I discovered Hong Kong cinema through the same magical combination of no friends and too much free time that helped me discover
softcore porn Anime. Growing up, I was a video store junkie and every free moment I had I would spend cover surfing the import section of them local mall video store, Suncoast Video. These were the pre-internet days where if you wanted to know about a movie you actually had to pick it up and read the back or try and suck charm it out of the other video hounds patrolling the import section. There was something so amazing to me about these foreign releases. It was like a porthole to another world and I bought every VHS I could get my hands on.
The name “Jackie Chan” dominated the shelves and it was just a matter of time before I gave him a try. So I bought a tape, and then another and another and then I started importing them on special order when I had nabbed up all the one’s the store regularly stocked. Eventually I reached “Project A”. This was after about a year of Jackie mania so I knew the awesome ride I was in for. The story centers around Master Sargent Dragon Ma (Chan) and his fellow coastguards as they continue on their quest to stop a troublesome pirate lord after their company has been disbanded by the local police. While the plots are always solid, the real sex-appeal of a Jackie Chan movie is in the action and PA is no exception.
Having been raised on a diet of american action movies made up mostly of giant muscles and whizzing bullets, the inventive physicality of Chan’s movies was initially jarring but it was so brilliant that they quickly became all I wanted to see from the action genre. The sheer creativity of the choreography was addictive. Almost as charming as Jackie are his costar Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung, whom he would share the screen with on many future Golden Harvest classics like My Lucky Stars, Wheels on Meals and Dragons Forever. He’s a legend for all the right reasons. So influential was Jackie on this young suburbanite that on several, mostly intoxicated, occasions I’ve attempted to do some of the wall jumping stunts from this movie with disastrous results. Is Project A his best work? Not in my opinion, but it marks the very beginning of the golden era of his film career. Classics like “Police Story” are right around the corner and in “Project A” you get a real taste of the brilliance to be refined and upscaled in his later work.
There is something almost endearing about the cheapness of aspects of this film production. You can see their budget restraints in the model miniatures and the quality of film stock they were using but for me thats all part of its charm. There is a certain “feel” to the Hong Kong action cinema of this era and I would change a thing about it. There is something fun here for everyone whether your a Kung Fu connoisseur or new to the genre, Project A is a delicious buffet of clever comedic Kung Fu served up by the master chef of the genre. Even if you don’t know Kung Fu from Tae Bo, “Project A” is still a pretty fun ride.