Combustible Celluloid

Digital Watch

New Hong Kong DVDs

by Jeffrey M. Anderson

The Medallion (2003, Columbia/TriStar)
With smooth, energetic direction by Gordon Chan and a love interest in the beautiful Claire Forlani, The Medallion shapes up as one of Jackie Chan's best American films, ranking right behind "Shanghai Noon" and its sequel. Detective Chan teams up with Interpol agents Forlani and Lee Evans to rescue a kidnapped boy from villain Julian Sands. The boy has both parts of a medallion that can alter life and death. The story is a bit ridiculous, but great fun. The disc includes 15 deleted scenes, a commentary track by one of the producers and the editor and trailers.

Purists tend to shy away from Chan's American films, so fortunately Fox has released five new vintage Hong Kong films in beautiful new widescreen editions. Each comes with optional Chinese-or-English language tracks and subtitles as well as trailers and other extras, and each retails for a bargain price of only $10. Unfortunately, Jackie Chan only appears in two of them and none of them are really worth writing home about.

Duel to the Death (1982, Fox)
The amazing Ching Siu-tung (A Chinese Ghost Story, Swordsman II) delivers some of his finest swordfight choreography in this sparse early film, which centers around a contest between Chinese and Japanese warriors.

Eastern Condors (1986, Fox)
Sammo Hung directed this very popular Rambo-type film, which sends a team of misfit Chinese criminals into Vietnam on a dangerous mission. Dr. Haing S. Ngor, who won an Oscar for his performance in The Killing Fields, co-stars.

Heart of Dragon (1985, Fox)
This melodrama with minimal action has to be the worst Jackie Chan movie I've ever seen. Sammo Hung plays Chan's mentally handicapped brother who becomes involved with the underworld when he inadvertently winds up with a case of stolen jewelry.

In the Line of Duty 4 (1989, Fox)
The great Yuen Woo-ping directed this standard-issue cop film with some good fight sequences. Donnie Yen (Iron Monkey) stars.

My Lucky Stars (1985, Fox)
When Jackie Chan's partner is kidnapped in Japan, it's up to Sammo Hung and his team of stooges to rescue him. Hung directs and provides lots of broad humor, but Chan is hardly in the film. Only a superb third-act fight sequence featuring Chan in a house of horrors saves the picture.
Best Buy Co, Inc.