1993, 105 minutes, 35mm, in Cantonese with English subtitles
Directed by: Wong Jing
Starring: Jackie Chan, Chingmy Yau, Joey Wong, Leon Lai, Richard Norton, Gary Daniels, Eric Kot & Jan Lam
Tuesday, June 25 @ 1:30pm (buy tickets)
Wednesday, June 26 @ 9:15pm (buy tickets)
Golden Harvest loved the results they got from pairing Jackie with another director in Police Story 3: Supercop, and the box office boomed for that film. They decided to pair Jackie with two more directors leading to two of the most extreme movies in Jackie Chan’s canon: the grimdark Crime Story directed by Kirk Wong and the cocaine-babble high speed nonsense machine of Wong Jing’s CITY HUNTER.
To capitalize on Jackie’s massive Japanese fanbase, Golden Harvest bought the rights to Tsukasa Hojo’s City Hunter manga and anime series, and hired Wong Jing to turn it into a star-studded Chinese New Year movie. Wong is Hong Kong’s King of Bad Taste, a director for whom too much is never enough and whose “everything and the kitchen sink plus some ninjas” movies score big at the box office. The genius behind Chow Yun-fat’s God of Gamblers movies, the director of some of Stephen Chow’s most popular films, and the producer of the popular Young and Dangerous series in the late 90’s he’s one of the few directors to keep consistently making hits right through the Asian Economic Crisis of the late 90’s. In box office terms, he’s bulletproof. With a movie as over-the-top as CITY HUNTER, he has to be.
Star-studded to the point of insanity, CITY HUNTER opens with shots of the original manga art over the sound of gunshots and a smooth synthesizer score featuring a chorus of women chirping “Hi!”, “Having fun?” before breaking into joyfully berserk shouts of “City HUNTER!” Then Jackie, playing private eye Ryo Saeba, wishes the audience happy New Year and explains that he used to work with a partner, Mikamura (Michael Wong), and the two engage in Batman-circa-1966 fisticuffs before Mikamura is gunned down and leaves Jackie in charge of his sister, Carrie, warning him not to pork the nine-year-old once she comes of age and turns into superstar Joey Wong (in one of the last movies she made before retiring).
Hired by a rich man to find his runaway daughter Shizuko (Japanese supermodel Goto Kumiko, whose career would end two years later when she ran off with French race car driver, Jean Alesi), Jackie’s investigation consists of answering a single phone call from parties unknown who tell him that Shizuko is running with a dangerous skateboard gang. Jackie gives chase but loses her. Then Carrie ditches him over the fact that he’s a horndog on the prowl with every woman but her. She decides to drown her sorrows by taking a cruise on the massive Fuji Maru. Jackie follows and stows away on board. Also on board, Shizuko who found a ticket for the cruise in a pervert’s pocket. Such is the randomness of Wong Jing’s plotting.
Also on board is longtime Wong Jing collaborator and sometime lover, Chingmy Yau, an agent who is tracking a team of terrorists led by Australian martial artist, Richard Norton, who are on board the Fuji Maru for unknown reasons. Her partner is Carol Wan, a one-time Hong Kong beauty pageant winner who lost her title when it was revealed she had breast implants. Wong Jing, being a master of good taste, bases pretty much every aspect of her character around her large breasts (at one point Jackie, desperate for food, hallucinates that they’re enormous hamburgers). Wong claimed that he made this movie because he didn’t think Jackie was ever funny in his movies (leading one to wonder how many of them he’d actually seen) and because the women in Jackie’s movies were usually just wallpaper, which is true. Thus, Joey Wong gets a lot of screen time, as does Chingmy Yau, who does most of her own stunts.
But it’s the ridonkulous hip hop musical number at the half hour mark that sets off the finale: nearly 50 non-stop minutes of an incongruously bloody gun battle as Gary Daniels and Richard Norton’s evil red-clad SWAT team take over the ship while banging giant squibs out of everyone’s heads. It’s a big, bloody, bullet-saturated pudding studded with individual setpieces like a battle between Jackie and Gary Daniels as characters from Street Fighter (Daniels becomes Ken while Jackie cross-dresses as Chun Li), a guest-appearance from Bruce Lee in Golden Harvest’s Brucesploitation film Game of Death who lends celluloid advice to Jackie while he fights two enormous African-American bad guys, a death-tango between Jackie and Chingmy Yau and an army of henchmen, and a final match-up between Jackie and Richard Norton.
A cavalcade of Canto-comedy, non-stop nonsense, an onslaught of cartoonish sound effects, mugging, and wacky performances it crosses the absurdity barrier and passes directly into surrealism, this is like one of Frank Tashlin’s live action cartoon comedies starring Jerry Lewis if Lewis could do kung fu and was Chinese. Tasteless, trend-obsessed, and transcendentally tacky, how much you love CITY HUNTER depends on whether or not you’ve ever laughed at Jerry Lewis.