Jackie Chan Double Feature: Battle Creek Brawl/City Hunter [Blu-Ray] Robert Clouse & Jing Wong

Jackie Chan Double Feature: Battle Creek Brawl/City Hunter [Blu-Ray] Robert Clouse & Jing Wong
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Two of the broadest, most peculiar comedies in Jackie Chan's filmography have been paired up for another Shout! Factory double feature. Tonally, the physical comedian's first shot at breaking into the American market, Battle Creek Brawl (restored to its original moniker after being sold to audiences in 1980 as The Big Brawl, to maximize subconscious association with Bruce Lee's introductory picture, The Big Boss) fits with 1993's outright bizarre manga adaptation, City Hunter. Both play with a level of camp that's extreme even for the man who made Shanghai Noon, over-emphasizing Chan's knack for slapstick. Neither film connected at the box office though, and for good reason: they're horrible. With its run-of-the-mill plot — gangsters force American-born Jerry Kwan (Chan) into a no-holds-barred tournament to save his brother's fiancé — and underwhelming fight choreography, Brawl is a wrong-footed farce that squanders the strengths of its lead on Chaplin-biting gags and ill-fitting patriotic heroism. However, City Hunter is one of Chan's funniest movies — for all the wrong reasons. Jing Wong's attempt to create a live-action manga shows just how much thought and care the Wachowskis put into Speed Racer, as aggravating as that film can be to watch. Any further comparisons between the two are unfair though, as City Hunter is a complete mess. But what a gloriously stupid and decidedly un-PC mess! The relentless, haphazard what-the-fuckery? is mind-boggling, and kind of delightful, in a perverse sort of way. Even though the story of a womanizing private dick charged with the rescue of a wealthy publishing tycoon's daughter is clearly meant as comedy, it's a film you'll be laughing at, not with. Unless you find casual misogyny hilarious, you'll be guffawing along with Jing Wong every time something awful happens to Ryo Saeba's Robin-by-way-of-Moneypenny sidekick, Carrie (Joey Wong), which is often, as the attitude displayed towards the fairer sex in this phallocentric funhouse of adolescent imagery is appalling. James Bond looks like Jimmy Stewart compared to Ryo Saeba (or plain old City Hunter, as he's called in the English voiceover, because who can expect the average American viewer to process foreign syllables?). As an extension of the Jackie Chan brand, City Hunter is as much a failure as Brawl, but at least he failed on his own terms, and spectacularly so, with the former. Those terms are the primary focus of the special features accompanying this two-pack. In Brawl's bonus content, producer Fred Weintraub provides one side of the story in "Jackie Chan's American Adventure," brushing off the film's poor reception as a fickle audience expecting the next Bruce Lee, claiming, "Jackie was satisfied with the film; we both were." This directly contradicts a lengthy interview with the star on the Hunter disc, where Chan recalls his Brawl days as, "a very bad experience, for me." At first, the obviously frustrated performer tries to say his piece and find a silver lining — "it was very humbling" — but with every remembered detail the nimble martial artist grows increasingly agitated, criticizing many of the director's choices and lamenting the standards of American action pictures. For the rest of the interview, Chan is very self-critical in discussing his body of work and City Hunter in particular. He displays no regrets regarding the project, but also doesn't take a firm position on the film's quality. Each batch of features includes at least one additional interview: Kristine DeBell reminisces about helping Chan with his English on the set of Brawl and being pitched a "'40s roller derby kung-fu comedy," while Hunter is privy to an unfocused chat with director Jing Wong and an on-point talk with long-time Chan stunt team member Rocky Lai. Come for the historical curiosity, but stay for the baffling sight of Chan cosplaying as nearly every character from Street Fighter II. (Shout! Factory)