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Armour of God - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Long xiong hu di

Hong Kong 1986

Action, Comedy

Jackie Chan

Jackie Chan
Alan Tam
Rosamund Kwan
Lola Forner
Ken Boyle
John Ladalski

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Armour of God

Story: Jackie (Jackie Chan) is known as the "Asian Hawk", an adventurer who steals precious treasures in order to sell them to the highest bidder. One day he steals a part of the "Armour of God" and a secret cult decides that he has to get the parts they are missing. But since they don't want to pay him they just kidnap Jackie's former girlfriend Lorelei (Rosamund Kwan). Jackie's friend Alan (Alan Tam) approaches him and informs him of Lorelei's kidnapping and the "ransom". In a fight for Lorelei's heart Alan has taken her from Jackie years back, but despite his initial assertion Jackie still has feelings for her and so he goes on the hunt for the remaining artifacts of the armour. He finds what he is looking for at a rich antiquarian's, who is willing to lend him the armour parts if he brings them back and adds the parts of the secret cult. Moreover, his daughter May (Lola Forner) wants to join the adventure. Jackie doesn't hesitate and along with Alan and May heads to the hideout of the secret cult.

Review: "Armour of God" is without a doubt also highly popular in the west. Reason for that is the outstanding stunt work displayed, but the international flair shouldn't be ignored either. Yet, at a closer look the movie's success also seems rather miraculous. That is because the story and the dialogues are everything but good, at times the individual scenes are barely connected and serve as a bad excuse for creating the groundwork Chan works with best. But this action spectacle remains so entertaining despite its obvious flaws because Jackie Chan obviously had a lot of fun during shooting and manages to carry this fun over to the viewer. Apart from that there are also some really breathtaking stunts to be seen.

Armour of God - Film Screenshot 11

The reason why I had to revisit this Jackie Chan classic after many years was "Chinese Zodiac", the third installment in the series around the "Asian Hawk". There were many critical voices that called the movie shallow and not worthy of being a Chan movie. I found that quite confusing as for me it stood as a well-done return to the eighties, including the flaws that come along with it. I was even the more surprised when I realized that my memory of "Armour of God" was apparently quite glorified. In respect to the story and actually concerning all the scenes featured between the action you get an awful flick. "Chinese Zodiac" almost seems like a masterpiece next to this. Has this film always been such a B-movie?

Armour of God - Film Screenshot 12

Of course we are already accustomed to a lot of slapstick in Chan's movies, still there are some moments that are simply too much to bear. The scene at the hotel when Jackie tries to hide from his friend that Lorelei is in his room seems almost appealing compared to the rest. And that's saying something... Really bad, though, is the way the different cultures are depicted. "Armour of God" has been shot in several locations in the world, among them Yugoslavia, Marocco, Austria and Spain. That gives the movie an international atmosphere, but Chan doesn't work with it, instead he tramples the cultural diversity under foot. Accordingly, some of the supposedly funny scenes are outright awkward. And this continues with the acting.

I won't deal with the supporting actors here, otherwise I would still be nagging tomorrow or the day after that, and there is no need for that as the acting of the leads is substandard enough to nag. Jackie Chan is simply himself, no surprise there, and the same goes for Canto-popstar Alan Tam. Rosamund Kwan ("Once Upon a Time in China") remains very shallow in her role. Lola Forner, aka Miss Spain 1979, has joined the cast for whatever reasons. Her acting is so wooden that it almost causes physical pain. But all that pales in comparison to a story of robe-wearing cult members that finance their cult through growing drugs and practice a religion that isn't really defined in detail. At least this is so bad at times that it can be funny as well.

Armour of God - Film Screenshot 13

With all those words of criticism how can "Armour of God" still avoid being a bad movie? The stunts and the action are the answer to that, although latter one is rather neglectable concerning the martial arts aspect. However, what's impressive all throughout are the dangerous stunts which you couldn't do nowadays because of safety reasons. Just watching the stuntmen do their thing is painful. By the way, "Armour of God" is the movie where Chan almost met his demise when he fell from a tree and cracked his skull open. Since that day he has a hole in his head which is closed by a plastic plug. You can tell just by looking at the movie how much physical effort has been put into it. Even today, after all the Michael Bay-fireworks, "Armour of God" still proves to be a very special action highlight. For that reason alone this has still to be considered a classic despite all of the aforementioned flaws.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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