The Spy Next Door (2010)


Country: United States
Director: Brian Levant
Starring: Jackie Chan, Amber Valletta, Madeline Carroll, Will Shadley, Alina Foley, Magnús Scheving, Billy Ray Cyrus
Music: David Newman

I blame Arnold Schwarzenegger and the film Kindergarten Cop for all the ‘tough-guys with kids’ films. Since then we’ve had Vin Diesel as The Pacifier, The Rock as The Tooth Fairy, and many, many more – now we have Jackie Chan as The Spy Next Door. The problem though, is that Jackie was never really a tough guy, and many of his films are family friendly, so dumbing down even further seems almost redundant.

The biggest problem with the film is Jackie, himself. Look, I love Jackie’s movies, but he is pushing sixty years old, and for him to be playing this particular role at this stage of his life is ill-advised. The central conceit of the movie, is that Jackie falls in love with his neighbour, Gillian (Amber Valletta) and has to win over her kids. But just the age difference between Jackie, and the love of his life, makes the whole relationship seem rather stilted, and at times, verging on downright creepy! It probably doesn’t help matters either that the opening title sequence, features a montage of clips from Jackie’s previous spy film roles, some dating back to the 1980s.

Having said all that, The Spy Next Door is probably a better film than The Tuxedo or The Medallion, – but that isn’t saying much – and as a family film, it hits all the notes that it should, complete with an over-wrought misty-eyed ending.

Ultimately, if your a fan of Jackie, you can do better than this one. Unless you’ve got kids, I’d give it a miss.

The Spy Next Door (2010)

The Karate Kid (2010)

The Karate KidCountry: United States / China
Director: Harald Zwart
Starring: Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Taraji P. Henson, Wenwen Han, Rongguang Yu, Zhenwei Wang
Music: James Horner

I hate to admit it, but I am of that generation where the saying ‘wax on, wax off’ has a profound philosophical meaning to me. Yes I grew up watching The Karate Kid with Ralph Macchio. I saw it multiple times at the cinema, and then even more when available on video. Heck, I even went and saw Part II at the cinema. But I must have grown out of it by the third installment because I don’t think I have seen it – not even on video or television. I could be wrong here, but I believe the producers (or studio) tried to revive the franchise with The Next Karate Kid, which if I recall correctly had a young girl in it. Of course, I could go to IMDb and check the veracity of my statements, but it isn’t really necessary. My point is simply that The Karate Kid and its template about a bullied teenager learning respect and martial arts (not necessarily in that order) has been a potent one for twenty-five years. I am sure that the sporting and underdog element has been around even longer, maybe with the original Bad News Bears or something like that.

Now it’s this generation’s turn for The Karate Kid, and the ‘kid’ in question is Dre Parker, played by Jaden Smith (who as you already doubtlessly know, is the son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith). Much of the talk about this film has been rather negative towards the Smith family, saying that this is just a vanity project that Will and Jada, as executive producers, have put together for their son. Maybe, but does that matter? Films in general are ‘vanity’ pieces. Even when actors go to lengths to look ugly, mis-shapen and deformed, it is still a ‘vanity piece’ – they expect to be praised for the acting, risk taking and bravery. So mum and dad love their son – what’s the big deal!

However, I must admit there are one or two slightly creepy moments, where young Jaden as Dre, is probably more buff than any twelve year old has a right to be. That aside, Smith Jnr acquits himself rather well within the parameters of the screenplay – that is. he is either a cocky, arrogant brat, or crying from the beating (or humiliation) that has befallen him. However it is safe to assume, that at the end of the film, these negative traits are no longer with the character.

The real casting coup – as predictable as it may seem on the surface – is Jackie Chan in the mentor role of Mr. Han. Pat Morita, as Mr. Miyagi, in the first few films left such an indelible impression, that he was always going to be a very hard act to follow. Again going from memory, I think Morita was nominated for a Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the first film. So Jackie had big shoes to fill – and while known for his physical and acrobatic prowess, Jackie isn’t really known for his thesping skills.

But Jackie’s status as a martial arts superstar holds him in good stead and adds weight to the training sequences. Don’t watch this film if you are expecting to see Jackie in action (although he has one amusing scene where he has the bullies beat themselves up). In this film Jackie is there to teach, not to fight.

As the film opens, Dre and his mom, Sherry Parker (Taraji P. Henson) move to China. Sherry has a new job, and Dre is dragged along. He does not speak Chinese and has trouble fitting in. He soon befriends a young Chinese girl, Meiying (Wenwen Han), but this only brings him to the attention of a group of bullies. Dre ends up in a fight with the ring leader, only to find out very painfully, that he is a proficient kung-fu student. Dre cops quite a beating.

