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Pretty much everyone knows who Jackie Chan is, whether it be from his original work in the Far East to his newer Hollywood work including Shanghai Noon, The Tuxedo and of course, Rush Hour. Crazy stunts, fast fighting and perfect choreography make all his films well enjoyed the world over. While many of us are familiar with his newer work, he didn’t just spring up out of the woodwork you know! He has been making films for years, and Project A part 2 is the sequel to one of his most famous non-Hollywood produced films.

Project A Part 2
The Film
Shock! Horror! This film is not in English! Well that’s a tiny lie, as there is an English dub of the original Cantonese soundtrack however, dubbed tracks just aren’t right so I will always recommend watching a film in its original language with subtitles. One of the main reasons for this is that (apart from it looking silly with people mouthing one thing and saying another) subtitle tracks are generally a better representation of what was originally said on screen, where as with the dubbed track sentences have to be changed to keep the length of the dialogue consistent with the amount of time each character has to speak on screen. You can imagine a situation where one character has not finished talking when the next has already started. It wouldn’t work. So what are the reasons for watching this film if it’s not in English? Well this certainly isn’t one of Chan’s first films; however it does have a decent following. Unfortunately the amusing Sammo Hung could not make it back for the second film, which is a shame as he is always good.

The story follows on from the first film. Coast Guard Officer Dragon Ma (Chan) returns from removing the pirates from the seas surrounding Hong Kong, and is asked to join the police force to help fight crime in a local suburb. This leads to the uncovering of how much power the local crime lords have, owning most of the police including the corrupt superintendent. It’s up to Dragon Ma and whichever non-corrupt policemen he can recruit to save the day. To top it all off, the pirates from the first film are back with revenge on their minds, so not only has Dragon Ma got to deal with his work, but the down and out pirates too!

You probably know already that Jackie Chan does most of his own stunts. In fact because he couldn’t get anyone to insure him he had to open his own insurance company for stunt men, so that he could continue to make films. One of my favourite stunts was from Police Story when he runs across several lanes of traffic on a motorway with cars racing past him. He is truly a mad man. This film is little different, with him swinging from light fittings, leaping from structure to structure and at one point, standing still while scaffolding topples over around him. Nerves of steel that man, nerves of steel. There is also a scene when he has to stuff his face with raw red chilli peppers for use against the bad guys. How he did that I’ll never know!

Video
Nothing too fancy here. Hong Kong Legends have managed to clean up the print a little, but back in the late eighties, good stock was still expensive. Chinese film studios make an inordinate amount of films and making them all on good quality stock is far too expensive, so a lot are produced on a stock of lesser quality to keep costs down. The picture is soft at times, and quite flat at others. Colours lack depth occasionally and indoor scenes often have a glow around the white of people’s clothes. Presented in 2.35:1 and anamorphically enhanced, this print is acceptable.

Project A Part 2
Audio
The soundtracks are both in Dolby Digital 5.1 (Cantonese and English). Use of the surround speakers is highly limited, if used at all. The front centre speaker does almost all of the work in the film, which is perhaps a shame as there are a lot of things crashing and falling over. These sound effects could have been made into a decent enough 5.1 mix. However, the amount that would have cost against expected revenues probably makes it a moot point.

Extras
The first extra is the trailers section, selectable from the semi animated menus. The first trailer is the UK Promotional Trailer for this DVD. A little cheeky in that not one word of dialogue is spoken by the cast throughout, perhaps leading people to believe it is an English language film. As a result of this all that can be shown are the stunts and fighting, which is a shame as most of the good stunts are in the trailer, so people seeing that trailer have basically seen a lot of the great points in the film already. The second trailer on offer is the Theatrical Trailer for the film, complete with the subtitles lyrics of the films theme song (sung by Jackie himself). It also features a lot of behind the scenes shots of Chan directing different parts of the film, making it a little different to how we are used to seeing trailers from Hollywood.

Project A Part 2
Next up are two interviews, the first being with Chan Wai Man who plays the main baddie. It’s a great interview in which he talks for nearly twenty minutes about all the different styles of martial arts he has practiced, the competitions he entered, working with Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee and Sammo Hung and how fighting has changed over the years. I really enjoyed it. Definitely an extra to watch. The next interview is called Warrior 2: An Inside Look At The Action of Project A2 hosted by Bey Logan with stuntman Anthony Carpio. Logan is a regular in Hong Kong Legends DVDs and he talks a lot. The “high five” he gives XX is cringe worthy and he asks a lot of leading questions which he seems to know the answers to however, some of the answers he gets are interesting enough. If I hear him say “wow” again I am going to want to hurt him. This runs for 24 minutes. The next extra is a short section showing the cover art for other Hong Kong Legends DVDs which includes a postal address, web site address and email address for any further information you require on their products.

The last extra is an Audio Commentary with, you’ve guessed it – Bey Logan. While annoying in the interview, the commentary is information packed and a lot better. However, he barely stops for breath which can leave you reeling for a pause in the information onslaught. He certainly knows his stuff! Since the commentary is just him, there is no-one to interrupt him and he does not need to finish other peoples answers for them, so he basically doesn’t stop for the entire film. A little much for me, but certainly a mine of information for the fans.

Overall
Even with the irritating Logan interview, this package is pretty tight. The film itself isn’t bad at all and the Chan Wai Man interview is excellent. While not as good as the first film, if you liked the original then I’d say check this out. The axe throwing scene is pretty clever stuff and seeing Jackie Chan sing the theme song during the end credits is also pretty funny. Oh, and as expected/required, the end credits also come complete with a few of the stunts that inevitably went wrong during production. Not a critical purchase that will have people queuing outside the shops for, but a mildly entertaining evenings viewing.


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