Project A: Platinum Edition
HONG KONG LEGENDS
 
Starring:
Directed By:
Jackie Chan
Year:
1983
Run Time:
101 minutes
Producer: Hong Kong Legends
_---
--
Languages:
CANTONESE 5.1, English 5.1
Subtitles:
English, Dutch
W/S Subtitles:
Yes
Ratio:
2.35:1
Region:
PAL 2 & 4
Genre:
Comedy/Action - Film = 12(UK) Extras = 15 (UK)
--
MOVIE
9/10

Few Hong Kong films evoke so many fond memories in me as Jackie Chan's Project A.
Watching in awe, some 12 years ago, as Jackie took on the South China Sea's toughest pirates, I can recall that first buzz of watching Chan in Wheels In Meals once again returning.

As with many of Chan's films, the plot is kept simple and straightforward, allowing Chan's stunt, comedy and kung-fu choreography to run free.
San-Po, a fearless pirate, is ruling the seas, robbing and killing as he goes.
Sergeant Ma (Jackie Chan), head of the Hong Kong Coastguard, is the man left to clear up the problem with the help of his squad.
However, after failing to make any headway, the Coastguard are disbanded, and forced to join the Police force, headed by the cocky young Captain Chi (Yuen Biao).
As events unfurl and Fei (Sammo Hung), Ma's old friend, appears on the scene, things begin to pick up pace, leading to an inevitable showdown with the fearsome San-Po.

With Chan book-ended by Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao, the three play off each other with an assured ease, making for some of the film's best scenes.
Action sequences consist mainly of stuntwork and comedy-orientated action, although this is more than enough when it's presented with the imagination which has become Jackie's trademark.
The one scene which always raises a smile and which I think of whenever anyone mentions this 1983 smash hit is the tea house fight involving Jackie, Sammo and a group of henchmen. The two move, kick, flip and punch in perfect unison, decimating their onrushing assailants.
The scene lasts less than 30 seconds, yet is so perfectly shot that I can't help going back to it time and time again.

As I mentioned above, the film contains some incredible stunt-work, with the high point being Jackie's fall from a clocktower through three awnings below, and onto solid ground.
Not content with just one take, Chan shows two differing falls, then after hitting the dirt gets up and delivers a line of dialogue.
It takes a few seconds to realise the magnitude of the drop, and, as is shown in the film's credits, the pain that Chan and his team went through in order to get it right.

As a spectacle, Project A continues to entertain some 19 years after its conception. It never tries to be anything other than a fun, action-packed comedy and as such delivers a tidal wave of entertainment.

PICTURE
10/10

I have to say that I'm staggered...
I realised that HKL's decision to make this release a two-disc affair meant a special transfer. However, I was totally unprepared for what HKL have managed to do for a film released in 1983.
Aside from the unavoidable grain, fluctuating contrast levels, and the odd softly detailed scene from time to time, this looks terrific.
Any worries about the print's colours having faded over time are quickly dispelled, as the transfer exhibits a vibrancy which puts some of their more recent transfers to shame.
An unequivocal triumph, and hopefully a sign of things to come.

SOUND
7/10

Almost totally centre-speaker driven, the soundtrack starts weakly with SFX being drowned out, but quickly levels out to provide a solid presentation.
Some shrillness can be heard at times, but it's more likely a weakness of the original print than anything HKL have, or haven't, done.

SUBTITLES
7/10

Some disappointing liberties are taken with the film's dialogue, but overall this is a very good translation of the film's script.
The subs are very easy to read, and are well sized, making them pleasantly unobtrusive.

EXTRAS
8/10

DISC ONE

Interview With Mars
A 15 minute feature in which Mars talks freely of his early childhood and his collaboration with Jackie. Not particularly groundbreaking but good to see the lesser known lights of
Hong Kong cinema getting the credit they deserve.

Trailers
HK Promo Trailer
Original Theatrical Trailer

Commentary
Need I even bother telling you that this is up to Bey Logan's usual high standard? No? Good!

DISC TWO


'The Tea House'

Campaign Artwork
A small selection of lobby cards and artwork.

Triple Dragons
An extensive biography about the three friends, actors and opera classmates Yuen Biao, Jackie Chan, and Sammo Hung.
Very well written and easily navigated, this may not cover any new ground for seasoned fans, but is an eye-opener for newcomers.

'The Pirate's Cave'

Master Killer
One of the greatest finds on this extras disc is this 20 minute interview with the legendary Kung-Fu actor Lee Hoi-San.
He talks of his time on Project A, along with his break into film, and concludes the interview with a demonstration of the style he practises and teaches - Wing Chun.
A required piece of viewing for any self-respecting fan of Hong Kong films.

The Pirate's Den
The softly spoken career villain Dick Wei discusses his film ?career? in another fairly short (13 minutes), but extremely illuminating, interview.
His views regarding Jackie Chan's and Sammo Hung's choreographical styles, and his feelings towards the roles he has been offered makes a change from the often anodyne interviews found on certain HKL discs.

'The Schooner'

Prodigal Son Trailer
The film which I am quite literally wetting myself in anticipation for, is presented in the HKL promo trailer.

The Elusive Dragon
Whilst not providing the kind of depth I would have liked, this interview with one of action cinema's most private of individuals is nonetheless good to see.
It's interesting to hear Biao's opinions of the future of Hong Kong cinema, and of his time with Chan and Hung, but I still feel this is a missed opportunity to find out more about the man himself.

'The Clocktower'

A Classic Revisited
Bey Logan presents this documentary from the Coast Guard's headquarters featured in the movie.

An eclectic mix of interviewee's feature in this hour-plus dissection of the film's stunts, its locations and cast.
However, the inclusion of The Daily Mirror's film critic Jessica Mellor is an odd one, mainly because she sounds as though she's just read a "Ten things to know about Jackie Chan" book, and is merely regurgitating the material...some of which sounds spookily reminiscent of Bey's 'Hong Kong Cinema' publication.

As an idea - going back to the locations the film was shot in, and giving some historical detail in the process - it's a good one. However, there's something about this documentary that feels rather lightweight and failed to spark much interest in this viewer.

Can't Stop The Music
Michael Lai conducts this English language interview enthusiastically from the confines of his music room.
Whilst I found this feature a nice departure from the usual actor and director interviews, I became increasingly frustrated by Lai's reluctance to play the keyboard he was standing behind.
He went to great lengths to explain the differing usage of the musical score, yet failed to give examples on the instruments which were so obviously at his disposal. Very disappointing.

Whilst this large roster of extras seems hugely impressive at first glance, the "In The Mood For Love" style menu composition ultimately causes problems...the problem being that I compared the two.
ITMFL's variety and breadth of extra material shows this Platinum Edition up rather badly.
A little more work, and this really would have been worthy of my wholehearted recommendation.
As it stands, I can't see myself revisiting the extras disc again.

CONCLUSION
9/10

Although I may seem to be overly harsh in my appraisal of the extras disc, it remains undeniable that it is quality, and not quantity, which makes or breaks Platinum Edition DVDs.
Luckily, the film, and its exceptional presentation, overcome these problems.
Set your sails, and go out and buy it now!

MOVIE
9/10
PICTURE
10/10
SOUND
7/10
SUBTITLES
7/10
EXTRAS
8/10
MENUS
8/10
PACKAGING
7/10
OVERALL
9/10