Later, somewhat foolishly Dre tries to get revenge by throwing a bucket of dirty, gresy water over the bullies. Naturally they respond by chasing him through the streets until they corner him in an alley, and six against one, begin to beat the living tar out of him. Before the incident gets truly ugly, the maintenance man from the block of apartments in which Dre is staying, intervenes. The maintenance man, Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) fends off the young bullies, and then takes the battered and bloodied Dre back to his shack to patch him up with some traditional Chinese medicine.

Dre, having seen the way Han warded off the bullies, asks the old man to teach him Kung-fu. Han refuses, suggesting that ‘there are no bad students, only bad teachers’. As an adjunct here, in my travels – as few as they may be – I have noticed that martial arts centres tend to market their training to the available audience. For example, in Melbourne, most centres advertise that they teach for ‘fitness, discipline and self-defense’. Whereas in Wollongong, which is (or was) pretty much an industrial town riding on the back of the BHP Steelworks, I saw an advertisement which read (spelling not withstanding) ‘Learn the devastating art of Muang Thai’ I don’t know about you, but to me the word ‘devastating’ suggests that this martial arts centre teaches its students how to destroy things and inflict as much pain as possible. Horses for courses, I guess?

Back to The Karate Kid. Han reluctantly agrees to go with Dre to the training centre where the bullies are being taught Kung-fu. However, instead of reaching an amicable agreement with the Sifu, Han ends up arranging for Dre to compete in an upcoming martial arts tournament. The deal is that the bullies will leave Dre alone until the contest. In the tournament, they then will have the opportunity to fight with him one on one. Now all that means is that Dre now has a very short time to learn Kung-fu before the tournament. And, of course, Han aggrees to teach him.

Stylistically (and even storywise), it is the training sequences which diverge from the original The Karate Kid. There is no ‘wax on, wax off’ which, despite any nostalgic affection I may have for the original, is actually a good thing. A repeat would almost certainly be cringe worthy (although I am not to sure that the subsitute is too effective). The thing here is that you’ve got Jackie Chan as Dre’s Sifu, why not use him? As Dre’s training moves towards its completion, Jackie’s acrobatics and physicality come more to the fore, especially when Dre and Han are practically joined at the hands by two bamboo rods – mirroring each others movements.

The tournament at the end is very well choreographed and the young actors involved are also able to convey the changing moods and attitudes of the characters as the tournament progresses – as well as smaking the tar out of each other. Their performances aren’t wooden, despite the ages of the actors involved, and it would appear that they were not chosen solely on the strength of their martial art ability.

However the film does have plenty of flaws and plot points that just don’t make sense, or at the very least are not explained properly. Like Dre’s schooling – is he sent to an International school? If so, why are there predominantly Chinese local students attending the school? Or if it is just a regular high school, how is Dre expected to learn when he doesn’t speak Chinese?

As was the case in the original, the resolution of the film is contrived and unbelievable too. But here, with the villainy of the bullies amplified to breaking point, the pat resolution is even more unconvincing. Not the fights scenes, but how the bullies suddenly have a change of attitude.

Despite any criticisms that could be levelled at this film, it is first and foremost a fat slice of family entertainment, particularly if you have teenage boys. Pointing out its flaws and shortcomings is a bit like stating that ‘Hippogriffs do not exist’. It’s all about going with the story – forget reality. The contrivances are there simply to make the story more entertaining, and there is nothing wrong with that.

The Karate Kid is solid entertainment based on a proven formula, with a hint of old fashioned travelogue thrown in as background, and with the bonus of a likeable cast. You could do worse.

The Karate Kid (2010)

Who Am I (1998)

Original Title: Wo shi shei
Country: Hong Kong
Director: Benny Chan / Jackie Chan
Starring: Jackie Chan, Michelle Ferre, Mirai Yamamoto, Ron Smerczak, Ed Nelson, Kane Kosugi
Music: Nathan Wang

I like Jackie Chan’s films. Sure there’s some stinkers in there, but generally over his career he has consistently entertained cinema audiences. Who Am I is not one of his great successes, but it isn’t a turkey either. It has some great sequences and the martial-arts showdown with two evil henchmen has been choreographed to within an inch of its life.

