Project A
('A' gai waak) (1983)
Directed by Jackie Chan

Artistic Value: * * *
Entertainment Value: * * * ½

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Sometime in the Nineteenth Century, pirates are haunting the waters around Hong Kong, but before the city's coast guard can be sent against the villains their ships are mysteriously destroyed. Without vessels, the coast guard is disbanded, and its men, including a very energetic young sailor named Dragon (Jackie Chan), are transferred to the police department. As a policeman, Dragon participates in an investigation of some of the pirates' accomplices, and, while doing so, he comes into contact with his ne'er-do-well friend, Fei (Sammo Hung), who has been hired by the miscreants to supply them with rifles. Undeterred by this, or by his conflicts with his superiors, Dragon continues his increasingly complicated fight to bring law and order to the rough and tumble world of British Hong Kong.

Jackie Chan's Project A is a genuinely fun, action packed film that rarely slows down for more than the briefest of moments.

While the story Chan tells in his movie is relatively complicated, it would be a mistake to think that the narrative usually does much more than provide excuses for each of the numerous action sequences which constitute the bulk of the film. In fact, Project A is absolutely filled with fights, chases, and various acrobatic feats. At different times, Chan gets involved in a bar brawl, does battle with armies of gangsters, fights a savage, sword wielding pirate captain, attempts to escape from his enemies through the narrow side streets of Hong Kong on a stolen bicycle, hangs above a square while holding onto the hands of a clock set in a tall tower, and so on and so on. Each of these sequences is so marvelously choreographed and brilliantly performed that they are all delightful to watch. Chan, in particular, shows his usual considerable skills at such feats, although his fellow cast members all deserve credit as well.

I will admit that the movie may not be the most sophisticated ever to have been made, and it may occasionally be more than a little amorphous, but it is so constantly fun and exciting that such faults are easily forgiven. To be honest, it is hard to believe that anyone would watch Project A for anything other than its action sequences. The person who does come to the movie hoping for a series of exciting fights and chases will, however, almost certainly enjoy Project A. It really is a fun film.

Review by Keith Allen

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