Eureka Entertainment present for the first time on Blu-ray in the UK, from a brand new 2K restoration, one of Jackie Chan’s wildest action-comedies! Directed by Wong Jing the movie stars Jackie Chan, Joey Wong, Chingmy Yau, Richard Norton, Leon Lai and Gary Daniels.
Action superstar Jackie Chan plays private detective “Ryo Saeba”, better known as the City Hunter. Popular actress Joey Wong stars as “Kaori Makimura/Carrie”, who assists Ryo with his investigations. Joey is best known for her role in the “A Chinese Ghost Story” films, as well as featuring in movies such as “Butterfly and Sword”, “The Banquet” and “Casino Tycoon”. Japanese actress and pop idol Kumiko Goto plays “Shizuko Imamura”, the runaway daughter of the CEO of a prominent Japanese newspaper.
One of the leading Hong Kong actresses of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, Chingmy Yau stars as “Seiko Nogami”, an undercover cop. Chingmy’s most famous role was as the star of “Naked Killer”. She has regularly appeared alongside Hong Kong movie icons such as Jet Li, Andy Lau, Stephen Chow, Ekin Cheng, and Jackie Chan.
Cantopop superstar Leon Lai appears as “Kao Ta the Gambler” (AKA Kao Ta the Wanderer/Gao Da the Wanderer). Lai has acted in numerous movies including “Infernal Affairs III”, “Bodyguards and Assassins” and “Seven Swords”. He is known as one of the “Four Heavenly Kings”, a Chinese term created in June 1992 by Oriental Daily News to refer to the four biggest male entertainment/arts superstars in Hong Kong at that time, Jacky Cheung, Andy Lau, Aaron Kwok and Leon Lai.
Australian martial arts legend Richard Norton stars as “Colonel Donald ‘Don Mac’ MacDonald”. Having worked as a personal bodyguard for the likes of ABBA, The Rolling Stones, Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, David Bowie, John Belushi, Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks, Norton made his first movie appearance opposite Chuck Norris in “The Octagon”. Following a role in 1985’s “Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars”, Norton became a regular martial arts actor in many notable Hong Kong action films including “Millionaires Express”, “Magic Crystal”, and “Mr Nice Guy”.
He has gone on to appear or work as a trainer and Stunt Co-ordinator in blockbuster movies such as “Mad Max: Fury Road”, “Suicide Squad”, “Stealth”, “The Green Hornet”, “The Amazing Spider-man” and “X-Men: Dark Phoenix”. British martial artist Gary Daniels features as “Kim/MacDonald’s Henchman”. Daniels is a familiar face to martial arts action fans with roles in movies such as “Fist of the North Star”, “Bloodmoon”, “Tekken”, “The Expendables”, and “Vengeance”.
Veteran Hong Kong action star Ken Lo Wai-kwong appears as “Chen Ta-wen”, a member of the terrorist gang. A former bodyguard to Jackie Chan, Lo has appeared in dozens of hit Hong Kong action films including “Drunken Master 2”, “Fatal Contact”, “Operation Mekong”, “Police Story 3: Supercop”, “Miracles”, “The Myth”, “SPL: Paradox“, and many, many more.
Michael Wong has a cameo as “Hideyuki Makimura”, Ryo’s former partner and brother to Kaori. Wong has had a long and varied career in Asian cinema since the eighties, appearing alongside the likes of Jackie Chan, Brandon Lee, Chow Yun Fat, Donnie Yen and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Fluent in English, Cantonese and Mandarin, he is best known for his roles in “Beast Cops”, “In the Line of Duty”, “Legacy of Rage”, “Thunderbolt”, “Knock Off”, “From Vegas to Macau” and “Skiptrace”.
The girl-chasing private detective Ryo Saeba, known as City Hunter, is hired to track down Shizuko Imamura, the runaway daughter of a publishing tycoon. Ryo initially turns the job down…until he sees a picture of the attractive missing woman! Ryo’s investigations lead him to finding Shizuko aboard a luxury cruise ship. Much to the annoyance of his exasperated assistant Kaori, Ryo seems more interested in catching Shizuko’s attention than returning her safely to her father. When terrorists hijack the ship, Ryo must put his romantic feelings aside and swing into action to dispatch the bad guys and save the day.
Featuring a cameo from Michael Wong as Jackie’s former partner, the film kicks off with a quirky, comical piece of exposition that explains how Hideyuki Makimura’s sister Kaori ends up in City Hunter’s care.
In what must have been a hugely difficult sequence to co-ordinate Jackie is chased on a skateboard by dozens of hockey stick wielding skateboarders. Although some wires are used and Jackie is obviously doubled in places, there are still some impressive skills on display, many of which are performed by the multi-talented star himself.
As the film relocates to its main maritime setting, there is a Charlie Chaplin-esque chase on the ship as the crew pursue City Hunter.
Gary Daniels has a most impressive introduction to proceedings, flexing his incredibly muscular torso. He demonstrates his supreme flexibility by rolling with ease into the splits before launching into a flurry of high kicks.
Gary Daniels Introduction
Following a bizarre musical number featuring a leather-short wearing cabaret, Cantopop superstar Leon Lai, playing a “God of Gamblers” clone, gets to show off his fighting skills.
Slightly at odds with the cartoonish, comic book humour, the movie almost becomes “Die Hard on a Cruise Liner”, as the “terrorists” seize the ship in an extremely violent fashion. Anyone who stands in their way is brutally machine-gunned down with impunity. As Jackie sneaks around the ship, he is chased into a cinema that happens to be screening Bruce Lee‘s “Game of Death”. Jackie takes inspiration from the onscreen fight between Lee and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to defeat his own giant opponent.