The story starts in a mine in South Africa, and two guys in diver’s suits crawl out of a pit of primordial ooze. As they are hosed off, one of them holds out a piece of a meteorite that he has extracted from the grimy depths. A small sample is taken from the meterorite and dropped into a metal canister. It is then spirited away in a jeep for analysis. In transit, the meteorite fragment becomes unstable and explodes, destroying the jeep.

So, like any good spy film, we now have a McGuffin – a fragment of meteorite – which is a source of extreme power. Naturally it is now wanted by many different parties. One of these parties happens to be the CIA, and they send a team into South Africa to find and retrieve the meteorite. Amongst the CIA extraction team, is one Special Agent Jackie Chan – in the English dub, Jackie uses his own name.

A flotilla of helicopters airlift Chan and his team into the jungle, where they set up a base, high in the canopies of the trees. When the un-named bad-guys begin to transport the remaining portions of the meteorite in a convoy of trucks, Chan and his team strike with a clean surgical precision. The mission is a success and CIA extraction team are congratulated and sent on leave. As they are transported by helicopter, the two pilots abandon the controls. They inform the crew that they have orders to ditch them – leave them to die in the crash. The first pilot parachutes out. Then as the second pilot jumps out, Jackie Chan rushes after him and grabs him by the legs. Chan, himself, is now dangling from the helicopter – two of the other extraction team members are holding his legs. Swaying back and forward, Chan tries to wrestle the parachute away from the pilot, but with no luck. The pilot slips free. As the helicopter spirals out of control towards the ground, Chan is shaken free, and falls into the dense forrest. He bounces from branch to branch, banging his head (and whole body), tumbling until he reaches the ground unconcious.

Chan wakes up in a native village. he has been patched up and will be okay. But he cannot remember how he got there . When the village chief asks Chan his name, he cannot recall and answers with the simple question ‘Who Am I?’ That natives, who do not speak English, assume that ‘Who Am I’ is his name and start to refer to him as such.

In time, after being assimulated by the tribe, Jackie is rescued by a cross country rally-driver who takes him back to civilisation (in fact it is Chan who does the rescuing – but that’s just semantics). Back in civilisation, Chan or ‘Who Am I’ as he is known, is back on the radar of the intelligence agencies, and naturally the bad guys assume he knows about their double cross and their theft of the meteorite. Of course, Chan doesn’t remember any of this, and simply wants to find out who he is, but the bad guys stir up a hornet’s nest when they push (and try to eliminate) Jackie.

Ther’s one silly sequence that I absolutely loved. The story moves to Rotterdam, and poor old Jackie is being chased through the streets by an army of henchmen who are determined to capture him. As the pursuit and running battle continues, Jackie finds himself without his shoes. In response he dons a pair of clogs from a souvenir vendor’s stall and continues his his fight with his pursuers. Now, I must admit I have never been kicked in the face by a martial artist. But if I was to be kicked, I would presume that the person attacking my personage would either be wearing some of kind of sporting shoe like a runner, or possibly (if they were a classy assailent) some leather dress shoes. In my lifetime I have never contemplated being kicked in the head with the pointy end of a wooden clog. I am sure such an attack would be devastating. But in the hands of Jackie Chan it is hilarious.

Obviously, a story that features a character with amnesia is going to be compared to The Bourne Identity – and fair enough too. But before I look at Who Am I in comparison with The Bourne Identity, I’d like to point out that this film was made four years before Matt Damon made Jason Bourne a household name. Of course though, before that there was the Richard Chamberlain mini-series and  Robert Ludlum’s book were all best sellers – so the plot point of an amnesiac was hardly dormant. In fact, the idea of an amnesiac spy tracing his past may be quite an old one in the history of modern thriller writing. Recently on The Debrief blogsite, Jeremy Duns posted a fascinating article entitled Bourne Yesterday, which tracks back from The Bourne Identity, the literary antecedants of the amnesiac spy (particularly ones who are dragged from the ocean). In his article, Jeremy names checks Ian Fleming (for the end of You Only Live Twice and the beginning of The Man With The Golden Gun), Dennis Wheatley (for Faked Passports) and Manning Coles (for Pray Silence).

But both Who Am I and The Bourne Identity (the film that is – because in book Bourne’s purpose and identity are quite different) feature agents who have lost their memory, and while in the process of discovering who they are, also uncover some shady characters who are out to protect themselves. Also in both instances, if both Bourne and Chan were left alone by the villains of the piece, then most likely their schemes and corrupt little empires would have survived. By intervening, and trying to eliminate Bourne and Chan, they have inadvertently left a trail, leading our amnesiac heroes directly to their doorstep.

