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.
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.
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.
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
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,
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.
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)