• Project A & Project A Part II (Eureka Entertainment) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Eureka Films
    Released on: October 29, 2018
    Director: Jackie Chan
    Cast: Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Michael Chan Wai-Man
    Year: 1983 & 1987
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    Project A - Movie Review:

    It’s turn-of-the-century Hong Kong and Jackie Chan is Sergeant “Dragon Ma” Lung, in the Royal HK Navy. They’ve been chasing a particularly nasty band of pirates for a while but with little to no success. This causes tension between the navy and the local police force who all have to fight over the same governmental funding. Boiling over into an epic massive brawl in a bar one night, Dragon then encounters cocky, by-the-rulebook Captain Tzu (Yuen Biao). This makes the situation worse and it comes to a head when the local criminals destroy all the navy ships in harbor one night.

    Left with no ships to pursue the pirates the sailors are conscripted into the local police ranks instead. And who should be heading up their intensive training but none other than Capt. Tzu! He makes things quite difficult for Dragon and his pals as he’s also quite the rule-follower. While this is going on, the story shifts to the bad guys who, now that the navy’s been dealt with, want to expand their criminal activities. They want to get their hands on some Western rifles so they enlist the mercenary services of Fei (Sammo Hung), an old friend of Dragon’s as well.

    By this point Dragon is frustrated at his whole situation so he abandons the police force to go after the pirates on his own. This draws him into partnership with Fei for a bit, until Dragon discovers Fei wants to sell the rifles to the villains. However, they soon discover that a mole in the police is trying to sell those weapons instead to the pirates. So, working with Tzu and Fei, the past problems are put aside and the three hatch a plan to infiltrate the pirates’ hidden stronghold and put an end to this once and for all. Their planning isn’t quite in sync until the final boss battle which showcases everyone’s talent at their peak here. But, thanks to working together, these disparate elements are able to eliminate the pirate threat and save the day.

    Project A Part II - Movie Review:

    The sequel begins here with a small band of pirates survived the encounter at the end of the first film. They blame Dragon Ma for their predicament and swear vengeance. Meanwhile, Dragon (Jackie Chan) has returned to the now fully-restored navy but gets pulled back into police service in order to help clean up police corruption. The case revolves around Superintendent Chun (David Lam) who is notably corrupt, staging arrests so he looks good but always looking the other way for bribes and the like.

    Dragon and a few of his team, thus deputized, set about their work and soon encounter the dirty cops. After revealing his newly-appointed role over them most of the dirty cops quit, especially when Dragon states he’s going after the main gathering of local villains, right into their stronghold. Led by the charismatically evil Awesome Wolf (Chan Wai Man) it’s a veritable rogue’s den of mean-spirited criminals, all gathered together to talk about this police crackdown. Dragon and his pals have their work cut out for them and the scene nearly does them in until Dragon’s navy pals show up en masse and help him arrest all these criminals.

    After that big break, Chun sees Dragon for the threat he is and begins to plan accordingly. At this same time, there’s a subplot about the Chinese Revolution on the mainland and those working in Hong Kong to help that effort. This primarily involves Dragon’s love interest, Yesan (Maggie Cheung), her rich friend Beattie (Carina Lau) and Miss Pak (Rosamund Kwan). The revolutionaries obviously don’t trust the cops and, at a fancy party at Beattie’s, try to frame Dragon for theft, to get him out of the picture.

    As the events begin to unfold and the mainland villains show up to steal antiques the revolutionaries realize they need Dragon’s help and that of the good cops. So, now, Dragon is working to try and bring down corrupt Chun, help his new revolutionary friends and, also, escape the relentless pirate gang that has marked him for death. This provides many outstanding set pieces for the trademark Jackie Chan action-comedy that he’s now know for. And, again, eventually Dragon is able to win over his critics, get everyone fighting together against common enemies, and even winning over the pirates by being such a “righteous man.”

    Project A & Project A Part II - Blu-Ray Review:

    Both films are presented in the brand-new 2k restoration in full 1080p on separate 50GB disc and, as a fan of these films, I have to say they look absolutely gorgeous. The muddiness and/or washed-out look that’s typically plagued previous releases are all totally gone here. The colors pop without overwhelming and the lighting is sharp and even. These releases from Eureka! look as good as they sound.

    Audio options are available in lossless 24-bit original Chinese Mono as well as both DTS-HD 5.1 Chinese & English. The original soundtrack is absolutely stellar in this presentation, clear and crisp with no issues at all and a fully-realized audio range. Optional subtitles are provided in English.

