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Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> March 1998 >> First Strike

First Strike

Movie Commentary by Scott Ventura


Scott's Rating:
2 / 5
Times Seen:
Viewing Date:
March 1998
IMDB Name:
First Strike (1996)
Stanley Tong
action, martial-arts
MPAA Rating:
PG-13 for plentiful action/violence.

When watching a Jackie Chan movie, there are certain expectations of the plot-to-fighting ratio. Drunken Master was very heavy on the fighting, which was excusable because the fighting was excellent. Operation Condor had an obvious destination for all of the fight scenes, and didn't throw in much in the way of extra plot development. First Strike suffers from an intolerably slow start that doesn't tie in to the third act enough to justify itself. The plot exposition took forever, and was very poorly acted, and gosh darnit, they weren't fighting!

Oddly, this film seems to prefer Hollywood style explosions and chases to Chan's more traditional one-on-one fighting. There's almost no room for the combat slapstick that makes Chan lovable. I'll give the movie points for creative use of a ladder, which is the most standout point in the film. Beyond that laughs are negligible. Although Jackie spends some time in a funny hat, some silly underwear, and plays with a koala, there's no feeling that the character is a fun guy, and certainly none of the other characters have any charisma!

The movie fails to make use of Chan's best features. Chan is a natural at being a nice guy on screen. He may be beating people up, but you can usually believe that he's putting everything he has into the fight. In First Strike, Chan doesn't look like he's having fun for most of the movie. He's stuck unraveling a pointless web of confusion (involving no less than the "new KGB"). Pass!

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