Plot: What’s it about?
Billy Wong (Jackie Chan) is a New York police officer who works hard to bring down criminals, but his tactics often involve breaking the rules. His temper runs hot and when it comes to obeying orders, Wong will always bend the rules to make sure he gets his man, which doesn’t please his superiors. After his partner was gunned down in a firefight, Wong is assigned a new partner and demoted to working security, of all duties. His new partner is Danny Garoni (Danny Aiello) and their assignment is to keep an eye on things at a fashion show, which seems like a routine watch, but little do they know what awaits them. At the show, the daughter of a very wealthy man is kidnapped and soon enough, the authorities link the event to Mr. Ko, a drug trafficker in Hong Kong. The relationship between Mr. Ko and the kidnapped girl’s father is unknown, but in order to find out, Wong and Garoni are dispatched to Hong Kong to work the case. But when the partners wind up causing all sorts of trouble for both the drug syndicate and the local police force, will the case ever be solved, or will this be another washout for Wong?
This is a prime example of what often happens when an Asian action film star comes to America and makes a movie, as the filmmakers have no idea how to use Jackie Chan’s talents and if you ask me, that is pathetic. I mean, Chan is perhaps the most gifted action star of all time and to waste his talents is no easy task, if you ask me. But somehow, unskilled director James Glickenhaus fails to make Chan as effective as he should be, which is due to the approach the hack filmmaker tried to lay down. Glickenhaus felt that Chan’s comic presence and fast paced fight scenes would bore American audiences, so he used more exposition and opted for gunfights instead of fist fights, with miserable results. Glickenhaus dropped the ball here and what could have been a fun action movie turns into boredom central, with little positive elements. Chan would later rework the film, remove the dull stretches, and even film new scenes to spice it up, but sadly, we’re given the American version on this disc. This is worth a rental to diehard Chan fans, but if you’re really that interested, just track down an import of Chan’s version.
As Jackie Chan is perhaps my favorite actor of all time (trailing maybe only Charlie Chaplin), I am always pleased to see his films released here is the U.S. But Warner has chosen to offer us only the abysmal Glickenhaus version of The Protector, which is a shame, as Chan himself created another edition, one which focuses more on action. As we all know, Chan is not usually seen with firearms and in this film, he seems to always have a gun, with mediocre results. I mean, I can’t fault Chan here, but I do wish he was able to make the scenes more creative, instead of the cut & paste stuff Glickenhaus wanted to include. He does have some good moments here and there, but sadly, Glickenhaus lacked the brains to let Chan loose in The Protector. If you wanted to see good Chan movies, check out Drunken Master, Police Story, Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow, Drunken Master II, Armour of God II: Operation Condor, and Miracles, among others. The cast also includes Danny Aiello (Do the Right Thing, Hudson Hawk), Victor Arnold (Shaft, The Yards), and Richard Clarke (Midnight Cowboy, Meet Joe Black).
Video: How does it look?
The Protector is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. As expected, the image is on the dated side and the print shows some age related flaws, but I still think this is a solid overall treatment. The print issues are minor on the whole, with some specks, nicks, and grain present, not really enough to be concerned about. The grain is obvious in most scenes, but never disrupts black levels, as contrast is smooth and well balanced here. I found colors to be bright and natural also, with no signs of errors to be seen. Not a perfect visual effort, but given the materials involved, I think Warner has done solid work here.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included 2.0 surround option is solid, but given the amount of gunfire and explosions, I expected a more active presentation. The action scenes do have some power, but not to the levels I had expected, though I suppose the film’s age could impact that. No real problems with the materials, aside from the lack of depth at times, while dialogue seems clean and never hard to understand in the least. Not a whole lot else we could expect I guess, though I do wish the mix had a little more “oomph” in some sequences. This disc also includes subtitles in English, Spanish, and French, just in case you’ll need to enable those.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes some talent files, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.