Directed by Wong Jing
Produced by Chua Lam
Written by Wong Jing
Director of Photograpy Lee Chi Hang, Tom Lau & Ma Ka Cheung
Music by Romeo Diaz & James Wong
Cast: Jackie Chan, Chingmy Yau, Joey Wong & Richard Norton
1992/99 mins/Color/5.1 DD
1.85:1 anamorphic/Cantonese/Hong Kong/NTSC Region 1
Review from the 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment DVD
Imagine, if you will, DIE HARD aboard a cruise ship. That's easy, you say, that would be UNDER SIEGE. Now, try to imagine that film if it had been directed by the Farrelly Brothers and the emphasis had been on martial arts. That may begin to give you an idea of the insanity which is Jackie Chan's CITY HUNTER.
Chan stars at the "City Hunter", a private detective named Ryu Saeba, who, on the surface, is suave, debonair, and confident. But, in truth, he is a bumbling oaf who must rely on his assistant Kaori (Joey Wong) to help with his cases. This doesn't stop City Hunter from being egotistical and picturing himself as a ladies' man. For his latest assignment, City Hunter has been asked to track down Shizuko (Kumiko Goto), the daughter of a wealthy industrialist. He pursues Shizuko onto a luxury cruise ship, where, as it so happens, Kaori is vacationing. In addition, there are terrorists led by the evil Colonel MacDonald (Richard Norton), on board. During the cruise, the terrorists take over the ship and begin robbing and killing the passengers. It's up to City Hunter to save the day... but first, he just wants to find something to eat!
Folks, I've been reviewing movies for a long time now, but I must say that CITY HUNTER is one of the weirdest movies that I've ever seen. Going in, I really didn't know anything about the film, and expected this to be one of Jackie Chan's serious (or at least semi-serious) Hong Kong films, such as POLICE STORY. But, CITY HUNTER is about as far from serious as one can get. There are enough slapstick gags in this film to make someone from Vaudeville gag. If someone isn't falling down in every scene, then they are either getting slapped or losing their pants. There are more shots here of Chan mugging for the camera than in a "Cosby Show" marathon. To call the film silly or absurd would be a gross understatement. I mean, here's a film where the hero's biggest worry isn't the terrorist, or the fact that his assistant is in danger, but the fact that he is starving! The film reaches its high-point (or nadir, depending on one's viewpoint) when the actors suddenly transform into the characters from the "Street Fighter" video game. Weird!
To make things even stranger (is that possible?), the film's comedy (?) is intertwined with a fairly violent action film. (The film is based on a manga, and it certainly tries hard to achieve that feel.) The violence here is never too graphic (the film has been rated PG-13), but the terrorist do shoot the passengers, and plenty of people are killed. And, of course, there is the Jackie Chan fight choreography, which, as usual, is fascinating at times. Chan has his hands bound behind his back, not once, but twice in the film, and does some amazing stunts when bound. In a bizarre twist (no!), there is a scene where Chan and two very large men re-inact the famous fight scene between Bruce Lee and Kareem Abdul-Jabar from GAME OF DEATH. It should be pretty clear that CITY HUNTER isn't for everyone. But, if you are looking for one of the weirdest kung-fu comedies ever made, then this may be the film for you.
CITY HUNTER kicks its way onto DVD from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. From the research that I've done, it appears that running times for this film vary from 95 minutes to 105 minutes. This version clocks in at 99 minutes, but I'm not familiar enough with the movie to say if anything has been noticeably cut. The film is letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image here is fairly sharp and clear, showing only minor grain and some moderate defects at times. There are a few shots that look as if they came from a VHS master, but these last only a few seconds. (Although, they really stand out.) The colors are very good, which is a plus, as the cruise ship is a very colorful locale. Overall, the video transfer is pretty good. The primary audio track on this disc is a Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. This track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The track is somewhat lackluster in the surround sound department, involving those effects only during the extreme action scenes. The same goes for the English Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which, as is expected, provides horrid dubbing. The English subtitles are clear and easy to read.
The CITY HUNTER disc contains the same sort of extras found on Fox's other recent Hong Kong releases. There is the oddly titled "Jackie Chan CITY HUNTER Out Take MTV", which is a 2 1/2 minute montage of Jackie's mishaps set to music. The disc also includes new interviews with Chan (10 minutes), director Wong Jing (7 minutes) and stuntman Rocky Lai (11 minutes), in which the three discuss their memories and impressions of the film. The remainder of the extras are fairly average. There are three photo galleries -- one for the film, one of promotional materials, and one spotlighting Chan (which also includes a text bio of the star). There are production notes, which include a plot synopsis for CITY HUNTER and cast & crew bios. Finally, we have the original trailer for the film, as well as a newly created one.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2003. ©