REVIEW: First Strike (1996)

first-strike

Hong-kong-icon

1996, Golden Harvest Productions

Director:
Stanley Tong
Producer:
Barbie Tung
Writers:
Elliot Tong
Greg Mellor
Nick Tramontane
Stanley Tong
Cinematography:
Jingle Ma
Stanley Tong
Editing:
Yau Chi-Wai
Peter Cheung

Cast:
Jackie Chan (Jackie Chan Ka-Kui)
Bill Tung (Uncle Bill)
Jackson Lou (Tsui Kit)
Annie Wu (Annie Tsui)
Ailen Sit (Allen)
Yuriy Petrov (Col. Gregor Yegorov)
Nonna Grishaeva (Natasha)
Terry Woo (Uncle Seven)
Kristopher Kazmarek (Cmdr. Korda)
Nathan Jones (Hit Man)

This official fourth installment of the Police Story series brings Chan to the Ukraine, Russia and Australia where he discovers he has become the set-up man in a dangerous game.

On loan to Interpol, Hong Kong’s “supercop” Jackie Chan Ka-Kui is sent to Russia to cooperate in the investigation of a spy ring operation involving some dangerous nuclear warheads. He is asked to follow a mysterious woman named Natasha to the Ukraine, where she is to meet her partner, Chinese-born scientist Tsui. When Jackie and the team are set up for an ambush, Chan finds himself hunted down as he finds a briefcase with evidence. However, en route to escape, he loses the briefcase and falls into frozen waters.

As he is in Russia recovering, he meets KGB agent Gregor Yegorov, who asks for Chan’s help to track down Tsui, who since nearly being caught, returns to Australia and puts his younger sister Annie and dying father, Triad boss Uncle Seven, at risk for his business. However, as Chan goes to Australia to investigate, he soon learns that everything may not be what it seems and finds himself targeted by much more than he ever expected.

Four years after their prolific collaboration on Police Story III: Supercop, the duo of Stanley Tong and Jackie Chan join forces again on this fourth installment of the series. While the title is properly titled just First Strike, the film’s Chinese title reads “Police Story 4: First Strike”, hence this is the official sequel. The film brings Chan back to his signature role of Hong Kong police officer Chan Ka-Kui, who in previous installments was known as “Kevin Chan” but for some reason, the duo felt “Jackie” was a more suitable name.

Where the previous film had Chan’s Hong Kong cop team up with Michelle Yeoh’s Mainland police officer, Chan finds himself going even more international here. He finds himself going to the Ukraine, Russia, and Australia. Chan finds himself working with Interpol and then the KGB to track down a rogue Chinese scientist who has his hands on a nuclear warhead. While the execution is a bit weak when compared to the previous films, the character of Tsui, played by Jackson Lou, brings a bit of mystery as it is not until the third act that his true intentions are revealed.

Newcomer Annie Wu does pretty much not so much as a damsel in distress but one who finds herself in something she never expected. She does have a loyalty to her brother and family, but does prove herself to be ample support for Chan in his time of need despite first having to force him to take on some of the Triad members led by the late Ailen Sit in the film’s best fight sequence. Look out for Troy and Fearless actor Nathan Jones in one of his first on-screen roles as a hitman. Chan also has a Game of Death homage fight against the late towering Australian martial artist Brett Arthur as another hitman in another pretty decent fight which brings some of Chan’s trademark humor in the mix.

First Strike is not a completely bad film, but it does lack more action than expected in a Jackie Chan movie. However, the action, when it happens, is not bad especially the Triad ladder fight and Chan’s hilarious short fight against the late Brett Arthur.

WFG RATING: C+

DVD/BLU-RAY

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