[Screen It]


(1998) (Jackie Chan, Richard Norton) (PG-13)

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Action/Adventure: A drug lord's henchmen and another gang pursue a mild-mannered TV chef, for a videotape they think he has, after he comes to the aide of a TV reporter who just videotaped their criminal activity.
Jackie (JACKIE CHAN) is a popular TV chef in Melbourne, Australia who comes to the aide of Diana (GABRIELLE FITZPATRICK), a TV reporter who's fleeing from several groups of thugs she's just videotaped while in the midst of a drug purchase and then shootout. It seems that the Demons, a local gang, were selling cocaine to a group of men who work for Giancarlo (RICHARD NORTON), a local and very powerful drug kingpin.

After Jackie has saved her life, Diana accidentally mixes up her videotape with one of Jackie's cooking tapes. Soon both groups come looking for the incriminating videotape, and Jackie must fight them off while trying to rescue his girlfriend Miki (MIKI LEE), whom the Demons have kidnaped. With the assistance of his aide Lakisha (KAREN MCLYMONT) and his police officer friend, Romeo (VINCE POLETTO), Jackie tries to save Miki from both the Demons and Giancarlo.

If they're fans of Chan and his films, or other martial arts films, they probably will.
For pervasive action violence, some sensuality and drug content.
  • JACKIE CHAN plays an unassuming chef who must fight off two groups of bad guys while trying to save his girlfriend. His only "bad" traits are his amazing martial arts skills and death-defying stunts that some kids may try to imitate (with less than successful results).
  • RICHARD NORTON plays a standard-issue drug kingpin and general bad guy.
  • GABRIELLE FITZPATRICK plays a TV reporter who isn't given much to do other than run from the bad guys who pursue her.


    OUR TAKE: 3.5 out of 10
    Whenever a new film from Jackie Chan -- the Hong Kong martial arts star -- arrives on the North American shores, I'm usually one of the first to rush out and tell people that they should go and see his latest release -- especially if they've never seen one of his films before. What makes them so much fun is that they feature a hero who'd rather flee than fight, but then ends up having to fight the villains anyway, usually in wildly choreographed sequences inspired not only by Bruce Lee, but also Buster Keaton. Filled with spectacular human stunts, hordes of martial arts action, and a matching amount of self-deprecating humor, the films couldn't possibly ever win any awards for their artistic merits, but they're a heck of a lot of fun, and are always amazing to watch.

    It's sad to report, therefore, that I can't recommend his latest film, "Mr. Nice Guy," especially to those who've never attended or rented one of his films. Fans of the legendary Hong Kong star, while happy to see him on the big screen again, will also probably be disappointed by this offering. While there's the requisite martial arts fighting and perilous close calls, few of those scenes are as much fun as what Chan has delivered in the past.

    Perhaps it's that he's afflicted with the "James Bond movie" curse -- where he's done just about every imaginable stunt and it's hard to continually come up with new and betters ones -- but none of the staged elements seem fresh or original. Although there are a few interesting stunts to behold in this release -- a fun, hand over hand encounter against a passing bus while leaning off a horse drawn carriage headed in the opposite direction, for instance -- most lack the pizzaz of things we've already seen him do.

    Then again, maybe the problem is due to his unavoidable growing older every year -- he's now forty-four-years-old -- and perhaps he just can't do as much as in years past. That was especially evident in last year's release of "Operation Condor" that was actually made in 1990. Comparing that film to say, 1995's "Rumble in the Bronx" or this film, one can easily see that the years -- and the umpteen filming injuries -- may have taken their toll on his abilities.

    While still more nimble and agile than nearly every other human on Earth, Chan's beginning to show signs of slowing down. Consequently, director Sammo Hung has seemingly responded by using lots of slow-motion footage or quick cuts to cover that fact. At least let's hope that's what he's doing, because otherwise those moments look pretty cheesy, if not downright bad.

    Speaking of bad, that adequately describes the rest of the performances as well as the overall script. Although Chan's previous films haven't been anything that would make members of the Writers Guild nervous, at least the semblances of their plots were usually filled with goofy fun and adequately padded events that would appease audiences until the next stunt/fight sequence began. Not so with this film. Richard Norton (a regular in many "B" action movies) plays the stereotypical drug lord who's just a stereotypical bad guy surrounded by similarly and poorly drawn yes-men thugs. Even Chan's sidekicks are not interesting as they're relegated to little more than damsels in distress -- and make one desperately long for Michelle Khan (his female high- kicking counterpart in 1996's release of "Supercop" and recently seen in "Tomorrow Never Dies" using the name Michelle Yeoh).

    While the film has its moments (a fun, multiple opening and closing doors sequence in an under construction building comes to mind) and starts off promisingly enough -- the site and thought of Chan as a TV chef is outrageous -- it eventually weakens and withers away into a typical, horribly done "B" movie. Midway through, the film spends inordinate amounts of time focusing on the lackluster, dual groups of villains. And the ending -- where Chan drives through the bad guy's mansion in the monster truck of all monster trucks (actually a gargantuan construction "earth mover") -- is particularly bad. It's so much worse because none of it involves Chan's amazing skills, and that's further accentuated by the complete evaporation of Chan's self- deprecating humor that was present earlier in the film(instead he's worried about rescuing his girlfriend and is mad at the police for not being helping matters).

