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Miracles - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Ji ji

Hong Kong 1989

Comedy, Action

Jackie Chan

Jackie Chan
Anita Mui
Gua Ah-Leh
Wu Ma
Richard Ng
Bill Tung
Gloria Yip
Billy Chow
Lo Lieh

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aka Canton Godfather, aka Mr. Canton and Lady Rose

Story: Cheng Wah Kuo (Jackie Chan) comes to Hong Kong trying to make it big. But he is soon bamboozled and is left with no money. He constantly seems to have bad luck until he buys a rose from Madame Rose (Gua Ah-Leh). Shortly after that he runs into a mob boss who is hunted by a rivaling boss. The boss he has just met bites the dust and because of a misunderstanding everyone believes that the boss has named Kuo his successor. Kuo is completely lost and doesn't know how to deal with this situation and although he gets a helping hand from Uncle Hai (Wu Ma) he first needs to earn the respect of his subordinates. That's particularly difficult because Kuo wants nothing more than to stop all illegal activities. His new job becomes even more impossible to deal with when Yang Lu-ming (Anita Mui) becomes his girlfriend. He now has to balance her wishes with that of the gangster organisation. When one day Madame Rose is told that her daughter and her rich future father-in-law want to visit Hong Kong, Kuo somehow has to take care of the poor flowergirl to welcome her daughter as a rich wife, because that's what she posed to be in her letter. Ultimately, chaos breaks loose.

Review: "Miracles" is actually a well done, typical Jackie Chan mix of comedy and kung fu. By many considered one of Chan's best movies I couldn't help but notice some serious flaws that prevent me from sharing this opinion. Naturally, there are a few stunts and action sequences that are beyond reproach, but Chan's extremely high ambitions, which are very obvious, are ruined by a weak screenplay alongside a few corny twists and characters. "Miracles" is a comparatively expensive production, that's pretty apparent, but Chan really should at least leave the screenwriting to someone else in the future. It's more than enough that he took over all the other tasks, and especially as a director he can prove his strengths in this action comedy.

Miracles - Film Screenshot 11

Jackie Chan plays a gangster boss this time. That's unusual and actually doesn't feel right. He may remain one of the good guys and tries to turn the gangster organisation inside out and refrain from illegal business, but he still doesn't fit into this role. Moreover, it seems odd that his subordinates have comparatively little problems with his policy. Sure, there is the mandatory villain with a few men that plot against Kuo, but apart from that the movie's focus is shifting away from Kuo's problems to a story around a flowergirl from the beginning that was first perceived as some sort of subplot. Concerning this story "Miracles" is strongly based on Frank Capra's "A Pocketful of Miracles" and can almost be called some sort of remake - with a little bit of kung fu added.

Miracles - Film Screenshot 12

However, in its core this movie is a comedy. There are numerous conincidences and improbabilities that in this context you simply have to put up with, leading to a wild hide-and-seek game at a hotel. Chan has fun with such scenes and you can cerainly tell. He puts a lot of weight on those scenes and you have to admit that his cinematography and camera work is truely well achieved. The costumes and sets also show the forte of a big production. Furthermore, there are countless extras and a lot of cameos as well as Hong Kong stars cast in supporting roles. In regard to the vast number of characters "Miracles" often loses its focal point, though, and sticks to subplots for way too long, this includes for example the con artist who wants to pull a fast one on a police chief.

Fans of Chan's "Police Story 2", which came out the year before, will miss the action. As already said there are some pretty impressive stunt scenes, e.g. one including some rickshaws or one taking place in a rope factory, but sometimes they feel forced into the film and mostly stand out with a strong Buster Keaton flair, which, as we know, Chan is very fond of. Accordingly, for some of his action fans the humor in "Miracles" will stand a little bit too much in the center of events. The movie's pacing may be especially high during those scenes, but this action comedy actually and surprisingly struggles with some problems in this respect quite often. Particularly during the second half the pacing drops, but the goal the movie is heading towards is also lost sight of. With its more than two hours running time "Miracles" also seems a bit too long.

Miracles - Film Screenshot 13

As far as it was possible I excluded from this review the fact that I can't stand the 30s as a movie setting. And Chan actually manages to create authenticity with his sets. Without a doubt "Miracles" is an expensive production and also delivers some inventive stuntwork. But in its core it turns out to be a typical comedy of errors that is fun at times, but at others isn't convincing, which is the fault of too many characters and a flat screenplay. The chaos that unfolds on screen at some point gets out of control and the movie's structure falls apart. Consequently, if looking under the technically well achieved surface of this action comedy, you will find a movie that can just be counted among the mediocre flicks of Chan.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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