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‘First Strike’ Is Showcase For Jackie Chan’s Talents

Chris Hewitt St. Paul Pioneer Press

What’s the plot of Jackie Chan’s “First Strike”? Who gives a rip?

The only thing that matters is that “First Strike” includes: Jackie driving a snowmobile while dodging bullets and wearing a stuffed toy animal on his head; Jackie ducking as a helicopter falls on his head; Jackie using a ladder and some brooms to fend off a battalion of baddies; Jackie engaging in hand-to-fin combat with a shark; Jackie on stilts; and Jackie almost drowning in 10 million gallons of water and then being completely dry, two seconds later.

It’s a mistake to think of Chan as just a martial-arts guy - he’s really a comedian and a dancer, and if you need evidence of that, just look at the scene in which he shimmies down a tree with the smooth elegance and grace of the great Buster Keaton. Chan is an artist, and “First Strike” gives him plenty of opportunities to demonstrate that no one else working in the movies has even half of his physical skills.

Like Chan’s other movies, “First Strike” is marred by persistent attempts to introduce plot and characters. The plotting is in the absurdist “Melrose Place” tradition, in which two people can hate each other one minute and love each other the next without anything having happened in between. All I could get out of the story is that there are some bad guys, and Jackie follows them all over Australia and Ukraine.

Speaking of which, despite the TV commercials which suggest the movie takes place in the United States - Jackie never steps foot on American soil. In fact, U.S. movie studios can’t insure him because of his trademark insistence on doing his own stunts, so let’s hope he never does make a movie here.

xxxx “First Strike” Locations: North Division Credits: Directed by Stanley Tong, starring Jackie Chan, Jackson Lou, Chen Chun Wu, Bill Tung, Jouri Petrov, Terry Woo, Grishajeva Nonna and John Eaves Running time: 1:28 Rating: PG-13

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