    Much like a weak punch to one's midsection that has no effect, we know what the film is trying to do, but it just doesn't have the same powerfully fun impact Chan's previous efforts have had in the past. Although it's nice to see Chan finally do one of his films entirely in English, that also somewhat lessens the "fun," but cheap effect one got from watching and listening to the (often poorly) dubbed dialogue in his other films. I hope this doesn't signal the beginning of Chan's inevitable decline. While others tout the Cary Grant quality of Asia's up and coming superstar Chow Yun-Fat (recently seen in "The Replacement Killers"), I'll take Jackie's amazing skills and great sense of humor any day. But not in this film. We give "Mr. Nice Guy" a 3.5 out of 10.

    The fact that some kids may try to imitate Chan's martial arts moves and/or death-defying stunts is probably the biggest issue of concern for most parents. While it's questionable how many kids would actually try to emulate his actions, they could -- and probably would -- get hurt doing so. Beyond that, there's a lot of martial arts fighting along with several shootings where people are wounded and/or killed, but most of it is played out in a cartoon-like fashion. Profanity is limited but does include two uses of the "s" word. Based on the poor domestic box office results of Chan's previous films, it's questionable how many kids will want to see this one. Even so, you should take a look through the content to see if it's okay for them and/or anyone else in your home.

  • We see bags of cocaine during a drug purchase -- but don't see any being used.
  • People drink wine/champagne at a wedding reception.
  • Jackie and some friends have wine with dinner.
  • Giancarlo tastes some wine.
  • A woman -- who's just been thrown into a deep hole -- has some bloody scrapes on her face.
  • We see a dead person on the floor who's just a little bloody.
  • We see various people with slightly bloody faces.
  • Both Jackie's and Giancarlo's noses (and more of the latter's face) are a little bloody after they fight.
  • Obviously both the Demons and Giancarlo and his men have both as they're criminals, deal with drugs, and use violence to get what they want. A great deal of that, however, comes off as cartoon-like, thus somewhat lessening its impact.
  • A bad guy calls a large bicyclist "fat boy."
  • Some scenes listed under "Violence" may be tense to some viewers, but most are played for their action qualities and not to be suspenseful.
  • Miki holds on between several horses pulling an out-of-control carriage as Jackie tries to save her.
  • Jackie and others have to tiptoe across a girder connecting two buildings high above an alley.
  • Jackie's trapped in a car in the path of a gargantuan construction vehicle. He gets out just in time and then tries to avoid the huge tires while underneath it.
  • Handguns/Knives/Hand Grenades: Used to threaten, wound, or kill people. See "Violence" for details.
  • Phrases: "Bitch" (used toward women a few times), "Scumbag," "Punk," "Go to hell," "Jerking us around," "Screw up" and "Idiots."
  • Some kids may try to imitate Jackie's martial arts moves and/or his wild stunts (walking across a girder above an alley, hanging from a door that leads to nowhere from a building that's under construction, etc...)
  • Jackie leaps from one moving escalator to another several times and then slides down the metal divider between two escalators.
  • Jackie must avoid the bad guys who come after him with a circular saw and then must roll over a similar table saw without slicing open his belly (kids might think that's perilously cool).
  • With his arms and legs restrained, Jackie spits in Giancarlo's face.
  • None.
  • There is a moderate amount of suspenseful and action-oriented music in the film.
  • None.
  • At least 2 "s" words, 7 damns, 3 hells, 1 ass, and 5 uses of "Oh my God" as exclamations.
  • A woman in a bathing suit shows some cleavage.
  • We see Diana in her underwear and bra several times.
  • We see an art sculpture in a storefront window that shows a woman's bare breasts.
  • Giancarlo smokes cigars in several scenes.
  • None.
  • Imitating Jackie's martial arts moves or his wild stunts (that could injure kids who probably wouldn't be able to pull them off).
  • The movie is filled with many scenes of Jackie fighting the bad guys where many martial arts punches and kicks are thrown, as are other objects, at each other.
  • A man repeatedly and violently holds a woman's head underwater in a hot tub.
  • Later, some thugs take that same woman and toss her into a deep construction pit and then dump tons of dirt on top of her (presumably burying her -- we just see the dirt starting to fall).
  • A man slams another man's face onto a stool and then punches him in the face.
  • A gun battle breaks out between the Demons and Giancarlo's men and several people are wounded and/or killed and a hand grenade explodes.
  • Jackie fights with the bad guys who then fire many shots at him and Diana as they try to escape.
  • Some bad guys throw Diana to the floor and kick her cameraman on the ground.
  • Cars crash into each other in several scenes.
  • A bad guy punches Jackie's cooking partner, others punch some cops, and Jackie then gets into a fight with more bad guys.
  • Several people falls through glass windows while others bang their heads on hanging storefront signs as an out-of-control horse drawn carriage careens down a sidewalk.
  • Lakisha swings an oar as she tries to hit Diana -- whom she thinks is an intruder -- but instead breaks many of Jackie's vases.
  • The Demons throw several hand grenades into an apartment, blowing it up and presumably killing the people who were inside it.
  • The Demons abduct Miki, while Jackie is grabbed into a van and repeatedly punched and kicked, although he later returns the same to the bad guys.
  • A bad guy threatens Jackie with a knife.
  • A female Demon holds her knife to a man's crotch and tells the man (who was threatening Miki), "Touch her again and I'll cut them (his testicles) off."
  • A female Dragon stabs one guy and punches another during a fight.
  • Some bad guys dry to cut Jackie with a circular saw during a construction set fight scene and more fighting then occurs.
  • Jackie drives a gargantuan construction vehicle through a stone privacy wall, squashes many expensive cars, and then destroys a mansion by driving through it while the bad guys shoot at him.

  • Reviewed March 16, 1998

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