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Dragon Lord : Don't be confused, This is a good film.
Christopher J. Jarmick | Seattle, Wa. USA | 08/10/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Dragon Lord is the first good Jackie Chan film. All the elements of a classic Jackie Chan film came together in this film for the first time: 1) The well-trained but clumsy underdog hero whose adolescent tendencies get him into big trouble. 2) The use of almost cartoonish humor, blended with spectacular, sometimes death defying stunt work 3)sometimes brutal hand to hand fights with a bare minimum of bone breaking sound effects or blood. This was only the second film Jackie directed. His first was Young Master and that film established Jackie as the martial arts Buster Keaton. However that film could not break out of the utterly formulaic restrictions the martial arts film and producers insisted upon. Dragon Lord does change the formula and drastically. It also was not a box office success in Hong Kong and Jackie would work with his friends and Sammo (and fufill his contractual obligation to appear in the dreadful Cannonball Run 2 in 1983) before directing his first full-fledged Chan-masterpiece Project A in 1984. Dragon Lord was originally conceived as a sequel to Young Master, to be called Young Master in Love. But continuity did not allow the film to be an official sequel. It was first released (barely) to the U.S. as The Dragon Strikes in 1982. At this point in his career, Jackie knew he was not going to follow in the footsteps and be the new Bruce Lee for producer director Lo Wei. He had other things in mind and almost got what he was after with Dragon Lord.For nearly the entire first hour of Dragon Lord , Dragon (Chan) and his best friend Cowboy (Mars) vie for the attentions of a young woman who's name we later learn is Sexxy. We are treated to an incredible display of stunt work in a opening title sequence of a Football game (not soccer) , Chinese Style. Forget about protective gear or the refs calling anyone for unnecessary roughness. 90 stunt people received minor injuries and Jackie hurt his chin so bad he was in pain when he tried to talk . Later Cowboy and Dragon run into a field of tall grass after a pheasant and meet a desperate man trying to hide from some thugs. The thugs start to rough up Cowboy and Dragon but realize they are just kids and not connected to the man they want.Dragon, sneaks out of his house and gets away from his studies to try and meet the young woman of his dreams but runs into his best friend and rival Cowboy. Cowboy seems to take the upper hand with a dirty trick performed in front of Dragon's father. But Dragon gets another opportunity and he has a plan. The plan involves staging an attack so that supposedly Cowboy can be a hero, but instead it's Dragon that is about to become a hero. Tempers flare however and Cowboy and Dragon fight and it becomes clear the attack was staged. The girl is not impressed and Cowboy and Dragon get into trouble and stop being friends. Eventually the two friends make up and compete in a Chinese shuttlecck match which is played like soccer only instead of a ball the players use a shuttlecck )without rackets keeping it off the ground and moving it around without using their hands). The nearly fifteen minute sequence involving the playing of this game is a highlight of physical dexterity and stunt work. Picture the best hacky-sack players you have ever seen , now add non-stop acrobatics to the mix. Wow.Next Dragon tries to send a note to the girl Sexxy. The kite carrying the note blows in the wrong direction and Dragon goes to retrieve it. He finds himself on a roof top and there is a top secret illegal smuggling operation going on below him. Men with spears try to get him and they almost succeed. Smugglers are stealing Ming Vases to ship out of the country illegally.Dragon's father gives Dragon a test on his studies, and in another comic slapstick sequence Dragon manages to cheat himself through his father's examination. This eventually all leads to a show-down with the thugs and smugglers for Cowboy and Dragon and the incredible 20 minute fight sequence finale of the film. A fight sequence which is full of all of the best of Jackie's trademark moves and humor, with only the barest minimum of any wire work or trickery. It's pure Jackie acrobatics for 20 minutes straight and a must see for all Jackie fans. He would re-stage and upgrade the fight slightly (with different characters) to end the Hong Kong film version of The Protector (the American version of this film with Danny Aielo is to be avoided except for the curious to compare it to the superior Hong Kong version of the film which Jackie re-edited and directed additional martial arts sequences for -including a new ending).Dragon Lord doesn't represent Jackie's finest (look to Drunken Master 2 aka Legend of the Drunken Master and Project A part 2 for that). The first hour of the film feels too light and episodic. The use of music punctuates sequences in much the same way cartoon music is used. The sports sequences are knock-outs but they feel disconnected from the narrative of the film. It isn't until the final 40 minutes the film seems to come together when it generates a little bit of suspense and then delivers the knock out final fight sequence. Chan's direction and choreography though a bit repetitious after a while is impressive.If you like Jackie Chan at all, put this one on your must see list and if your thinking maybe you'll buy it.. it's worth having! - -Christopher J Jarmick,is the author of the steamy suspense thriller The Glass Coccon with Serena F. Holder"
Masterpiece in pieces
Christopher J. Jarmick | 09/17/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is an excellent Jackie Chan film, I've seen it on video and it's longer by about ten minutes. This DVD has cut a lot out of the original. The comedy in this movie is very funny and the fights are excellent. This DVD doesn't do it justice. One whole comedy scene is cut out. The action is still there, thank God, but the comedy adds a lot to this film, balancing it out more nicely."
Uneven, but still entertaining
Christopher J. Jarmick | 07/08/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Dragon Lord is an interesting early directorial attempt by a very young Jackie Chan. It bounces back and forth between some strange sports and an actual story involving friends and girl chasing. Some times it's good, sometimes it drags. For me, the sporting events went on too long, although the bun pyramid race was an interesting depiction of a Chinese custom. I really enjoyed the story on this one, because the friendship between Jackie and his freind "Cowboy" was very charming, and I enjoyed their boyish pranks trying to woo a girl away from each other. The bigger plot is similar to "Drunken Master 2", with theives plotting to smuggle precious artifacts out of China -- a subject Jackie obviously feels strongly about, since it occurs again in "Rush Hour". It has a couple of exciting fights, and lots of athletic clowning which I enjoyed just as much as the fights."
Same thing as Dragon Lord, just a different title.
Christopher J. Jarmick | 06/21/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"OK, basically, this one is great. The first scene is a rugbee like sporting event. THen it evolvs into a huge plot. Jackie wants a girlfriend, people try to sneak Chinese artifacts out of Asia, so on so forth. There are two fights in this movie. One is very acrobatic with nice stunts, (Jackie runs up a wall and backflips off of it, immpressive) and the second is furious. This one is worth it."
Dull sportsmovie with one awesome fight.
Christopher J. Jarmick | 04/20/1999
(2 out of 5 stars)
"OK film. The first hour is totally senseless, Jackie and his friends just fool around with some girls and there's not much action. They don't fight much, but they do play some starnge games so this film is more about sports than fights. Someone may like that, but I HATE sports. So I think it's rather boring. Still, the final buttkicking is real great. Whan Ing Sik (or whatever his name is) lauches about 64 punches & kicks to Jackie. This is worth watching, but rewind straight to the final match."