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Project A

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Project A (Chinese: A計劃; Jyutping: A Gai3 Waak6; also known as Pirate Patrol and Jackie Chan's Project A) is a 1983 Hong Kongmartial artsactioncomedy film written and directed by Jackie Chan, and starring Jackie ChanSammo Hung and Yuen Biao.

Set in the 1800s in old Hong KongProject A blends comedy moments and spectacular stunts, including set-pieces reminiscent of Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. One stunt in particular involved Chan hanging and falling from the hand of a clock tower some 60 feet high, tearing through awning canopies before hitting the ground head-first. It was inspired by Lloyd's famous clock-tower stunt from the 1923 film Safety Last!.

ContentsEdit

 [hide*1 Plot

Plot[edit]Edit

Sergeant Dragon Ma (Jackie Chan) is part of the Hong Kong Marine Police's effort to suppress the pirates, who have been raiding ships for months. Members of the Royal Hong Kong Police Force and the MP, who have a strong interservice rivalries, get into a fight in a bar. Shortly after this, Captain Chi (Kwan Hoi-San) releases all of the sailors to their commanding officer, and two of the MP's ships get blown up.

Gangsters Chiang and Mr. Chow meet at a VIP Club, and discuss fleeing to Vietnam. As soon as Chiang leaves, he meets one of the pirates and they laugh about sabotaging the Marine Police ships. In the course of the conversation, the pirate tells him that his boss, San-po (Dick Wei), wants 100 police rifles.

As they do not have enough ships, Dragon Ma and his squad are forced to become regular police officers. They have to undergo "hard training" with the police, under Captain Chi's nephew, Hong Tin-tsu (Yuen Biao). After the police learn that Chiang is at the VIP Club, and that the guests there are not to be disturbed, Dragon and Tin-tsu go to arrest Chiang, but a big fight breaks out. After tiring of the blatant corruption in the police force, Dragon drags Chiang out and tells Tin-tsu to take the credit. That is his last official act as an officer with the Hong Kong police.

Fei (Sammo Hung) finds Dragon in the street. They have a conversation, in which Fei reveals that someone from within the police force is selling rifles. Fei tells Dragon that all he wants are the guns, and Dragon can catch the traitor. At night, Dragon and Fei interrupt a gun deal between the Army and the police Captain. After pushing everyone into the water and making off with the guns, Fei hides the rifles inside a log and marks it with a red flag. He later tries to sell the guns to the gangsters and pirates, but Dragon has intervened by removing the red flag and putting flags on other logs.

After the Admiral arrives, Dragon has a conversation with the Admiral's daughter, Winnie. He learns that the Captain wasn't smuggling guns for San-po, he was buying the guns from the army to arm his men. On overhearing this, Fei gets into an argument with Dragon. The gangsters come after Fei, so he tells them that Dragon is to blame for the missing guns. Dragon is forced to flee with Winnie. After teaming up with Fei, being tortured for information about the guns, and falling from the face of a clock tower, the police track Dragon down for a third time, and help him get away as they arrest the gangsters.

As the pirates have lost the guns they kidnap everyone on board a ship, including a Rear Admiral. The Colonel has a conversation with Mr. Chow, which Dragon overhears. Mr. Chow proposes an arms for hostages deal. He tells the Colonel that this will "greatly expedite matters," and the Colonel consents. After Mr. Chow leaves, Dragon confronts the Colonel and convinces him that the gangsters and the pirates will never fear the law if the police force are corrupt. After it is agreed that Dragon will assume all responsibility for the mission to save the hostages, the Colonel allows the Marine Police to be brought back into full force.

Mr. Chow is brought in by the police and beaten until he tells Dragon and Tin-tsu how to get to San-po. Dragon, posing as Mr. Chow, gets on board a ship that takes him to San-po's hideout, and they are followed by the rest of the squad. Fei sneaks aboard and poses as a pirate. After a lot of tricky undercover work, the cavalry arrives, and there is a final confrontation in the middle of the pirate's lair. Dragon, Tin-tsu, and Fei engage in a hand-to-hand battle with San-po, eventually killing him with a hand grenade when he's rolled into the carpet.

Cast[edit]Edit

Isabella Wong is the only female actress with a substantial role in this film. Her only other film credit is a cameo appearance in the sequel, Project A Part II.