There are some quite noticeable differences between the two characters as well. Bourne essentially gets amnesia when a mission goes bad, or it could be argued that he actually fails in his mission. He is shot and falls into the sea. Then on the other hand, Chan is a good soldier/agent. It is his corrupt CIA boss’ duplicity and resulting betrayal that leads to Chan falling from a helicopter and and losing his memory. So Bourne gets amnesia as a result of his own actions. Chan’s amnesia is the result of a malicious double-cross.

Despite the fact that I have compared this film to The Bourne Identity, it isn’t really much of a spy film. Anyone who has seen The Tuxedo or The Accidental Spy will realise that the espionage plotting is simply a framework for Chan to drape his unique kind of mayhem over. I guess that is one of the beauties of the amnesiac plot is that it converts Chan into an ‘everyman’ or an ‘innocent bystander’. He doesn’t necessarily have to be a spy to get caught up in the situation he finds himself involved, but he is, and therefore has the skills to extricate himself from his predicament.

Jackie Chan’s films usually deliver a fair quotient of crazy stunts and highly choreographed martial arts, and that is very much true for Who Am I, but it does take a while for the action to kick in. I guess this has to do with the amnesiac character that Chan plays. As the story plays out, initially, after the amnesia, Chan is unsure of what he is capable of. Only as the story progresses, and the stakes get higher, and the ‘threats’ to Chan’s well-being before more and more painfully obvious, does he instinctively use the skills that he possesses.

Because of the slow start, and some heavy handed plot contrivances Who Am I could be considered one of Jackie’s lesser films, but that in no way detracts from the enjoyment this film provides. Jackie Chan is a very likeable actor and as a film-maker is extremely professional. He is not going to allow the film to fail in delivering what his audiences demand.

Who Am I (1998)

The Tuxedo (2002)

Country: United States
Directed by Kevin Donovan
Jackie Chan, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jason Isaacs, Debi Mazar, Ritchie Coster, Peter Stormare, James Brown
Music by John Debney, Christophe Beck

Jackie Chan’s career can be broken up in to two distinct parts – his Hong Kong work which is pretty good, and his American work which isn’t. The Tuxedo is one of the American productions, and as hard as he tries, poor old Jackie just can’t carry this sort of crap. This film also proves that no matter how hard Jennifer Love Hewitt tries, she’ll never be a comedienne.

The film begins with CSA Agent Wallace in a water bottling plant owned by Banning Industries. He has been working on an operation called ‘Big Drip’ and must have found out something serious, because he urgently puts through a call to CSA headquarters on his mobile. Before he can relay this super-vital piece of information, from above a guy puts a clear plastic bag over Wallace’s head. This isn’t any normal plastic bag. It happens to have a hose attached at the back, and just when you think the poor bloke is going to suffocate a torrent of water rushes in and Wallace ends up drowning. Wallace falls to the ground dead. The evil minion who executed Wallace stands over the dead body and says ‘Aqua La Vista, Baby!’ – I am sure you all get the bad pun, but for younger readers not familiar with the work and immortal words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, it’s a play on the line ‘Hasta La Vista Baby,’ from Terminator 2.

So what have we got so far? A dead CSA agent you was working on ‘Operation Big Drip’ (it’s hardly ‘Thunderball’) and a villain who makes bad puns. From the two minute mark of the movie, you can clearly see the line that this movie is taking – broad comedy – which is a shame, because the villains plan in this film is really quite good. It’s a pity that they wrapped it up in a goofball comedy. But back to the plot. We haven’t even seen Jackie yet!

Jackie plays a love struck, tongue tied taxi driver named Jimmy Tong. When we first meet him, he is standing outside an art gallery, staring at the beautiful girl who works within. As he watches, he practices his introduction line. Finally he works up the courage to go in and ask her to dinner, but he freezes and makes a fool of himself.

He returns to his cab outside and finds that there is a passenger waiting inside. She gives Jimmy an address and says that if he can make it to the destination before she finishes putting on her makeup, she’ll pay him double the amount shown on the meter. Jimmy puts the pedal to the metal and weaves his way through the congested New York streets. He makes it on time, and not only collects a big fare, he also collects a new job. The lady offers him a position as the chauffeur to the mysterious Clark Devlin (Jason Isaacs). Devlin is a James Bond like figure. He is suave, witty, a great dancer, and the best agent the CSA have. Men want to be him, and women want to be with him.

