This Hong Kong homage to the Indiana Jones films will be forever remember as the film that almost killed Jackie Chan.
A former pop star turned mercenary for hire, Jackie has gained recognition as the Asian Hawk, a collector of rare artifacts who has obtained an item known as the Sword of God, which is one of five pieces of the famous Armour of God. When a young woman, May, buys the Sword at an auction, Jackie is relieved to get a high price for it. However, later that day, he receives frantic messages from his former best friend Alan, who has arrived at the hotel to inform him that Laura, Jackie’s ex-girlfriend and Alan’s current fiancée, has been kidnapped.
The kidnappers are a local European cult hellbent on gaining the Armour for its supposed powers to be granted to the keeper of the five pieces. Dr. Bannon, a local artifact collector, has two pieces but Jackie and Alan, who arrive at Bannon’s mansion, learn that Bannon actually has three pieces as the young woman who bought the sword, May, is Bannon’s daughter. When Jackie makes a deal with Bannon to borrow his pieces in exchange for bringing him the entire Armour of God, Bannon agrees under the condition May heads with them to not only get the remaining pieces of the Armour, but rescue Laura as well before it’s too late.
After successfully making what is considered his long-awaited policeman classic Police Story, Jackie Chan wanted to up the ante and make a film inspired by the Indiana Jones films. Upon shooting in the now former Yugoslavia, Chan had longtime friend Eric Tsang direct the film. Tsang came up with the shocking idea of cutting down Jackie’s trademark big hair. Then, the inevitable happened. In a chase scene against some natives, Chan jumped from a castle to a tree which was to bend down enough so Chan can evade the goons. The first attempt went smoothly, but the second attempt resulted in the near-fatal accident that gave Chan a hole in the head, which happened from the branch breaking off, causing him to fall and hit his head on a rock.
After recovering from successful surgery, Chan grew the trademark mane back and took over directing duties himself. One can view the opening scene, which Chan has the short hair, as the prologue to the film’s adventure and it is quite a wild and fun ride. Chan does quite well as the Asian Hawk, who has a fixation for money, hides the fact that in some way, his repressed feelings for Laura come back upon learning she’s been kidnapped and doesn’t know a good thing in front of him when May, Bannon’s daughter, seems to show some interest in him. However, he tends to be chauvinistic when May offers to help but is a bit surprised when she proves herself thanks to her sharpshooting skills despite a small near mishap.
Pop star Alan Tam makes for a good comic foil as Alan, Jackie’s former friend whose current fiancée is Laura, played by Rosamund Kwan. Their intro as a team comes in the form of a band they were in called “The Losers”, a play on Tam’s band The Wynners. Tam’s bandmates appear in the film as the Losers alongside Naked Killer director Clarence Ford and actress Carina Lau. While Kwan normally can be seen as somewhat of a damsel in distress, there is a key scene that becomes a plot twist in the story. Meanwhile, former Miss Spain Maria Delores “Lola” Forner proves herself well during the second act as both a potential romantic interest for our hero as well as a both a reliable ally with some humor as well. Chan knew to trust Forner after the successful collaboration in the 1984 Sammo Hung-directed Wheels on Meals.
The action of the film is exciting with plenty of martial arts action. Chan’s choreography team included legendary Lau Kar-Wing as we see Chan using lots of acrobatics and kicks in his arsenal with some highlights being a virtual one-on-many battle with the monks and a very intense action scene that pits Chan against four Amazon warriors, who in the fight themselves are doubled by member of the JC Stunt Team. Another great action highlight is a blistering car chase between Chan and Tam and the evil monks, who ride in both cars and motorcycles. To pull this off, Chan relied on one of the best car stunt coordinators in all of Europe, Rene Julienne, who did an excellent job of choreographing the chase scene.
Armour of God is an exciting Jackie Chan action film in the vein of Indiana Jones. While it may be forever known as the film he almost died in, it doesn’t take away the fact that this is a fun action adventure with humor, an exciting chase scene, and some great Chan-style fight scenes.
WFG RATING: A
Golden Harvest presents a Paragon Films production in association with Jadran Film. Director: Jackie Chan. Producer: Leonard Ho. Writers: Edward Tang, Szeto Chuek Hon, Lo Kin, and John Sheppard. Cinematography: Peter Ngor, Cheung Yiu-Cho, Bob Thompson, Au Kam-Hung, Arthur Wong, Jimmy Leung, Poon Hang-Sang, Stephen Poon, Chan Lok-Yee, Andrew Lau, Lam Lai-Hing, Cho Wai-Kei, Danny Lee, and Raymond Lam. Editing: Peter Cheung.
Cast: Jackie Chan, Alan Tam, Maria Delores Forner, Rosamund Kwan, Ken Boyle, John Ladalski, Robert O’Brien, Boris Gregoric, Bozidar Smiljanic, Wayne Archer, Gary Carter, Geoffrey Brown, Marcia Chisholm, Linda Denley, Stephanie Evans, Alicia Shonte, Anthony Chan, Kenny Bee, Bennett Pang, Danny Yip, Clarence Ford, Carina Lau.