Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
Here is crucial dialogue from early in "Jackie Chan's First Strike'': "It's me! I found new suspect!'' "Who is he?'' "I don't know!'' Right there you have the beauty of the Jackie Chan movies. He always finds the suspect. And he never quite knows what he's doing. In its exotic locations and elaborate stunts, this could be a James Bond movie, if Bond were a cheerful Hong Kong cop who bumbles into the middle of the action by accident and fights his way out in sheer desperation.
Chan is said to be the world's top action star--except in the United States, which has resisted most of his 40-plus pictures. Now he is engaged in a campaign to conquer this last frontier; in 1996, we got "Rumble In The Bronx" and "Supercop,'' and this year we get "Jackie Chan's First Strike'' and "Thunderbolt.'' All are dubbed in English, mostly by Chan and the other actors themselves.
What makes him popular is not just his stunts (he is famous for doing them all himself) but his attitude while doing them: After a downhill ski chase in his shirt-sleeves, his teeth chatter. When he's submerged in an icy lake, he desperately rubs his hands together for warmth. He wants our sympathy. And there is a sporting innocence in the action: Chan never uses a gun, there is no gore and not much blood, and he'd rather knock someone out than kill him.
The plot of "Jackie Chan's First Strike'' is surrealistic. Chan plays a Hong Kong cop named Jackie, who is assigned to follow the mysterious Natasha on a flight to Ukraine (he carefully makes a note every time she goes to the airplane toilet). In snow-covered Ukraine, he stumbles into a plot involving conspirators who want to steal the warhead of a nuclear missile.