First Strike (1996)
Reviewed by: dragyn on 2001-03-31
Summary: Jackie Does James Bond
"First Strike" is certainly enjoyable; but how can any action-packed film set in Russia fail to be that? However, it is really only Chan's ebullient, energetic presence that saves the film from being entirely enjoyable, but eminently forgettable. He lifts the film from being another Hollywood-style cliche, to being a solid Hong Kong action flick, with stunts that will make all your friends gasp.

As with almost all Jackie Chan flicks, the plot is paper-thin, and if you happen to be unlucky enough to get the badly cut New Line VHS - forget it. Nothing will make sense at all. The charecterisation is similarly non-existent, with Chan playing the likeable, sympathetic befoon he plays most often on-screen - himself.

But really, that's not what matters; what matters is that Chan fights like no other, and does the kind of stunts that leave unaccustomed viewers in the usual "I've-just-seen-Jackie-Chan-perform-a-stunt" pose: they will perch on the edge of thier seat, and thier hands will hand limply by their sides; thier mouths will hand open, slcak-jawed, and thier eyes will pop out of their heads. In a whisper, they will say, "Did you see - ? Wha...I can't...I mean...did he really...?"

Then they will rewind to see the stunt again. And this movie will provide alot of that reaction; here (and nowhere else) we able to witness a man pushing forty hanging from the skids of a helicopter - and falling. Into a frozen lake. There are also fights underewater, encounters with sharks, and of course flights aplenty, all performed with Chan's trademark lighting-speed and energy.

Director Stanley Tong has been heard to say that with "First Strike", he hoped to create a Bond film starring Jackie Chan. He hits the mark, certainly; there is every Bond cliche imaginable in this movie, including Russia, plot twists, beautiful women in swim-wear, sharks, underwater scenes, and helicopters. However, it's never good to try and make a Bond film starring someone else, unless it's a spoof. "First Strike" doesn't have enough time to tell us whether it's a spoof or not - it's too busy with the action.

As with most Chan movies, leave your brain at the door and get ready for a wild ride.

(7/10)