Stung by criticism that his films were all action and no acting, Jackie Chan enlisted longtime collaborator Sammo Hung and screenwriter Barry Wong (ARMOUR OF GOD, HARD-BOILED) to help craft this 1985 dramatic showcase (first officially released in the US on home-video in 1997) and
sentimental heart-tugger--with butt-kicking action sequences.
Tired of rescuing his mentally retarded brother Dodo (Sammo Hung) from various messes, former SWAT-teamer and current Criminal Investigation Division agent Fung (Jackie Chan) decides to marry so his bride Jenny (Emily Chu) can take care of Dodo while Fung becomes a sailor.
Playing cops and robbers with his prepubescent friends, Dodo inadvertently scares criminal Cho Yee Fat (Chung Fat) into ditching his bag of loot. The criminal's associates, however, suspect Fat of keeping the loot for himself and make an attempt on his life, driving him to the cops for protection,
where he offers evidence against his boss, Mr. Kim (James Tien).
Everyone eventually discovers Dodo is responsible for the missing loot, and he escapes the cops only to be captured by the criminals.
Mr. Kim offers Dodo's brother Fung a trade: Dodo for the turncoat Fat. Enlisting his former cohorts from SWAT, Fung kidnaps Fat from the police safe house and loses the cops in a car and motorcycle chase. Entering a construction site to make the trade, Fat is shot dead by Kim's men and a
protracted fight breaks out, with Fung's former comrades joining in to wipe out Kim and his men.
Rescuing Dodo, Fung is arrested. Dodo spends this time with his little friends and with Jenny, then with the released SWAT teamers. Fung serves time, but upon being released, he is reunited with his brother.
Released about the same time as WHY ME? (1985), the Hong Kong People's Choice award-winning tearjerker starring Kent Cheng as a corpulent, retarded adult who is constantly teased and abused, HEART OF DRAGON's first act is pure pathos in the same vein, with Dodo's teacher, neighbors, and even his
young friends taking advantage of him. It's unusual to see action-master Hung in a non-fighting role as the innocent victim, while the utterly humorless Fung is a similarly calculated departure for Jackie Chan: a good guy certainly, but a flawed and ambiguous one who is tired of his
responsibilities and looking desperately for escape.
These being the principals however, the tone takes a drastic and somewhat disorienting shift for act two, with the sudden appearance of Kim and his men, and the introduction of action and stunts. The final showdown again allows Chan to stretch and be surprisingly vicious, dispatching bad guys by
bullet, machete, and crowbar. This 10-minute sequence is stunningly staged, photographed by a fluid, prowling camera, and utilizing to full advantage the skeletal building site and construction tools as makeshift weapons (shovels, poles, pickaxe, wheelbarrows, oildrums, etc.). Guns, of course,
constantly jam, run out of bullets, or are knocked from hands to clear the way for the exquisitely choreographed fighting, which was nominated for Best Action Design at the HK Film Awards, alongside Hung as Best Director.
The film has been released to US video in both dubbed and subtitled versions, as THE FIRST MISSION and HEART OF DRAGON, respectively (although both say HEART OF DRAGON on the box); the dubbed version has different character names. (Violence, adult situations, nudity, profanity.)
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- Released: 1985
- Rating: NR
- Review: Stung by criticism that his films were all action and no acting, Jackie Chan enlisted longtime collaborator Sammo Hung and screenwriter Barry Wong (ARMOUR OF GOD, HARD-BOILED) to help craft this 1985 dramatic showcase (first officially released in the US o… (more)