Operation Condor (1991) — It’s pretty much 98% kicking

“African vampires don’t like Chinese blood.”

Lissa’s rating: Y’know, that walking up walls thing is HARD.

Lissa’s review: There is just something about Jackie Chan movies that makes you leave the theater wanting to kick things. It’s bad enough when you see a movie like this with normal human beings; it’s even worse when a bunch of black belts go see it. And even worse is when we’re the only ones in the theater. When we walked home that night, nothing was safe. Not signs, not trees, not walls, not each other.

Man, we must have looked like a bunch of idiots.

It was after seeing Operation Condor (which is what it was billed as out at Penn State) that the guys I hung out with started doing the “chump kick.” It was a 540-degree flying kick where you landed on the foot you kicked on. It was awesome. It was also of no practical use whatsoever. But it was SO COOL! Very fitting that it was in a Jackie Chan movie.

The plot of Operation Condor is laughably simple: The Nazis have the gold. The Nazis have hidden the gold in the Sahara. Secret agent Jackie Condor must get it back.

What? That’s it. Seriously.

Normally, I would laugh at something with that simple and stupid a plot. I should. But I don’t. The point of a good Jackie Chan flick is not plot. You don’t go to a Jackie Chan film expecting character development or deep themes or moral statements. You go to see Jackie Chan “kick s**t”, as my friend An so delicately put it.

And he kicks s**t.

The beauty of Jackie Chan movies — and Operation Condor especially — is that Jackie Chan KNOWS you don’t go to see the plot or characters or any of that. He knows what we want. And he gives it to us, in spades. Lots of kicking, peppered with mugging, great expressions, and some funny lines.

It’s not Shakespeare. (Why do I keep using that? I HATE Shakespeare.) It’s not a women’s lib movie. (Despite the fact that the women throw quite a few kicks of their own, the most frequent line in the movie is “Jackie! Help me!”) It’s probably not even the most amazing Jackie Chan movie you’ll ever see. The bad guys are bland, the chicks aren’t Charlie’s Angels, and the voice-overs are really pretty bad. (I really prefer subtitles to dubbing.) But there’s no real romantic subplot, and that can only be a good thing.

Although some would argue that this is not Chan’s best work ever (I wouldn’t know, given that I haven’t watched all 92 movies he’s made), he is utterly phenomenal, and this movie was shot while he was still in his prime. Lightning fast, strong, and utterly skilled, it is impossible to take your eyes off of him when he’s fighting. But what makes it even better is that goofball humor that Jackie Chan tosses in. This sort of martial arts talent and comedic talent don’t usually seem to go together, and Jackie Chan has certainly carved a unique niche for himself. And how many other martial arts movies have fight scenes in wind tunnels?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to practice my chump kick.

Didja notice?

  • The chump kick
  • Why bother with gates? Just walk up the walls.
  • Fighting in wind tunnels is tricky.
  • Jackie! Help me!

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