In the lively and stylish "City Hunter," Jackie Chan, king of martial arts comedy, brings the adventures of Japan's most popular comic-book hero to the screen. It's a perfect piece of casting, because Chan himself is a kind of live-action cartoon figure, with his mind-boggling kinetic fighting style, impish personality and Road Runner resilience and energy.
Introduced with a spoofy James Bond theme, Ryu Saeba, the City Hunter, is a legendary private eye who collects fancy women and equally fancy sports cars. Jackie's Ryu, however, is the eternal innocent; he scarcely has time to pursue either hobby.
He's hired by a Japanese publishing tycoon to retrieve his runaway daughter Kiyoko (Kumiko Goto), whose elusiveness lands them on a luxury ocean liner that's about to be hijacked. Also aboard, by the long arm of coincidence, is Ryu's pretty assistant Kaori (Joey Wong), herself a runaway from her boss's womanizing. Then there's Saeko (Chingmy Yau), a gorgeous undercover agent in pursuit of the hijackers, and her assistant (Carol Wen), who's giddy but as beautiful as her boss.
There are countless set pieces that are the cornerstones of action pictures like this--the best are a skateboard chase through Tokyo streets and a kind of crazed ballet in which the martial arts combatants become live figures from a pinball machine.
But the real triumph of "City Hunter" (Monica 4-Plex) is Chung Man-Yee's glorious and inspired futuristic production design, which takes us from the skyscraper canyons, corporate corridors and boardrooms of Tokyo to the vast interiors of the ocean liner. One suspects that Chung blended ultra-modern actual locales with appropriately elaborate sets. As a result, writer-director Wong Jing, a comedy specialist, and his resourceful cameraman are able to take us into a world as stylized as that of Chaplin's "Modern Times" or Jerry Lewis' "Ladies' Man" or, for that matter, Jacques Tati's "Playtime," creating a fantasy context in which Chan, himself one of the cinema's great nimble clowns, can bring the irrepressible Ryu alive. "City Hunter" (Times-rated Family) is such fun you probably won't mind how corny its humor is.
Jackie Chan: Ryu Saeba, the City Hunter
Joey Wong: Kaori
Kumiko Goto: Kiyoko
Chingmy: Yau Saeko
A Golden Harvest presentation. Writer-director Wong Jing. Producer Chua Lam. Executive producers Raymond Chow, Leonard Ho. Cinematographers Gigo Lee, Tom Lau, Jigo Ma. Editors Yu Chung-Cheng, Ka Fai-Cheng. Costumes Sherry Chan. Production design Chung Man-Yee. Sound Hung Yai-Chan, Elena Lau. In Cantonese, with English and Chinese subtitles. Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes.
Times-rated Family (suitable for all but the very young).