The “Die Hard” theme continues, but with a unique Jackie Chan flavour, as he stylishly disarms a terrorist of his weapons. It’s not often we see a machine gun-toting Jackie Chan in a film, especially one that sprays a casino with bullets as he swings across the set on a life-sized plastic dolphin!
Joey Wong has an amusing yet intricately choreographed fight sequence with Gary Daniels. The dance-like moves evolve into hard-hitting frantic fisticuffs as Jackie enters the cabin to save his assistant. During a shootout on the ship’s upper decks, Kumiko Goto performs a gymnastics beam routine, flipping and skipping over a rope being wielded by a henchman.
In one of the film’s most memorable scenes Jackie Chan and Gary Daniels inhabit characters from the popular Street Fighter arcade game. Using the game’s sound effects they even accurately recreate some of the special moves of each character. Most hilarious of all is Jackie’s turn as Chun Li!
The best of the action is saved for the finalé as Jackie faces off against Australian martial arts maestro Richard Norton. The choreography is a great example of Jackie channelling his heroes Gene Kelly and Buster Keaton into his own brand of fighting action. Norton is in particularly fine form demonstrating the versatile combat skills and rhythm that led to his consistent appearance in Hong Kong action movies. Jackie’s use of the entire set and various props to jump and flip around make it one of the most energetic actions scenes of his career.
The closing credits show the obligatory, often funny, and occasionally painful, outtakes from the making of the film.
City Hunter Theme Tune
“City Hunter” is possibly the closest we have come to witnessing a live-action Jackie Chan cartoon. Most of the humour is pretty cheesy with a few amusing moments. There are some visually striking scenes and the action sequences are continually innovative throughout. With its broad, frequently misogynistic comedy set ups, “City Hunter” could almost be called “Carry On Jackie Chan”. The strong levels of violence do seem at odds with the comic aspects. In one bizarre scene, Ken Lo quite viciously beats up a woman trying to distract him, the punchline being that he is actually attracted to one of the male passengers. But then again, Western cartoons such as Road Runner or Tom & Jerry are often accused of being excessively violent too. At one point, Jackie is smashed over the head with a giant mallet, Looney Tunes style!
Interspersing the mostly juvenile humour are some archetypal inventive Jackie Chan action scenes. He is well-supported by his co-stars and it does look like everyone is having fun throughout. The comedy elements succeed most when Jackie is doing what he does best – being a modern-day silent movie clown. Even some of the musical score plays like a silent movie of old.
Very few Westerners have been as successful in Hong Kong movies as Richard Norton. In this film he is particularly slick with a sinister veneer as the bad guy. In one of Jackie Chan’s interviews he praises Norton for not only having exceptional and versatile martial arts skills but, most importantly, understanding the rhythm of Jackie’s choreography. The finale of this movie is one of the best illustrations of that incredible rhythm and timing. British martial arts star Gary Daniels has an equally menacing role as a tough henchman, and gets some great chances to show off his fine fighting skills.
Eureka Entertainment continue to lead the way with their Blu-ray releases of classic Hong Kong movies, and “City Hunter” is no exception. The bold, vivid colours of Wong Jing’s visuals are as clean and bright as they have ever been. There are several audio options, including the original VHS English dub, and a restored 5.1 Cantonese soundtrack that really comes to life in the shootouts. The extras include extensive interviews with Jackie Chan, Richard Norton, Gary Daniels, stuntman Rocky Lai and director Wong Jing. These give detailed and fascinating insights into the making of the film.
In Jackie Chan’s rich filmography, this is certainly one of his quirkiest entries. Taken in the context of it being a live-action manga cartoon, this is a unique collection of some of his craziest and most entertaining action scenes that fans are sure to enjoy. The incredible finale featuring Richard Norton is worth the asking price alone!
- Japanese actress and singer Kumiko Goto abandoned her artistic career in 1995 when she married the French racing driver, Jean Alesi.
- There were time constraints to ensure “City Hunter” was released in time for the Chinese New Year. Near the end of filming, shots of Jackie Chan’s final fight scene with Richard Norton, had him doubled by stunt performer Mars to save time on reshoots.
- Lai was considered by Ang Lee to play “Li Mu Bai” in the film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”. He had to turn down the offer as he had an advertising contract and live concert about to start, which would not match his shaven head as was required for the role, which was eventually played by Chow Yun Fat.
- The name of the Street Fighter character was changed to “E. Honde” from “E. Honda”. This was because Chan has a contract with the Mitsubishi car company, and Honda is the name of a rival company.
- According to his book I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action, Chan dislocated his shoulder during production.
- During the skateboarding chase scene, Jackie Chan twisted his ankle as he jumped onto a skateboard. Following the injury, pro skateboarder Rick Ibaseta donned a Chan lookalike costume and performed the remainder of the scene. In other skateboard stunt scenes, Miguel Rosales, Hudson Chang and Rocky Lai were the stunt doubles for Chan.
- “Okay, I swear I will take care of her till someone takes care of me.” – Ryo Saeba (makes a promise to Hideyuki Makimura.)
- “One more thing – keep your hands off her!” – Hideyuki Makimura (in response!)
- “Have you got anything to eat?” – Ryo Saeba
- “Bubblegum” – Shizuko
- “How dare you hit my girlfriend!” – Ryo Saeba
- “Did he call me his girlfriend?” – Kaori
Film Rating: 7/10
Jackie Chan’s “City Hunter” is out for the first time on Blu-ray in the UK courtesy of Eureka Classics via Amazon! Enjoying these newly fresh-faced restored classics, which other martial arts classics would you love to see get the same treatment? Will you be looking out for the Blu-ray releases of “Project A 1 & 2” and Jet Li’s “Once Upon a Time in China” Trilogy? Let us know in the comments below; Like, share and join in the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter & Instagram. (Meantime, get yourself into a world of FU with these KFK exclusives too!)