Crime Story/The Protector: Double Feature [Blu-Ray] Kirk Wong and James Glickenhaus

Crime Story/The Protector: Double Feature [Blu-Ray] Kirk Wong and James Glickenhaus
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The commonality between the two features included in this Jackie Chan double bill is the harebrained notion that China's martial arts Buster Keaton is suitable for gritty crime drama. Like many performers famous for a specific skill set (stunt-based action comedy, in this case), Chan couldn't resist making a bid to be seen as a serious actor. In both Crime Story and The Protector, the results are less than enthralling. Originally released in 1993, Crime Story attempts a weighty action-drama hybrid concerning the "true story" of a billionaire abducted in an elaborate ambush, one made possible by the corruption in the police force. Barely drawn characters, excessive gunplay, wanton destruction and a plethora of technical glitches disarm the gravitas inherent in the situation. The English dubbing is horrendous, but the Cantonese language track is nearly as bad. Either the ADR is way off the mark or neither version is the original audio. In lieu of learning Putonghua, I'll never know. Chan's distinctive, acrobatic, environment-exploiting fight choreography doesn't make an appearance until midway through this campy noir melodrama, but when it does, his nimble stunt work is captured with a clear eye. Still, it's too little too late in a movie that's over-long and under-stimulating intellectually, emotionally and viscerally. An interview with director Kirk Wong is poorly translated, making his grandiose statements about inspiring the modernization of Chinese police stations all the more laughable. No comment is made on the edits Chan had made to tone down the darkness and amp up the slapstick. Chan's discomfort with shaking up his image is highly apparent in both films, but more so in one of his early attempts to crack the American market, The Protector. A product of '80s excess, writer/director James Glickenhaus's crime exploitation flick was actually subjected to after-the-fact re-shoots to make an alternate cut that would appeal more to Chan's Hong Kong fan base. This "Hong Kong version" is included, but hasn't been upgraded to HD and isn't different enough to warrant a watch from any but the most obsessive Chan fans. In either cut, The Protector is a curious mess, full of gratuitous nudity, violence and flat humour that runs on the odd-couple/fish-out-of-water template that would later be recycled for his lucrative team-ups with Chris Tucker and Owen Wilson. Between horrible sound editing, lethargic line readings and sloppy fight scenes, there isn't much to enjoy in this dirty little revenge piece, but with the number of slow motion shots of bad guys falling from high places, there's plenty of potential to develop a derisive drinking game. Glickenhaus shows up for an interview in the special features, stating a vehement disinterest in comedy and making a bizarre assertion that what the action world needs is more manly gunplay and less Kung-Fu — little wonder Chan was dissatisfied with the original version. Also included are "Then and Now" location comparisons and an uninteresting look behind the scenes. (Shout! Factory)