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City Hunter (1992)
Director: Wong Jing

review by Steven Hampton

Hired to find a runaway heiress (Goto Kumiko, a former Miss Japan beauty) for a wealthy tabloid newspaper owner, private eye Ryu (Jackie Chan) traces the girl to a pleasure cruise ship, and is forced to stowaway in order to keep track of her...
   City Hunter is based on a popular manga. It deftly parodies the superhero and detective genres with a clowning hero involved in slapstick cartoon action with bells and whistles, glamorous daydreams in primary colours, and screwball romantic comedy sequences in Chan's inimitably camp Hong Kong style. There's skateboarding through traffic, an impromptu musical number in the seagoing dance club, and fantasy kung fu duels that cleverly mimic the antics of videogame characters. A gang of villains (led by Australian martial artist Richard Norton) hijack the ship, planning to rob millionaire passengers. Among the heroes is a professional gambler who throws playing cards like darts, and the delightfully talented and pretty starlet Chingamy Yau (of Naked Killer fame) as a gun-toting secret agent.
   Chan fights several bouts in a number of styles, from acrobatic farce to special effects indoor flying, impressively choreographed hand weapons, and excitingly staged gun battles. The ship itself provides a wide range of settings for non-stop action scenes, which switch and focus and grow from nimble fun to breathtaking spectacle with pleasing speed and economy. The flimsy plot (there's wasn't any sort of proper script, just lines for each scene) is simply an excuse for displays of physical and filmmaking skills but, when the end results are just as enthralling as real storytelling, to complain about the frame would be churlish when it's the picture that matters. Chan ogles, sneers, grimaces, mugs, poses, kicks, leaps, shoots, punches, and falls down (laughing optional). What japes, what panache!
previously published online, VideoVista #27
City Hunter
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