Quite possibly the worst Jackie Chan film ever … strike that … quite possibly one of the worst films ever, City Hunter is a live-action film based off of the Japanese anime of the same name. Here, Chan plays private detective Ryu Saeba, who, along with his partner, Kaori (Joey Wong), are hired to track down the missing daughter of a wealthy Japanese publishing tycoon.
Ryu is quite the ladies man and his initial thoughts of turning the job down vanish once he sees a picture of the magnate’s beautiful ru…away daughter, Shizuko (Kumiko Goto). He and Kaori track Shizuko down to a cruise ship and Ryu is immediately smitten with her and it becomes hard to tell if he’s more interested in returning her to her father, or getting in on some of the … ahem … action himself. Unfortunately for Ryu, when some American baddies hijack the ship and hold its passengers hostage, his carnal interests in Shizuko take a back seat to dispatching the bad guys. It’s now up to Ryu, Kaori, and Shizuko to save the day and then make sure that Shizuko is returned back to her father safely.
Chan smirks and grins his way through this dirtloaf of a film, as his action sequences are accentuated with a cheesy pose and even cheesier music to go along with it. The physicality of the stunts is as impressive as ever, but the film is so over-the-top and ridiculous that you hardly notice. You’ve got to hand it to Chan for being such a badass, but City Hunter is one that Chan, as well as his fans, would more than likely love to forget. Skip this one entirely – instead, use the 99-minutes you would have wasted and beat your head up against a wall – it’s much more enjoyable than a single viewing of City Hunter.
Fox’s City Hunter includes a Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 track, as well as one dubbed in English. Major kudos to Fox for including the film’s original language track and giving consumers the choice of listening to the film the way it was intended versus a really bad dub … I mean really bad. Even so, the mix is quite active and engaging and while the effects don’t always sound the most natural, it doesn’t mire down the track too much. The tracks contain decent dynamics and fidelity, but don’t really hold up when compared to more recent films in the genre. Even still, the 5.1 mixes come across quite nicely all the same. Rear surrounds see some limited action as everything from fights to gunplay to music are all heard getting some nice reinforcement from the back.
Dialogue was front and center, with harshness or edginess never making an appearance. While the English dub was pretty crummy, there were no intelligibility issues involved at all – it was simply a goofy dub with horrible voice acting. The music was quirky and a little too cheesy for me, but it fit the material well and adds to the cartoonish goofiness of the film. LFE usage was marginal at best, but was definitely noted at points during the film offering general reinforcement.
Also included are subtitles in English and Chinese and while the audio transfer for City Hunter doesn’t live up to more recent blockbusters in the genre, it works surprisingly well for the film given its relative age.
City Hunter is presented in the film’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and has received anamorphic treatment from the folks at 20th Century Fox – something I don’t think any other version/region has ever had. The transfer is quite nice and I feel like I can safely say that the film has never looked better in any other incarnation.
The image was able to remain sharp and detailed for the most part, without too many soft moments noted during the film. Colors were bright and vivid – adding to the cartoonish look-and-feel of the film – but came across as soft on occasion. Even so, the softness remained non-distracting. Smearing or bleeding were never an issue and save for a few moments here and there, saturation and contrast were right on the money.
Flaws came in the form of flakes and flecks on the print, as well as some occasional edge enhancement and shimmer. The flaws were nothing too serious, but easily spotted. Regardless, City Hunter was a better than expected presentation that won’t give fans too much to gripe about.
Included on Fox’s City Hunter DVD are City Hunter Trailers (“Original” and “New”), as well as a Jackie Chan City Hunter Outtake MTV that is nothing more than a Jackie Chan flub reel placed to cheesy music and edited to run like a music video. Nothing great, but good for a single viewing.
Following is a City Hunter Photo Gallery that contains a couple of dozen stills from the film and it’s followed by some Exclusive Interviews featuring three separate interview segments with Jackie Chan, Wong Jing (Producer/Director), and Rocky Lai (Stuntman). Each interview lasts well over seven minutes, with the total running time of all three interviews being close to thirty minutes. They each give great perspective on their roles in the film, as well as the HKC industry in general. A really nice find and a great addition to the set.
There’s a pretty in-depth Jackie Chan Photo Gallery and Biography section included that is followed by other static/text-based material like Original Promotional Materials (posters and stills) and some Production Notes.
Finishing off the disc are Trailers for other Fox releases – Magnificent Butcher, Hong Kong 1941, Kiss of the Dragon, and The Transporter.
Hard to recommend sight unseen to anyone other than hardcore HKC fans. The audio, visual, and supplemental treatment Fox has given the film should please most, while the film itself is just too “iffy” to recommend as a blind purchase.
Special Features List
- Photo Gallery
- Jackie Chan Biography and Photo Gallery