Project A (1983)

Every now and then I find myself at a loose end, with literally hundreds of DVDs I could watch, but no idea what to watch. When such a mood hits me, as it did tonight, the answer is usually something both familiar and unthreatening, something I know is good that won’t tax me unduly… and while going through a box of stuff, I chanced upon the two Project A films. Jackie Chan classic? Why the hell not. I can’t remember when I last watched either of these, indeed I’m not sure I’ve actually watched either on DVD though I’ve had the discs for a number of years (bought them as library titles)… Anyway, this was a delightful rediscovery, one of the few Hong Kong period action films actually set in Hong Kong itself; it’s about 1900 or so, Chan is the coast guard sergeant co-opted with the rest of his squad into the hated police force, and pirates are running rampant. Chan quits the force after a bust that doesn’t quite go as it should, and finds himself teaming up with “good thief” Sammo Hung against the pirates and their associates on land. I hold to the theory that people are a mix of higher and lower aesthetic needs, and accordingly it’s hard to survive just on a diet of high art and seriousness; some times you need that, but other times your baser desires call louder than your higher ones and you just want to see shit getting broken in the course of three clearly defined acts. A film like this is perfect for that, riding on the winning charisma of Messrs Hung and Chan (the latter with enough balls to not only rip off Harold Lloyd’s clock-face bit but to include three different takes of it in the film), not to mention the vigour and athleticism of the rest of the cast too, and casually redefining the Hong Kong action comedy as it goes. On nights like this it’s exactly the sort of thing I need, even if I don’t realise it until I’ve looked over all my shelves and stuff…

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