I couldn’t not watch the second film after that, though it was nearly 2.30am when it finished so far too late to start writing about it then. Anyway, this was the film that opened up the wonderful world of Hong Kong cinema to me 15 years ago… prior to which I’d just assumed films like this were needlessly violent southeast Asian trash; I can’t recall for the life of me why I finally decided to give this a go when SBS were showing it one night, but I did, and it demonstrated that, well, needlessly violent southeast Asian trash could be awfully entertaining. Here, Jackie is promoted to superintendent of a police station; this time he’s not only up against pirates (the handful of bedraggled survivors from the first film), but mainland revolutionaries, Chinese government spies, and corruption within the police force, particularly embodied by his own superior officer. The 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die book includes this rather than the original on the grounds that it’s much the same as the first only there’s more of it (cf. also the first two Coffin Joe films for another illustration of this principle); I can see what they’re driving at though I don’t think I agree with the wisdom that this is the better film, I think both of them are pretty much equal. Watching this right after the original, I did kind of feel Sammo’s absence (he’s only here in the pre-credits recap of the action scenes from the first film), but then again there’s enough narrative elements and characters for Jackie to be getting on with as it is without him being in there too. But, obviously, what we look for here is the action, and the film surely delivers there, particularly the lengthy climactic showdown (this time Chan has the audacity to rip off Keaton). As an easy entry into Hong Kong action films, these are hard to beat.
Project A II (1987)