffed into stays on his butt!), and the chemistry between Jackie and the gwaillo actresses lends itself to good comedy. Hung's always been keen on strong female characters, and his influence is evidenced here, where Chan's pseudo misogynistic side is quelled. Oddly, Lee Ching Yee is the biggest fault of the movie. She's thrown in the mix to please the local audience, does nothing but act like a primadonna and put a halt in quite a bit of the action as Jackie's token Chinese girlfriend (possibly quell the white New Line suits who can't handle Jackie shacking up with a black or white woman (such scenes were shot but cut). Lee's acting is prissy, stilted and downright annoying. It's rare that I hope a character is killed off, but I found myself wishing her character would just die (Perhaps she was Chan's choice)! Enough of the complaints - while there's no grand stunt set-up that made you think Jackie'd bite it, the action is well-orchestrated and inspired (like Jackie being tied up and held back by Richard Norton's thugs as though he's a puppet, but he fights anyway). Samo's cameo is a riot too. Not bad for 90s era chan, but let's face it, DRUNKEN MASTER 2 was his swan song to the martial arts and suprememly life-threatening stuntwork many grew to love (Chan almost broke his neck on this one though, having to wear a brace for a few weeks). Let's just hope the Synch-sound English version isn't mucked up by the hacks at New Line cinema....
Reviewer Score: 8