Criterion just put eight Jackie Chan films on the Criterion Channel (possibly the best looking of all the streaming channels out there). With the world being horrible, I thought a look at one of action cinema’s sweeter onscreen personas had a pleasing ring to it. I wish I could include all eight films, but there are only five days of the week. Right now, anyway.
Today’s Film: MY LUCKY STARS
This is a goofy-ass comedy and the greater nuance of its plot eludes me. It begins with Jackie Chan and his partner Yuen Biao chasing two Yakuza at an amusement park. Biao gets abducted so Chan gets help from the Five Lucky Stars, a group of idiotic wackos led by Sammo Hung, to help. Eventually they do - mostly Sammo Hung does - but first they have to fuck around being goofy for an hour, with a rather obnoxious amount of time dedicated to sexually harassing their female liaison, Baby. It’s not a woke film, even by 1985 standards.
MY LUCKY STARS is the second in a series of films that I imagine are all filled with slapstick nonsense. I enjoyed the film a lot, but it’s a curious entry for Criterion’s Jackie Chan slate. Bolo Yeung is in it for a second, for all you BLOODSPORT fans.
Chan’s Mental Age:
First of all, Jackie Chan is not in the film a whole lot. He opens it and then disappears until the one-hour mark. They even do the thing where he has a fight while wearing a mask, so it’s probably not Jackie Chan at all.
The Five Lucky Stars stuff is pretty fun so you don’t think you miss him. But then he shows up and you feel the bask of a real movie star. Even if he is wearing the worst pair of jeans I’ve ever seen, he just brightens up the screen.
Because the film isn’t focused on Chan, and because he offers a role of professional stability next to a group of goofballs, I’m putting Chan at 30 here. It’s nice to finally see him in a modern setting. This film doesn’t do a ton with it, but modern times match Chan. The clothes look more natural on him and it gives him more things to jump off of and/or use as weapons.
I don’t want my praise for Jackie Chan to overshadow how much I like Sammo Hung, who far and away has the film’s best fight. Chan does some good stuff, even if he offers little more than a cameo, but Hung has a fight with an eye-patched villain near the end that takes the cake. It’s not about flashy moves, either. Hung is just fun to watch. Obviously, his persona builds around being overweight. Though he’s honestly not all that heavy, his body does lend weight to his moves, which is then elevated by how remarkably fast he is. It’s a lot of fun to watch him go nuts on someone.
Chan tosses a boiling tea kettle at a bad guy, who catches it and immediately tosses it to his partner, severely burning them both. There’s another really fun bit where Chan fights two villains in an upside down room and uses a table stuck to the ceiling to his advantage in a cool way.
Second Biggest Badass:
I’m afraid Chan is the second biggest badass in this one. Sammo Hung is the first.
The film opens with Chan climbing all around a Ferris wheel, which is pretty nuts. But I was more impressed with a move which sees him somehow tumbling UP a set of stairs while avoiding blows from an opponent. The guy is amazing.