Meanwhile back at CSA headquarters, they have discovered Wallace’s body and have performed an autopsy. It looks like an accident – in a bath tub, no less. But one operative, Del Blaine (Jennifer Lover Hewitt) has other ideas. She believes it is murder, and provides evidence to back her theory. Her investigative work gets her a promotion and she is assigned to work with Clark Devlin, following up on Wallace’s work.

Devlin though, is already at work and following up some leads, with Jimmy chauffeuring the limousine. As Devlin and Jimmy stop for a bite to eat, some young punks attach a homing device to the rear of the limo. This homing device attracts a riderless skateboard to which has been taped a large amount of explosive. As the explosive device moves closer and closer, Jimmy once again has a chance to prove his driving prowess, but eventually they are forced into an alleyway and then cut off by a parked vehicle. Both Devlin and Jimmy get out just before the bomb hits, but he explosion throws Devlin into some garbage cans. He gets up with a nasty gash and blood trickling down the side of his face. He collapses. Jimmy, naturally rushes to his aid, and as is the tradition in all these types of films, Devlin whispers some important information. The first, is to contact a man named Walter Stryder. The second is ‘trust no-one’. And finally he hands over his watch. He tells Jimmy to wear it.

Jimmy heads back to Devlin’s mansion and finds that the watch opens a glass booth which houses a pretty nifty tuxedo. Jimmy decides to try on this tuxedo, but as you will have no doubt guessed (because the movie is called The Tuxedo), that this is no ordinary tuxedo. It is the ultimate Q Branch gadget. The Tux – or Tactical Uniform Xperiment (TUX-1) – immediately adjusts to Jimmy’s size, and through the watch, which is like a remote control, the suit can do almost anything. Some of the modes include: Demolition / Assemble Rifle / Anti Grav / Shake Booty.

Now Jimmy, dressed in the ultimate spy weapon takes over from Devlin. Along the way he teams up with Blaine and together they try to take down the malevolent water mogul, Banning.

Of course, this elaborate set up is not really important to the film. What is, is that Jackie Chan is in a suit that makes him do really cool, and sometimes really silly things. The point being that Jackie’s character Jimmy isn’t really doing any of the actions – the suit is – giving Jackie the opportunity to do large amounts of physical comedy using his martial arts skills.

Look I love Jackie, and obviously as we’ve come to expect from his films, the choreography is amazing, but really this is pretty tedious and juvenile stuff. The film is given another kicking when they chose to partner him with Jennifer Love Hewitt who has no flare for this kind of comedy. Not wishing to be mean, I am sure Miss Love Hewitt has her fans and in other productions proves her worth, but in this – and the script writers must take some of the blame – she is so conceited and irritating that I just wanted Jackie to hit her with a chair or something just to make her stop talking. At this juncture, before I get into trouble, I’d just like to say that Permission To Kill does not condone any form of violence towards women – we are talking films here, and I am sure the props department could rig up a chair that would in no way hurt or injure Miss Love Hewitt. It’s a Hollywood chair – it’s an imaginary CGI chair. All I am trying to say that her character was so frustrating to watch, that it began to make the movie a chore to sit through.

Okay with that off my chest, I’d like to say that The Tuxedo is not a great film. Young teenage boys may like it, but beyond that it is far from Jackie’s grandest moment. You’ve been warned.

The Tuxedo (2002)

The Accidental Spy (2001-2002)

American version – Dimension Films
Director: Teddy Chen
Starring: Jackie Chan, Eric Tsang, Vivian Hsu, Kim Min Jeong, Wu Hsing Kuo
Music: Peter Kam (Hong Kong), Michael Wandmacher (U.S. re-edit)

The Accidental Spy is a hybrid spy / martial arts film in the usual Jackie Chan style. This film divides many people due to the fact that there appears to be quite a few versions floating around. There is the original Hong Kong version. A Hong Kong version that has been dubbed into English. And finally a version by Dimension Films, which is an American re-dub that has also been re-edited. It seems that the story changes quite substantially in the differing versions too. This review relates to the Dimension Films version.

The film opens on an ancient rural landscape in Turkey. A convoy of 4WD vehicles wind their way through the village to a hi-tech farming centre, where bio chemists are trying to create new ways of farming the land. In the convoy is an English news crew who are doing a story on the farm. But it seems that someone isn’t happy with the project. As the interview unfolds, a squad of terrorists, armed with machine guns interrupt proceedings and mow everybody down: farmers, chemists and newscrew.

