Jackie Chan’s love of car racing transitions to the big screen in this action packed film from director Gordon Chan.
Graduating from a racing academy in Japan, Jackie returns home to Hong Kong where he plans to help his father’s garage and assist him in tracking down illegal racing cars at night with the police. Reporter Amy Ip plans to have a special report on Jackie and his father, yet they both refuse comment. However, on one fateful night, a deadly racer has arrived in Hong Kong and he is no ordinary racer. His name is Cougar and he is one of Interpol’ s most wanted criminals, prompting agent Steve Cannon to arrive in Hong Kong.
When Jackie is able to stop Cougar one night, Cougar becomes impressed and plans to race Jackie, who refuses. However, when a band of thugs attempt to attack Jackie, Jackie uses his fighting skills to fend him off and with Steve’s help, Cougar is sent to prison for extradition. However, Cougar escapes and seeks revenge on Jackie and decimates his family home, which causes his father to have a heart attack. Even worse, Cougar kidnaps Jackie’s two sisters and now, Jackie must return to Japan and compete in the race of his life, but he cannot do it alone. With Amy and former trainer Murakami, Jackie prepares for the race but he also must settle a score before the race begins.
While many know Jackie Chan as the one of the world’s favorite martial arts action stars, some may not know thar he is an avid racing fan. The time came for Jackie to mesh both his trademark martial arts action with his love of car racing in the form of this film, co-written and directed by Gordon Chan. Jackie brings a sense of both comic wit in the film’s opening and emotion when it comes to the pivotal scene where he finds himself forced to race. He plays a man who just wants to go about his business, a mechanic who has studied racing in Japan, and is forced to return there for the race of a lifetime as it becomes personal to him.
Anita Yuen starts off as a bit annoying, but ultimately proves to be reliable in the role of investigative reporter Amy, who looks for a story only to have true compassion for Jackie when he is at his worst. Michael Wong makes the most of his screen time as Interpol agent Steve Cannon while German-born actor Thorsten Nickel looks to be having fun in the role of lead villain Cougar, with the likes of Kenya Sawada and Ken Lo as his main henchmen, who have a fight scene with Chan in a pachinko parlor prior to the film’s big action sequence. Chan had to doubled by co-star Chin Kar-Lok for pieces of this particular fight scene due to his ankle injury on Rumble in the Bronx. Sammo Hung took care of the film’s fight sequences in the film.
The final action sequence is actually the big car race and while the chase scenes in the film are expertly choreographed by Frankie Chan, it is the final race that really stands out. It looks as if Frankie and his team took a page out of big racing films such as Days of Thunder and adds a touch of insane road films like Smokey and the Bandit and nicely interweaves the elements of a very insane car race that pits our hero Chan against the villain Cougar as well as other racers competing.
Thunderbolt is quite a fun Jackie Chan film that melds his trademark action with his love for car racing. The car chases and big race are a hoot and the pachinko fight is quite fun to watch, even if Chan is obviously doubled for some parts. Nevertheless, Chan fans will like this one.
WFG RATING: B
A Golden Harvest (HK) Ltd. Production. Director: Gordon Chan. Producer: Chua Lam. Writers: Chan Hing-Kar, Gordon Chan, and Kwok Wai-Cheung. Cinematography: Ardy Lam, Lau Hung-Chuen, Horace Wong, Kwan Chi-Kan, Joe Chan, and Cheng Siu-Keung. Editing: Peter Cheung, Cheung Ka-Fai, Ng Wang-Hung, and Chan Ki-Hop.
Cast: Jackie Chan, Anita Yuen, Michael Wong, Thorsten Nickel, Dayo Wong, Ken Lo, Kenya Sawada, Cho Yuen, Daisy Woo, Annie Man, Yuzo Kayama.