Project A Part II (1987)

Jackie Chan stars in and directs this action-packed sequel to his pirate-busting smash hit.

Trailer

Cast

Action legend Jackie Chan returns as “Sergeant Dragon Ma”, who is assigned from the Marine Guard to the police to investigate suspected corruption.

Best remembered for playing “May”, Jackie Chan’s long-suffering girlfriend in the “Police Story” movies Maggie Cheung co-stars as “Yesan/Maggie”. She has acquitted herself as both a respected dramatic and comedy actress, and as an action star, in films as diverse as “The Iceman Cometh”, “As Tears Go By”, “In the Mood for Love”, “Moon Warriors”, “The Heroic Trio” and “Hero“. Another of Jackie’s regular co-stars is Bill Tung in a familiar role as “Chief Inspector Tung”.

Jet Li’s co-star from the “Once Upon a Time in China” films, Rosamund Kwan plays “Miss Pak”. She had previously starred alongside Jackie Chan in “Armour of God“.

Taiwanese actor David Lam Wai plays “Superintendent Chun”. Having started in bit part roles at Shaw Brothers studios, he established himself as a lead actor, featuring in numerous crime, action, and gangster films throughout the 1980’s and 90’s. He has appeared in “Police Assassins“, “A Chinese Ghost Story” and “Royal Warriors”.

Hong Kong actress Carina Lau plays “Carina”. She has had a long and varied career starring in films such as “Armour of God”, “Days of Being Wild”, “She Shoots Straight”, “The Banquet” and “Ashes of Time”. In recent years Lau played “Empress Wu” in Tsui Hark’s “Detective Dee” movies, for which she won a Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actress.

Plot

Following straight on from the previous film, Sergeant Dragon Ma is assigned to the Sai Wan police district to investigate Superintendent Chun. Chun is suspected of staging arrests to bolster his impressive record, whilst allowing Tiger, a local gangster, to run his gambling dens and other illegal businesses.

Dragon Ma meets Yesan and her cousin Carina at a teahouse, where they are selling flowers to raise funds for the Chinese revolutionaries led by Dr Sun Yat-sen.

Having confronted and arrested Tiger and his gang, Dragon Ma is put in charge of the Governor’s security for a birthday ball he is throwing for his adopted daughter. After the ball, Carina is kidnapped by agents of the Empress Dowager because of her links to the revolutionaries.

Dragon must rescue Carina whilst evading corrupt police, Imperial agents, anti-Manchu revolutionaries, pro-Manchu loyalists, gangsters and axe-wielding pirates looking for revenge after the events of the first film!

Action

The action begins immediately with highlights of some of the best stunts and fights from the first film. David Lam Wai initiates the action for this film when he leaps into action to capture and arrest some jewel thieves. He makes a brief but impressive debut with his kicks and throws.

Jackie Chan’s first foray into the action sees him chasing after some purse-snatchers. He leaps from the top floor of a teahouse, across the street to the building opposite, then slides down the signage before taking out the would-be thieves. Jackie next has a fight with three police officers in an office. He is the master of this type of sequence as he uses police batons, chairs, tables, cups of tea and hats to make the scene innovative and fun.

Jackie and his team confront the local gangsters setting up a sequence of stunts and fighting that is often used in highlight reels of his prolific career. The fighting style is much like his work in the first “Police Story” film, with fast moves and hard falls. There are still some comic moments with fighters accidentally bashing their own heads or taking a nasty tumble on a staircase. One of the great things about this sequence is that Jackie doesn’t hog the limelight, as his stunt team perform some of the best flips and falls, giving the audience a great variety, although Jackie himself does perform a very impressive stair fall. The scene concludes with an astonishing stunt from Jackie’s team as the gang boss falls from a first floor balcony onto a large china vase. Filmed in slow motion, you can feel the impact as he first hits the vase and then bounces on the wooden floor below.

Showing his technical mastery of film, something which is often overlooked in Jackie’s work, there is a great comic sequence where he hides against some paintings in a darkened room. His love of silent-movie era comedy really comes to the fore when Jackie is handcuffed to David Lam Wai and they are pursued by an axe-wielding gang. As one of them goes over an obstacle, the other goes under, as one dodges left, the other dodges right. It’s all performed with great timing and is guaranteed to cause a chuckle. It also makes many of the stunts doubly-dangerous as the manacled pair leap from balconies or through windows. There are lots of nice additional touches such as Jackie pulling a tablecloth off a table without smashing the crockery to fell an attacker.

The film’s climax is almost twenty minutes long and is virtually a CV of all of Jackie Chan’s skills. He has rooftop fights, makes huge leaps from one building to the next, takes full force hits resulting in hard falls, rolls and slides down ladders, and uses everything in his environment. There is a fight in a revolving cage and Jackie even uses some fresh chillies from the market as a weapon! Everything moves at a blistering speed and is continually punctuated by some incredible stunt falls.

The crowning stunt is an homage to a similar famous feat performed by Buster Keaton. Shot on several cameras, Jackie runs and slides down the falling front of a bamboo building. Shortly after, a second frontage falls on his head!

The trademark outtakes are an entertaining mix of funny and often painful mishaps, but always a reminder of the incredible risks Jackie Chan and his team take in creating the sequences you have just witnessed.

Summary

The first “Project A” movie was a Jackie Chan vehicle that included some inspired scenes involving his Chinese opera brothers, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao, who are absent from this film.

This sequel is definitely all about Jackie Chan and that is reflected in the slightly different style of the action. Jackie has always stated that he is a big fan of the silent movies of Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd, and their influence has never been more evident than in this film. “Project A Part II” is much lighter on the martial arts, focusing more on stunts and chases. The supporting cast all perform well in their roles, especially Maggie Cheung, who has great comic timing, but they are definitely just supporting roles.

Jackie is the star here and shines bright in the lead. Every set-piece be it action or comedy, fizzes with his trademark energy and timing. Aside from the action, the film also features some great-looking period sets and costumes, which Jackie probably only did better in his own personal favourite movie, “Miracles”. The plot, as is often the case in this type of film, isn’t really that great to follow, but just there to move the audience along to the next action sequence. But that’s not a bad thing when those sequences are of this quality.

The 1980’s were really a golden era for Jackie Chan and this film is right in there among his other classics to emerge from that decade. Some fans might have preferred to have seen more fighting, but you can’t help but enjoy Jackie Chan’s superior style of action!

Trivia

  • Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao did not appear in the “Project A” sequel because they were shooting the film “Eastern Condors“.
  • Jackie Chan won Best Action Choreography for “Project A Part II” at the 1988 Hong Kong Film Awards.
  • The stunt where the house frontage falls down is an homage to the 1928 silent film “Steamboat Bill, Jr.”, which starred Jackie Chan’s hero Buster Keaton.
  • In 1990, actress Carina Lau was abducted for several hours, and topless photos of her were taken. It was believed that the man behind the kidnapping is Albert Yeung, a successful businessman with whom Lau was having a financial dispute. Leung has said that Lau never wanted to talk about what happened in those missing hours with anyone, including him. Lau revealed in 2008 that she was abducted by four men working for a triad boss, as “punishment” for having refused a film offer. Lau said that she had not been taken advantage of during her two-hour ordeal.

Film Rating: 8/10

Influenced by the movies of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, Glen began training in martial arts and gymnastics in 1995. He made his first of many visits to Malaysia and Singapore in 1998 to learn Chin Woo kung fu under the supervision of Master Teng Wie Yoo. Glen is the author of "The Art of Coaching" and "Fearless The Story of Chin Woo Kung Fu", and runs a kung fu & kickboxing school in Hertfordshire, England.

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