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Patrick Schoenmaker

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Operation Condor

Released by Dimension Films - 1990

Directed by: Jackie Chan
Written by: Jackie Chan & Edward Tang
Produced by: Raymond Chow & Leonard Ho

Jackie Chan .... Jackie Condor
Carol 'Do Do' Cheng .... Ada
Eva Cobo .... Elsa
Shôko Ikeda .... Momoko
Daniel Mintz .... Amon
Aldo Sambrell .... Adolf


While Jackie Chan has been a superstar for many years in his native Asia, he has only recently become a worldwide phenomenon. Up until a few years ago, the only Westerners who knew of him were the film geeks who collected his subtitled import videos. With the redistribution of Rumble in the Bronx by New Line Cinema in the late 1990s, Jackie Chan mania hit the western world. Dimension Films and New Line Cinema battled to pick up distribution rights to many of his older films while Jackie himself went on to film the blockbuster hits Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon for the United States.

Dimension scored big when they bought the rights to one of Jackie Chan's more interesting properties, a film Chan directed called Operation Condor. It is well known that Jackie Chan has always greatly admired Hollywood cinema and his love of action and adventure encompasses a great interest in the character Indiana Jones. His love for Indiana Jones inspired him to create a character code-named Condor, a rogue fortune seeker who works for a wealthy art collector acquiring rare antiquities from all over the world.

In Operation Condor, Jackie (as Condor) learns of a large cache of Nazi gold that has been lost since the war. Many governments know of its existence, but not its location. Condor must find the secret Nazi base and reclaim the gold before other governments or thieves get their hands on it. Armed only with his wits, fists, and an old Nazi base key, Jackie sets out to North Africa to find the Nazi base before the bad guys do. What follows is a crazy, action packed adventure with Jackie Chan pulling off some of the most outrageous stunts of his career during the film.

Operation Condor pays homage to Indiana Jones in many ways. The opening sequence of the film mimics all of the Indiana Jones films with a mini-adventure in which Condor treks into the jungle to find some emeralds. Only he comes face to face with angry native warriors who run him off, much like the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark. In fact, at the climax of the first scene, there is a "boulder" but it so happens that the boulder is Condor himself. Watch and see.

Condor sports a trademark outfit during his treks that consists of an army green belt bag that looks very similar to Indy's shoulder bag. The adventure itself is an homage to Raiders of the Lost Ark, with Condor trekking across the desert to find a Nazi base, the actual sets of which look like a place Indy might have been sneaking around in sixty years earlier. Throughout the film, Condor finds himself in street chases, desert journeys, and harrowing battles with spear wielding tribesmen.
There is a great scene in which Condor and his female companions are forced to figure out the combination to a large vault door by the bad men. This particular door is rigged with lethal machine guns and a number of bad men die by their bullets until Condor is forced center stage. This scene is very similar to the moment in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, when Donovan forces Indy to go through the Grail challenges. The female companions seem to be like a triple threat of Willie from Temple of Doom in most scenes, wailing and alerting Condor to danger. However, there is a great scene in which Condor must fight two thugs in a Nazi wind tunnel facility and the women try to help him by manipulating the wind force in the room. It reminded this writer of Marion aiding Indy during the fight by the flying wing in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Overall, this is a great film with the Indiana Jones spirit, complete with jaw-dropping stunts and action that would impress Indy himself. However, it must be remembered that Jackie Chan enjoys a lighter style of entertainment and hence, Operation Condor is a comedy by nature. There is a lighter, more fun-spirited feel to the film, which may disconcert serious adventure lovers. It certainly does not contain the gritty realism of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Interestingly, Operation Condor is actually the sequel to another Condor adventure entitled The Armour of the Gods (known as Operation Condor 2 in the United States), another Indiana Jones style romp. Check these out if you like wild adventure! (MF)


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