City Hunter (1992)
Review by Doc Ezra

Written by Jing Wong, based on the manga by Tsukasa Hôjô
Directed by Jing Wong
Starring Jackie Chan, Mike Abbott, Gary Daniels, Joey Wong, and Kumiko Goto


Released by: Fox Home Entertainment
Region: 1
Rating: PG-13
Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: At least a rental. Chan fans may well want to hang on to it.

Ryô Saeba (Chan) is a freelance investigator and all-around problem solver. If the cops can't manage to get the results you want, just put out the word and Saeba will be on the case. That is, as soon as he wakes up from his nap where he's dreaming about dozens of beautiful women fighting over him. Which probably won't happen until his assistant Kaori (Wong) bawls him out or hits him with something repeatedly. But once distracted from his lecherous subconscious by the pain of blunt trauma, there are none better than Ryô at solving problems.

When a publishing tycoon's daughter disappears, he turns to the Saeba to find her. This leads our hero onto a cruise ship without a ticket and without his lunch, where he manages to locate not only the daughter in question but his vacationing assistant (who is less than thrilled to see him). All this happy reunion stuff comes together just in time for Ryô and company to get caught in the midst of a hijacking attempt. Now, with his stomach rumbling, Ryô must defeat the hijackers, regain control of the cruiseliner, and return to port with both the tycoon's daughter and his assistant in one piece.

City Hunter is a true-to-source adaptation of one of the most popular Japanese manga and anime series out there. Rather than attempt to tweak the original to make a standard action flick, this movie brings over the neon colors, exagerrated sets, inexplicable stunts, and hyperactive characters of the original material untouched. Kaori produces gigantic mallets from thin air to whack Ryô, odd sound effects prevail, and when Ryô gets hungry enough, the pneumatic assets of various bikini-clad passengers start to look like cheeseburgers. The end result takes a little getting used to, and makes for a truly silly movie, but nonetheless an entertaining one.

The movie also contains both the coolest and most surreal fight sequences you're likely to find in a Jackie Chan flick. Whether it's squaring off with Gary Daniels in a variety of Street Fighter costumes, taking on a pair of enormous black guys in an empty movie theatre while Bruce Lee fights Karim Abdul Jabar in Game of Death on-screen in the background, or the final showdown on the ship's main stage in the casino, fans of furious fists and insane acrobatics will find plenty to keep them glued to the screen.

The DVD treatment is great, presenting excellent anamorphic picture and stereo sound, with some nice extras thrown in for good measure. Other than Chan's most recent American films, it's unusual to see a martial arts movie get any sort of decent treatment on DVD (at least in terms of extras), so kudos to Fox for throwing all us action fans a little bone. For fans of the action genre, this one definitely merits a rental, though take the above warning about silliness to heart. If you love Jackie Chan or anime, this should make a solid addition to the collection, though hardcore otaku are likely to find enough fault with the live-action adaptation to perhaps turn them off.

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