Title[edit]Edit

In the 1980s, Chan chose vague, generic film titles such as Project A and Police Story so as not to give the plots of the films away prior to their release. It was felt that the titles of previous Chan films such as Snake in the Eagle's Shadow and Drunken Master gave too much away about the kung fu style they featured - Snake Style and Drunken Fist respectively. Project A was originally going to be titled Pirate Patrol but it was feared that once announced, other Hong Kong film producers would rush to copy and release films featuring pirates.[1]

Production[edit]Edit

On the audio commentary of the Hong Kong Legends (Region 2) DVD, Bey Logan reveals that Chan's last period film, Dragon Lord (1982), had under-performed at the Hong Kong box office in comparison to the previous one, The Young Master (1980). Logan identifies that a possible reason for the poor performance was the comparative lack of action. Edward Tang and the production team felt that a period film could still have success if it had sufficient action, and so researched the history of Hong Kong during the time of pirates for Project A.

Unlike other Hollywood period films that are set on an exact time and place, many Hong Kong films play fast and loose with their period in history. A prominent example by Bey Logan is set like this: the Hong Kong Marine Police is set up in 1846 by the British Colonial Government. The Hong Kong Headquarters is set up in 1884. The Kowloon Canton Railway Clock tower is set up in 1915. So in other words, this film takes place between the 19th and early 20th century. Jackie and the Golden Harvest team employ some researchers to come up with background for this story about pirates in Hong Kong and are not really concerned at all about depicting the film in the exact era. Bey Logan coined regarding historical heroes and stories like Wong Fei Hong: if you choose between the truth and the legend, you print the legend because if you pick the truth, you won't have for example, having items, vehicles and certain historical figures if you are shooting it in a time where certain things would or would not have existed, unless it's made as a documentary.

Project A marks the first time that veteran Michael Lai used orchestral music for a film score, instead of using library music, or lifting the score from other films.

In rehearsal for the clock tower fall inspired by Safety Last!, Chan took a week to build the courage to drop from such a great height.[citation needed] During the shooting of the bicycle chase sequence, one of the stuntmen informed Chan that E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was playing at the local cinema. Chan halted filming to watch the bicycle chase scene in the finale of E.T., to ensure that his scene and Steven Spielberg's scene were not the same. After watching the film, Chan became more confident, realizing that the audience doesn't really care so much about such minor details, only in watching the film and having a good time. According to his book I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action, Chan injured his neck while filming the scene.[2]

After appearing in The Cannonball Run (1981), Chan liked the idea of including bloopers over the closing credits. Beginning with Dragon Lord, he has included outtakes over the end credits for most of the films, including Project A, he has directed and they have become something of a Chan trademark. Due to the nature of his films, Chan's outtakes are a combination of comedic moments and injuries sustained whilst he and his team perform stunts and fight sequences. These outtakes were enjoyed particularly by audiences in Japan - so much so that Japanese film companies would demand the inclusion of "NGs" ("no good" shots) in the distribution contracts for all Jackie Chan films, regardless of director.

Box office[edit]Edit

Project A marked Chan's return to Asian cinema after his first attempt to break into the Hollywood market with a small role in The Cannonball Run and a starring role in the unsuccessful Battle Creek Brawl. In contrast, Project A was huge success at the Hong Kong box office, earning HKD$19,323,824 in Hong Kong.[3] It was also very well received abroad, and particularly throughout East Asia. Reportedly, in JapanEmperor Showa's fondness of the film and eagerness to see a sequel, led Chan to make Project A Part II.[1]

Critical reception[edit]Edit

Project A was met with positive reviews. In his annual film guide, Leonard Maltin's Movie GuideMaltin rated the film 3 out of 4 stars. The film was praised by the Los Angeles Times.[4]

The film currently has an 82% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 11 reviews.[5]

Awards and nominations[edit]Edit

Home media[edit]Edit

U.S. version[edit]Edit

The version distributed on video and DVD by Miramax in North America has a new opening credits sequence, a new score, and dubbed English dialogue. In addition, there are seven minutes of cuts, including:

  • Tai Bo and Big Mouth's song mocking the "Green Coats" (policeman).
  • A cop throwing spaghetti in Tai Bo's face.
  • The mahjong gambling scene.
  • The scene in which the Coast Guards learn to shower in ten seconds.

Influence on popular culture[edit]Edit

  • In the aftermath of the series a remake was done starring Dicky Cheung and Wong Jing using the film's setting as a template for a TV series also titled Project A (2007).
  • Music video game Pop'n Music 7 (2001) features a remixed version of the film's theme song as one of its songs.
  • Jackie Chan (under the name of Dragon Commander) appears in the episode 109 from the anime Gin Tama in which he is part of a terrorist group. The Cantonese song from the film is used during the episode's ending.
  • A 1986 anime film was released in Japan called Project A-ko. Despite the influence of the title, the two movies have no other similarities.

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