    Extras for Project A begin with an Interview w/ Tony Rayns, :38 min. Here he gives an overview of HK cinema’s emergence in the 70s and how Golden Harvest began. how Bruce Lee opened the floodgates for international interest, HK producers had to raise their production quality, talks how JC got his start, then gets to this movie and its production, the “seven little fortunes” and the JC Stunt team

    Interview with Lee Hoi San, :22 minutes. The long-time vet talks about his career with both Kung fu and movies, how each action director uses different king fu styles when making movies, then talks specifically about Project A. Tattooed eyebrows notwithstanding he ends with a sincere appeal about being a movie villain but a nice guy IRL and you should write to him if you have any complaints; finishes with a demo of some wing Chun too!

    Interview with Yuen Biao, :18 minutes. Focuses on opera training primarily, describes himself as the introvert of the group, how he started out in movies by working with Sammo, ends with a statement about going to England one day

    Interview with Dick Wei, :14 minutes, wearing badass shirt (woman & eagle), talks about his career, starting w/ the Shaw Bros., typecast as a villain, working w/ Jet Li, ends by thanking fans of Chinese film for their support

    Interview w/ Michael Lai, longtime HK composer, in English, about :17 minutes of pure 80s soundtrack goodness, did some acting, produced JC’s first album at Capitol, did work for Bruce Lee as well, talks about scoring JC movies

    Deleted Scenes - 3, about :10 minutes new, first is YB training the sailors in hand-to-hand, then a dinner scene with the “remembering” Big Mouth, third is JC and SH in the bath house selling the guns w/ some additional action and finding JC a date

    Alternate end credits & outtakes

    Lunar New Year Introduction - JC would record market-specific intros to his movies that opened during this time period, this one is for Singapore & Malaysia in 1984

    2K Restoration Trailer, specific to this release apparently.

    The extras for Project A Part 2 - This cut is 1hr, :46 min., but also included is the Export Cut, from Fortune Star, at 1 hour 38 minutes, in an English dub, with Dolby Mono sound and DVD-level picture quality. This represents a British cut of the film to get it to :90 minutes so some plot points get shortened, basically.

    Interview with Tony Rayns, :36-min. Compares this to part 1 and its ambition to elevate the comedy and rely less on action. Otherwise gives a recap of the entire movie. He provides historical details for the setting of the film as well as information on some of the other actors. Also answers questions around the political aspect of this sequel. It reflected the new focus on colonialism and nationalism, calling out the HK stance of that time. Discusses Michael Hui’s movies use of comedy and how that led JC to his slapstick, “silent” comedy that crossed language barriers. Interview is intercut with stills from the movie that just seem odd, especially one that’s just a black screen. Overall tone is a bit like a British version of Joe Bob Briggs when connecting other actors’ cameos and the film’s place in HK history.

    Interview with Chan Wai Man, :20 minutes, talking a bit about his career, more about his martial arts training. Had been a boxer before acting. Uses footage from a couple of his earlier films. Discusses JC’s new action filming techniques. Also talks a bit about Bruce Lee’s style. Also a bit about Sammo Hung and the falling out they had.

    Interview with Stuntman Mars, :15 minutes, longtime JC movie actor, Peking Opera graduate, talks about getting his stage name, also talks about Bruce Lee, compares old filmmaking hardships to how it’s done now, details how he started working w/ JC and joining the Jackie Chan Stuntman Association.

    Jackie Chan: King of Action, :30 minutes, footage over a majority of his career and interviews with him and co-actors, other industry creatives, up until his role in Rush Hour.

    Someone will Know Me, a :13-minute documentary about the Jackie Chan Stuntman Association. Shot during filming of Project A Part 2 for production, Mars gets interviewed here as well, along with Chris Li and Rocky Lai; interviews some young female fans on the street, too, asks what the work is being a stuntman, featuring some great BTS footage.

    Original and export cut trailers are also included.

    All actor interviews, from the early 2000s, lament the current state of stunts and action in movies compared to this heyday they were part of.

    Project A & Project A Part II - The Final Word:

    Eureka! has assembled an outstanding collection of these two seminal Jackie Chan films here. The quality of the films themselves is truly unparalleled and very appealing, well worth the investment, appealing to those new to Chan’s films as well as to long-time fans. The films themselves also hold up incredibly well, being equal parts ridiculous and action-packed, all entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable. This collection really allows Jackie Chan to shine in his prime, demonstrating how he’s become such an international star and how fun his movies could be.

    Click on the images below for full sized Project A & Project A Part II Blu-ray screen caps!