Movie Review By Heather Clisby
"Mr. Nice Guy" is Jackie Chan's first movie filmed almost entirely in English using a non-Asian cast. Some things just don't translate well, like, for example, acting.
Mind you, no one flocks to Jackie Chan films to witness highbrow emoting, they come to see Jackie move with precision and comedic grace while fending off scores of Bad Guys. In this regard, "Mr. Nice Guy" will not let you down.
The plot is ridiculous and incidental, which is fine, it leaves plenty of space for Jackie's special brand of kung-fu comedy. Jackie is a TV chef who gets mixed up with a journalist who posesses an incriminating videotape. Inevitably, the sadistic drug lord, Giancarlo (played by Richard Norton,) and an opposing gang called The Demons go after Jackie thinking he has it.
Directed by longtime Chan collaborator, Sammo Hung, "Mr. Nice Guy" was made for Western audiences and filmed in Melbourne, Australia. Nearly every cast member is a martial arts expert first and actor second, or possibly even third. At times, the corniness worked in sync with the action but mostly, it was just painful to endure; you simply had to wait it out to get the reward of another artful fight scene.
Worst of all was American actress Karen McLymont, playing Jackie's assistant, Lakeisha. Everytime she opened her mouth, I actually looked at the floor and got embarrassed for her. She was awful but I had to remember that this film was shot Hong Kong style, that means no script, they just tell you your lines in make-up.
Oh, but the teaming of Hung and Jackie is superb entertainment, they really know their slapstick. There's nobody in filmdom giving such due respect to the physical brilliance of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and . . . Bruce Lee. Chan has carved a unique and irreplaceable niche for himself and fans can't get enough.
Why? Because when he's not wowing us with his creative fighting abilities, he reminds us that comedy doesn't always need to be sublime or even clever. In "Mr. Nice Guy" we get a smashed fruit stand, a destroyed wedding cake, bumbling keystone cops and a delightful circular-saw-heading-for-the-sensitive-body-part scene. This is nostalgia, kids, stuff of The Three Stooges and Laurel & Hardy skits.
"Mr. Nice Guy" is hokey, dumb and silly but the vicarious thrills are boundless, such as destroying a palatial mansion with a 120-ton truck. Chan is sheer joy to watch but he and Hung shouldn't do us any favors and stick to Cantonese.
© 1999 - Heather Clisby - Air Date: 3/18/98
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