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Get past the weirdness, because you'll love the action!  Now that you've had fair warning, I'll tell you what to expect from both this movie and the DVD.  Hardcore fans will know about this movies' merits, casual fans aren't sure if they like it or not, and the uneducated fans have probably been put off from seeing it at all (by the first two groups :-).

City Hunter
Movie
This project was intended to be an incredible combination of Japan's most popular comic character "Ryu Saeba (City Hunter)" with the worldwide appeal of Hong Kong Action Cinema - a classic case of a sum greater than its parts.  Even though the movie was quite successful at the Asian box-office, it received some (obvious) criticism from the fans of both of these genres and even Jackie Chan himself - initially.  Like an aging wine, it has had the time to acquire a pleasant taste with its fans.

Hong Kong Cinema on its own is already hyped up in its realism, but add the Japanese TV-show mentality into the mixture and you are just asking for trouble.  As a result, unless you are well versed in both of these genres, then you'll probably have no idea where this movie is coming from.  This bright and very colourful production should be viewed with the same 'realism' as what was afforded in 'The Matrix' - with a ton of suspension of disbelief :-).  Only then will you be rewarded with what Jackie Chan is famous for, mind-blowing action sequences.

The plot, for want of a better word, is Ryu Saeba (Jackie Chan) saving the day on a cruise ship which gets taken over by terrorists/robbers headed by Colonel Mac Donald (Richard Norton), along with his cohorts including actors Ken Lo (Jackie Chan's actual bodyguard) and Gary Daniels.  The movie follows very much in the same vein as the comic book, both in plot devices and the characters being portrayed.  Along the way, Ryu Saeba takes every chance he can to oggle (eye-off) every girl he comes across, including the one he's been sent to save when she rebels against her father (yet again).  In fact, if your girlfriend accuses you of staring down the tops of all the women in this flick, blame the director, since he forces the viewer to do so in at least half a dozen occasions!

City Hunter
Video
Thanks to the people at Hong Kong Legends (HKL), the quality of this anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer is the best ever available on home video.  The colours are incredibly vibrant, more so than in most films which was the intention of the director to convey a wholly comic book experience (ala the 'Dick Tracy' movie or the 60s 'Batman' TV series).  There is virtually no colour-bleeding, even in the usually troublesome blue-lit ballroom scenes.  The contrast and brightness levels are more suited to the brighter scenes, as the darker ones (especially in the 'Bruce Lee Cinema' sequence) tend to lose some detail in the shadows.  Also, there are numerous camera shots where certain light-sources are virtually aimed at the camera lens, but any blurring effect onto the foreground images has been very effectively minimised (which is often difficult to counteract in film-to-video transfers).  And even with the typical storage problems that Hong Kong films are infamous for, this DVD only suffers a bit of blotchiness in the foggy scenes and still shots, although there are not many of these.

Audio
All issues aside regarding original language vs english dubbing, the Cantonese 5.1 is the preferred listening environment.  We are presented with a very even mix of all the audio elements, and the sound effects get a much better work-out than what the English dub can ever hope to achieve.  The English 5.1 soundtrack however seems to give predominance to the music, so much so that I'm always forced to turn the volume down each time a music-cue is played, and the sound effects barely rate a mention comparitively.  The English voice-acting in this dub is typically American-Dude lingo but it sort of suits the outrageousness of the movie and its characters, so I'm more forgiving of it.  Neither of these soundtracks provides much in rear-speaker or sub-woofer activity though, but there is enough to prove that they are at least working.

Extras
Where do I start?  This collection of supplemental material is wonderful, not only because of the amount available but also for their replay value.  The main list of extras include the Interview Showcase, Audio Commentary, Out-takes Montage and Animated Biographies.

City Hunter
The Interview Showcase comprises of actors Jackie Chan (3 mins), Richard Norton (15 mins) and Gary Daniels (30 mins).

The worrying part of this collection is that Jackie Chan's interview is pretty uninspiring, and for this reason we are lucky that it only lasts as long as it does.  However, the other two actors' interviews are very insightful and entertaining personal accounts of their experiences with Jackie Chan and of Hong Kong films in general.  Richard Norton (aka gwailo #1) talks mostly about his understanding of what Hong Kong film-makers expect of their actors and crew.  Gary Daniels (aka gwailo #2) talks more about his life-long martial arts experiences, and this is interceded with further behind-the-scenes glimpses on the filming of City Hunter not shown elsewhere on this disc.  All in all, a very valuable resource.

The Audio Commentary is provided by Bey Logan, who is best known to Hong Kong film fans as a reviewer of HK action flicks from 'Impact' magazine.

Bey Logan provides a non-stop rollercoaster of information that was obviously thoroughly pre-prepared before recording, and is well worth a few listens to catch all the trivia he comes up with!   If you want to know everything regarding the film's cast and crew, Hong Kong film-making, as well as the general history behind the City Hunter phenomenon in its native Japan, look no further.

The Out-takes Montage entails the entire end-credits sequence as well as some home video footage of the behind-the-scenes action.

The out-takes section is the same as that found at the end of the movie minus the scrolling credits, but the screen ratio has been oddly modified from the original 1.85:1 to the smaller 2.35:1 (which makes everyone look fatter).  The home-video section is pretty much b-roll type footage that probably wasn't very usable for the interview galleries described above (it doesn't actually contain mistakes on-set, just the preparation of the stunt sequences).  It's especially interesting to see how the StreetFighter 2 sequences were devised and filmed.  The entire collection is set to a funky technomusic track but the video quality is unfortunately not of very good quality, it's a welcome addition nonetheless.

The Animated Biographies provide a general film history of the star Jackie Chan and his female co-star Joey Wong.

These are what I would call "personality promotions", it discusses mainly what their inspirations were in their lives rather than conveying any factual information about their movies.  The text slowly crawls up the screen whilst being narrated by an unknown voice-over.  This format seems to suit the material, as I'm sure I wouldn't give two hoots if it was in plain read-only text.

The other extras comprise of a very small photo gallery, two City Hunter trailers, and ten other HKL promotional trailers for their upcoming titles.

Summary
Before I even knew about 'City Hunter', my first Jackie Chan experiences began with 'Rumble In The Bronx' and 'First Strike' (as with most people I expect).  So when I finally rented a VHS copy of City Hunter I honestly thought that it would have been my first and last viewing of it.  I think it was the shocking quality of the VHS tape that initially put me off (or maybe because the action didn't begin until well into the second half of the feature, so I guess I tended to nod off when it finally happened :-).  But with this new HKL DVD, I can now either chapter-skip right into the action or indulge my guilty-pleasure chip and watch it in its entirety.  And the wonderful set of extras is a veritable goldmine that I will be watching time and time again.

I'm sure that even the most ardent of Jackie Chan fans may find this movie difficult to appreciate at first, as it may well take a few viewings to get past the barrier of absurdity that is there only for the sake of the comic book.  The character of Ryu Saeba is probably the furthest removed from Jackie Chan's on-screen persona as you can possibly get (which is pretty much the same problem he had when he was asked to become 'The Next Bruce Lee') - you just can't watch him pretending to be something he's not.  However, this movie is ultimately worth the effort for his familiar brand of action and humour, and for this reason it makes a worthwhile addition to any avid Jackie Chan collector's library.

By the way, be sure not to skip the 'StreetFighter 2 Arcade Game' homage in the film, it'll have you in stitches!  (Also, the meaning of 'gwailo' is a none-too-flattering term given by Hong Kong/Taiwan locals to white-skinned people - it literally means 'White Devil').


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