Modestly fun comedic actioner for Jackie Chan completists
Dragon Lord was something of a pivotal film for Jackie Chan in that it saw him decisively making the move away from old school style kung fu cinema to his own distinctive brand of goofy comedy and situational fighting. Its a shame then that it isn't great (this was apparently reflected in the cold initial box office response), though its charms are enough to make it a mostly good watch even though when all is weighed up it doesn't amount to much. It's a sequel of sorts to The Young Master, following his Dragon Ma character as he slacks off, hangs out with his buddy (a likable turn from Mars) and tries to pick up various local girls, eventually getting mixed up in the plans of nefarious individuals to smuggle Chinese relics out of the country. The juvenile nature of things takes a bit of getting used to, Chan being in his late twenties at the time yet paying essentially a teenager, but his gusto and innate likability carries things well enough. It helps that one or two scenes are actually pretty amusing in a silly sort of way, like Dragon trying to cheat his way through an exam of sorts by his dad. Although there's a downright criminal lack of actual threat to near the hour mark the film doesn't completely lack action, boasting a couple of quality sporting scenes, one somewhat modelled on rugby but considerably more chaotic and the other like football but with a shuttlecock (which apparently required a record number of takes to get right). When things warm up the results are pretty cool and the climatic fight is an absolute doozy, Wong In-Sik reprising his villainy from The Young Master in a great extended bout with Chan making good use of the barn setting and plentiful trading of crunching blows, its right up there with the finales of any of Chan's bona fide classics. Its just a shame that the film as a whole is so unfocused and generally inconsequential (with little hint of anything serious until close to the halfway mark), its an easy watch but mostly forgettable until the last twenty minutes or so, I liked it well enough as I'm kind of a geek for this kind of thing but it really isn't that good. Still a 6/10 as its quite fun, but definitely a completists only film.
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