The Trylon’s Jackie Chan Adventures continues with the crazy historical epic Project A.
Review by Trylon regular Ben Schmidt.
Project A is a weird bird. But any bird that allows Jackie Chan, Samo Hung, and Yuen Biao to sing together is worth watching, this film being no exception. They three are a type of Voltron–each strong of their own accord, but most phenomenal together.
Do approach this screening with a patient mind, as Project A takes a while to sort itself out. In the beginning, Chan’s humorless stint in sailor suit comes across as distant and odd. It feels like work. Things happen. People argue. Boats explode, though not very well. Even the first fight scene, a bar brawl, feels uninspired.
But hang in there, dear friend. Once you reach the hand-grenade tomfoolery, know that Project A does relax and begin to have fun–as will you. And as the movie finds its footing, you’ll begin to appreciate its unsung stars. Yes, as always, Jackie Chan orchestrates ridiculous stunts, one that allegedly almost killed him. (When you see the landing, you’ll know which.) But, dear sweet Lord, do you feel the thankless work of his stunt team as they are kicked, chucked and hurtled about from one scene to the next? Though it’s often cringe-worthy, the choreography is a refreshingly earnest display of talent and discipline.
Thankfully, the brute physicality on display is balanced with Chan’s now trademark humor and playfulness. It’s far from a one-note production. Ultimately, these people are busting their bottoms to entertain you, and their effort shines, with no fancy editing or special effects to hide behind.
That being said, I shall say it again, Project A is a weird bird. This is a film that harbors both a light-hearted and surprising bicycle chase, and quite suddenly knives go plunging into the chest and legs of unfortunate pirates (which is followed by the funniest line in the movie). But this weird is good weird. Most films struggle to have any personality at all, let alone one as funky and unrefined as Project A’s. Well worth enjoying in the cool, comforting darkness of the Trylon.
SUPER PROJECT A BONUS CHALLENGE: When the time comes, try figuring out who supplies the English voice of pirate leader Lo Sam Pau. Don’t ruin it for yourself beforehand (put down the Google.) The casting decision was another odd, wonderful part of Project A. I loved it. And later, I was genuinely delighted to discover who it was.
Like the film itself, a mad little bit of genius.
Ben Schmidt is a writer: strong of beard, smooth of voice.
Project A screens at the Trylon Monday and Tuesday at 7:00 & 9:00. Purchase tickets here.