Next we have the title sequence which shows us snippets from the film that is to come, and features a techo theme by Michael Wandmacher which pounds over the top. Wandmacher’s theme has just enough Bond-style brass cues to re-enforce that you are watching a spy film, but not enough to warrant a lawsuit.

After the cow-catcher and titles we land in Hong Kong and Jackie Chan (that’s his character name, played by er.., Jackie Chan) is preparing for another day at work. He works as a sales assistant at a Weider Fitness store, selling workout equipment. After he bungles a sale, Jackie takes a break at the local shopping mall. His timing is impeccable because a bank robbery is taking place. As the bandits flee, they take hostages, but Jackie intervenes by clobbering the assailants with a pram (don’t worry – the tot wasn’t occupying the pram at the time). The crooks drop their bundle of loot and Jackie quickly scoops it up and then scarpers. Naturally the bandits want the money back, so they pursue Jackie through the complex, conducting a running battle as they go. As with most Jackie Chan movies the choreography is excellent (arranged and performed by Tung Wai and the JC Stuntmen Team). The mayhem moves to the roof, high above the city and Jackie makes his escape by leaping onto a large industrial crane.

At the end of the day, Jackie is a hero and order is restored…so how does Jackie become The Accidental Spy? The press make a feature story out of Jackie’s daring heroics and he comes to the attention of a second rate gumshoe, Manny Liu (Eric Tsang). Liu is working for an elderly Korean, living in Seoul, who is trying to find his son. You see, in the television interview, Jackie’s whole life story came out. He grew up in an orphanage, after he was abandoned at the age of four months old, in 1958. All he can remember is a dangling necklace with a Catholic cross. Liu thinks Jackie fits the bill perfectly.

So Jackie is sent off to Seoul to meet the man who may (or may not) be his father. Park Won-Jung (the father) is on his deathbed at a Defence Department Hospital. As Jackie enters the room he notices the catholic cross around the old man’s neck. It appears that Park Won-Jung is Jackie’s father. And not only that, but in the espionage world he was also the most notorious double agent Korea has ever known.

Later after Jackie has left the hospital some opposition agents assault Park Won-Jung in his room. He dies, but leaves behind a carved wooden box with a Holy medal on the front – and inside is the cross necklace and a key. What does the key unlock? Nobody knows. But through the key, and a little game that his father cooked up before his death, Jackie is about to enter the world of espionage. A world that leads him to the rooftops, bath-houses and markets of Istanbul.

The McGuffin in this film is a super drug called Opium Maxa, which you may have guessed, was being manufactured by the bio-chemists who were slaughtered at the beginning of the film. Unbeknownst to Jackie, his inheritance is to track down this drug and not get killed in the process. Along the way there are Turkish thugs, Korean Agents, the C.I.A. and a nosey journalist, all of whom have an interest in getting their hands on the drug. For those interested, in the original Hong Kong version, the McGuffin was an ultra-lethal, weaponized pathogen called Anthrax II. But The Accidental Spy’s American release co-incided with the big Anthrax scare, after September 11. So it had to be changed.

The Accidental Spy was made when Jackie Chan was at the peak of his Western popularity, with hit films like Shanghai Noon and Rush Hour 1 & 2. But Jackie still received a lot of criticism that his films didn’t have the same charm and style that his earlier Hong Kong work did. The Accidental Spy seems like an attempt to address that. Even though this re-edited version is produced by Harvey and Max Weinstein (Miramax), this is still very much a Hong Kong film. Despite going back to his roots, this film isn’t one of Chan’s success’s. Sure it’s entertaining in it’s way, and as I mentioned earlier the stunts and fight scenes are choreographed very well, albeit with Jackie’s habit of verging into silly slapstick (the kids love it). The real problems is the script which appears to be written around the stunts rather than fitting the stunts to the story. The ending, which takes place on a tanker truck, while be a fairly entertaining set piece is really quite unrealistic…As my ten year old son said when he saw it ‘why didn’t they hit the breaks and get out of the truck?’ Well yeah –that would have worked too, but wouldn’t be as exciting.

Having said all that, as I have mentioned there are numerous versions of the film. Maybe in other versions the plot is fleshed out more and the ending is more believable – but I can’t see my self scouring the world for the alternative versions to check. In the end, this version of The Accidental Spy is a pleasant enough time killer if you are a fan of Jackie Chan, but as a spy film it is a trifle clumsy.

This review is based on the Miramax Dimension Home Entertainment / Buena Vista Entertainment (Australasia) DVD

Visit the official website

The Accidental Spy (2001-2002)