Tuesday, March 9, 2010

OPERATION CONDOR (1997) - 3/5 stars

Release: 1991 (Hong Kong), 1997 (America)
Director: Jackie Chan
Writer: Jackie Chan, Edward Tang
Cast: Jackie Chan, Carol Cheng, Eva Cobo de Garcia, Shoko Ikeda
Soundtrack: Chris Babida (rescored for America)
Claim to fame: well...this movie is pretty damn obscure, except for its final kung fu battle in a wind tunnel
Rating: 3/5 stars

If you watched the entire Indiana Jones trilogy and thought to yourself: "you know, what these movies really need is more more kung fu, plucky Asian chicks falling out of their bathroom towels, and a bunch of offense Arabic stereotypes..." well, then, my friend, "Operation Condor" is for you.


"Operation Condor": honestly, it IS kinda like

a live-action harem anime with Jackie Chan at the center

This movie, as dubbed and recut for America by Dimension Films, is quite a stinker - but I can't really bring myself to rate it lower than 3 stars since even when Jackie Chan has an off day he's still entertaining me.

Just be warned that the dubbing turns "Operation Condor" into a live-action cartoon, with horribly sexist roles for all the women characters and a bunch of bumbling terrorist types who praise Allah when they aren't falling off balconies.


Nothing like some Eurobabe T&A to stop a jihadist dead in his tracks

A scene where Jackie's female entourage is about to be sold off as slaves to some sheiks in the desert is supposed to be a funny interlude inbetween all the ass-kicking - I think you can imagine just how groan-worthy it turns out.


This guy literally tries to hock the girls as the "Aryan beauty"

and the "Oriental sex kitten"

You'll notice that "Operation Condor" was actually released in 1991 in Hong Kong. It's known there under the title "Armour of God II: Operation Condor." The movie didn't hit American cinemas a until a whopping 6 years later, after Jackie found popularity in this country with "Rumble in the Bronx." 6 years is perhaps too long to ask an action movie to remain relevant, but I have to hold out hope that "Armour of God II" in its uncut and subtitled form is infinitely more watchable than the wacky farce American audiences got in theaters as "Operation Condor."

Granted, I don't have access to the director's cut of the movie (yet) but rest assured the next time I watch this flick it will definitely be Jackie's vision and not the "hacked up for Western shores" travesty I've been watching since I was a kid. By the way, this is not a good movie for kids, heh.


Yup, Jackie relies on the same "remove the bath towel" trick

to distract the bad guys...TWICE!

The good news is that "Operation Condor" is bolstered by at least two extremely impressive action sequences: one is a motorcycle chase near the beginning that features several jaw-dropping moments, including Jackie pulling himself up onto some rafters as a flying car narrowly misses his limbs.




Later on Jackie fights the usual cadre of goons in an underground Nazi base, performing fancy moves on these see-sawing metal platforms.




Most impressive.


No, Jackieee!


Whew, yeah, that was close!

After that Jackie takes on some thugs in a wind tunnel, in a scene that took at least a month to shoot and caused the movie to go way over budget - it was the most expensive Hong Kong production ever at the time - but honestly...it doesn't do much for me, as the scene is mostly played for laughs.





Of course, it's awesome to see Jackie exclaim "Superman!" and then fly through the air, smashing both his fists into a bad guy's stomach.


Yes, this is really happening


"I hope you saved enough room for my fist...

because I'm going to ram it into your stomach!"

It's a shame that the rest of the movie is such a brain-dead mash up between James Bond and Indiana Jones, but with a surplus of shrieking damsels in distress and a parade of racial stereotypes. Overall, the ending sequence kind of reminded me of Sammo Hung's "Eastern Condors" (no, not just because of the title), which is an infinitely superior movie and well worth a rental for kung fu fans. "Operation Condor" here is strictly for the die-hard Jackie Chan devotees. No one else need apply.


A deleted scene from "Cannibal Holocaust"

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