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Tagline: Jackie Chan fights for America in his biggest action film ever.

Preshow Entertainment: GOOFBALLS AND TEA (1958)


At this meeting of RMC, the Random Movie Generator chose JACKIE CHAN’S FIRST STRIKE. This is the third Jackie Chan movie selected in our 15 years of screenings (OPERATION CONDOR in October of 2001 and RUMBLE IN THE BRONX in January of 2002). I love Jackie, but some of his later movies like the RUSH HOURs and THE SPY NEXT DOOR are lackluster attempts by Hollywood to make a Jackie Chan movie. That’s not to say that the movies he made right before this era were historic. I mean, if Roger Moore could be OCTOPUSSY-silly, why can’t Jackie be FIRST STRIKE-silly? Answer? He can and he is. For example, you don’t have to live in NYC to see that RUMBLE IN THE BRONX was filmed 3000 miles from the Bronx. But that’s fine. In fact, it’s great. Because if you are able to not care, or perhaps even enjoy the silliness (as I do), then you will love FIRST STRIKE, because you’ll get loveable Jackie, stuntman Jackie, Martial Artist Jackie, and of course – The Jackrobat (I thought I just made that up, but it turns out to also be a character in THE CROODS).

This is the fourth entry of Chan’s POLICE STORY series (there are currently five; a sixth movie, POLICE STORY 2013, hasn’t been released in this country as of this writing). The POLICE STORY series is wildly popular in China and mildly popular here. That said, this entry had enough presence for it to get nominated for the Best Fight Scene award at 1996’s MTV Movie Awards. Probably would have won if the category had been Best Fight Scene Featuring an Aluminum Ladder.


This 1996 outing, with 20 minutes cut from the Hong Kong version, is surely fun. It was a tremendous hit in Hong Kong, with Wikipedia stating it was the third highest grossing film there...ever. FIRST STRIKE nakedly follows the Bond model. There are set pieces like warehouses, malls and funerals, and worldwide locations include Ukraine, Russia, Australia, submarines and the Underwater World Sea Life Aquarium…now Sea Life Center, in case you want to visit Australia. I’d like to add that Jackie’s suite in Brisbane has two levels, and comes with a sauna, a Jacuzzi and a live koala. I wonder if anyone mentioned that on Trip Advisor. Jackie himself references Bond (“I feel almost like James Bond, except no gorgeous girls.”), not to mention his dust-up with a huge Oddjob-like guy. Why, even the opening music is Bond-alike. And like 007, the McGuffins (Swiss bank account, briefcase, Russian mafia, uranium, yadda, more yadda) are not important. What matters is watching Jackie do his thing.

Jackie is Inspector Chan Ka Kui, AKA “Jackie,” from the Hong Kong police. He’s just been commended by the CIA for his assignment following Natasha, who is a (can you guess?) spy. They ask Jackie to go on one more assignment; to follow Natasha again, this time on a plane bound for Ukraine. After this non-eventful assignment is over, Jackie, while buying Ukrainian souvenirs, sees Natasha being carted away in a convoy of military vehicles. And because Jackie Chan is Jackie Chan, he follows. And he’s back on the case.


Jackie gets involved with the “new, improved KGB,” under a different name. “We’re connected to the Ukraine Department of Security.” There’s espionage and double crosses, and again, we don’t care. We just want to watch Jackie kicking ass in creative ways. And kick ass he does (one smart and funny sequence has Jackie on stilts, literally kicking ass). Stilts aren’t the only item he repurposes as weapons of self-defense. There are tables, ladders, scaffolds and even ashtrays. And how can you not love the way he evades henchmen via parkour (“He’s moving like a monkey!”). My favorite moment is when lissome Jackie slides down the outside of a building; his back pressed against the building as he walks down a palm tree. http://go.shr.lc/1tw6sg8


FIRST STRIKE also employs Jackie’s humor, which usually involves him being the brunt of the joke. By him having his everyman vulnerabilities (he tries to escape through a window that he doesn’t know is closed, only to smash his nose against it. This is called back later when he checks to make sure the window is open before jumping through it), he’s fashioned a character that is human instead of a martial arts machine. Some humor is on story, like his inability to understand Ukrainian writing, or being forced to wear, out of necessity, a goofy polar bear hat (it’s freezing on that snowmobile chase). Me, I liked when he was under icy water, patting his hands against his chest as if that would help him warm up. Speaking of which, I’d like to go on record to say that FIRST STRIKE’S underwater fight puts THUNDERBALL’s to shame. And Bond isn’t the only thing FIRST STRIKE lifts from; when Jackie’s in the shark tank, we hear not just their take on the famous 2-note JAWS theme, but the theme’s swirly strings as well.


But let’s face it, it’s Jackie’s character we love. His joy. His fun. It’s no wonder his influence was Buster Keaton. Sure, there are better Jackie movies, but that’s not to say I don’t recommend this one. I do. Even though the dubbing into English is awful. But then again, most of these movies are badly dubbed.

Here’s the theme song, sung by Jackie himself, not featured in the American version, along with outtakes of stunts gone wrong. http://go.shr.lc/1vEtGF7

Preshow Entertainment: GOOFBALLS AND TEA (1958)

Yet another ephemeral film about the perils of narcotics, GOOFBALLS AND TEA was made as a police tutorial. G & T is narrated by Art Gilmore, who aside from being the announcer on hundreds of TV shows from THE WALTONS to WALT DISNEY’S WONDERFUL WORLD OF COLOR, did the voice of President Roosevelt in YANKEE DOODLE DANDY.

GOOFBALLS AND TEA tells us how hours of loneliness lead to years where “the young mind probes and experiments with life.” It’s all so silly and hyperbolic. And fascinating. Did kids really learn from these things?

The absolute best part of this short, the thing that made us all laugh, was when the cop took the three teens out of the car. He stands one up and makes him duck his head through the open window of the open car door, meant to prevent the prisoner from running away. What a funny visual. Killed us. But now that I’ve had some time to think about it, it’s probably a pretty good idea. But still funny.

We soon get into narcotics addictions. Barbiturates like Seconal (a/k/a Goofballs) and amphetamines like Benzedrine. But this short may have backfired, because it’s actually more of a tutorial, including things like a step-by-step guide not just how to roll joints, but the different methods on how to smoke them. I have never done drugs, but now that I know how much fun it all is, I may start.

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