Operation Condor

on July 18, 1997 by Susan Lambert
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   The third time's the charm for Jackie Chan ("Rumble in the Bronx"): His latest import sports non-stop fun and madcap mayhem. Miramax's Dimension label has done a good job of tightening the original 1991 Hong Kong film (entitled "Armor of God II: Operation Condor"). The sequel has little to do with the original 1987 "Armor of God" (which Jackie Chan also directed and starred in) except for the leading character: Jackie (code name: Condor), a world-traveling Chinese Indiana Jones/James Bond. "Operation Condor" is one of the best Chan movies and the first Chan-directed film to be released in America. Most importantly, Dimension has made sure to secure a PG-13 rating (as opposed to the R rating given to both New Line's "Rumble in the Bronx" and "Supercop"), thus expanding the movie audience to include those in America who might most appreciate Chan's blend of goofy humor and endless action--young teenagers.
   The story by Chan standards is straightforward and surprisingly solid, if simple and often silly. Jackie is sent by the United Nations to track down 240 tons of stolen gold hidden in the Sahara Desert by German soldiers during World War II. The soldiers--and the gold--disappeared, never to be heard from again. Joining Jackie on his mission is a Sahara expert (Carol Cheng), a German granddaughter of one of the missing soldiers (Eva Cobo De Garcia) and a wandering artist (Shoko Ikeda). Along the way they, battle desert raiders and a renegade band of international terrorists who also want the gold.
   Any Chan film is really just an excuse for extended chase sequences and spectacular fight scenes that highlight Chan's physical prowess and comic timing. Chan's high action/comedy hijinks are in top form here; the beauty of his movement, grace and charm is, as always, a wonder to behold. Chan the star always overshadows the importance of Chan the director, who is arguably one of the greatest action filmmakers in the world. Along with the trim, Dimension adds a slick new soundtrack and a not-all-that titillating title sequence. But, although the sound effects do much to enhance the enjoyment of the film, the dubbing quality is quite poor and annoyingly difficult to understand (much more so than in the other two "Americanized" Chan films). But the banal music is the biggest disappointment and saps the film's energy completely. Still, the final fight scene in an underground Nazi wind tunnel is a work of absolute genius and not to be missed for any reason. Starring Jackie Chan, Carol Cheng, Eva Cobo De Garcia and Shoko Ikeda. Directed by Jackie Chan. Written by Jackie Chan and Edward Tang. Produced by Leonard Ho. A Dimension/Miramax release. Action/Adventure. Rated PG-13 for martial arts action and some shootings, and for sensuality. Running time: 103 min
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