The Unforgettable Bond of Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung Bringing Depth and Heart to the Martial Arts Genre
Heart of Dragon (Long de xin)
Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime
Year Released: 1985, 2023 Arrow Video Blu-ray
Runtime: 1h 39m
Director(s): Sammo Hung, Fruit Chan
Writer(s): Barry Wong
Cast: Jackie Chan, Emily Chu, Sammo Hung, Ching-Ying Lam, Hoi Mang, Lung Chan, Wah Yuen, Kar Lok Chin, Corey Yuen, Melvin Wong, Dennis Chan, Wing-Cho Yip, Tai-Bo, Anthony Chan, Yuen Wah
Where To Watch: Available April 11, 2023; pre-order now from www.arrowvideo.com or www.mvdshop.com
RAVING REVIEW: Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung, a powerhouse duo who first met at the Peking Opera School, made waves in the Hong Kong film industry during the 70s and 80s. Their 1985 film HEART OF DRAGON is a powerful example of their electric chemistry, as they play siblings in an engaging emotion-packed drama.
The plot centers on Chan's character, a devoted cop who takes care of his intellectually challenged brother, played by Hung. As the story progresses, Hung's character inadvertently becomes entwined in a dangerous situation, prompting Chan to go all-in to protect his brother.
What sets HEART OF DRAGON apart from other collaborations between Chan and Hung is the unusual mix of drama and heart, a rarity in martial arts and action films. Both actors flex their acting muscles, taking on more profound and layered roles than their typical fare. Although, in exchange, their martial arts prowess is not on full display here.
The film emphasizes the strong bond between the brothers, with Hung delivering a compelling portrayal of his character's vulnerability and innocence (while at times going a step too far and becoming almost a parody.) Simultaneously, Chan showcases his talents as a dramatic actor with an equally commendable performance. It’s nice to see Chan as the central focus instead of just the “fighting guy.”
However, the film has its challenges. Hung's depiction of an intellectually disabled individual can sometimes feel problematic, and as the director, he ultimately bears the responsibility for this portrayal. This is amplified by the film's period; this type of role wouldn’t fly today as we have become more aware of the world around us and attempt to make more authentic portrayals of everyone. The film occasionally falls short in its attempts to evoke sympathy for Hung's character. Some scenes depict him being mocked or mistreated, and even the characters who are supposed to support him, such as Chan's character, at times demonstrate a lack of understanding or patience toward his disability.
Regardless, HEART OF DRAGON is a slightly different take on the standard 80s Hong Kong action flick. Fans of the duo will delight in some of the action sequences, particularly during the film's final 20 minutes, which include a heart-pounding chase scene and a nail-biting confrontation.
While the emphasis on drama is one of the movie's main selling points, certain action scenes could have benefited from additional polishing. The opening sequence, featuring rival SWAT teams in a forest, could have been more impactful. I would never write a film off that early, but my hopes were low after that subpar opening.
The movie also highlights the potential rewards of venturing into diverse genres. The successful combination of drama and action in HEART OF DRAGON is a prime example of how such experimentation can create a more engaging and multifaceted narrative. This approach ensures that viewers remain engrossed and emotionally invested from start to finish.
In summary, HEART OF DRAGON is a distinctive and memorable film that showcases the exceptional talents of Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung. Although it may not be their most flawless collaboration, the movie's focus on drama and compelling character development makes it a must-watch for film lovers and martial arts enthusiasts. While it may have shortcomings, its potent blend of drama, action, and emotion ensures it remains a memorable and impactful addition to cinema. By daring to explore a more dramatic aspect of storytelling, HEART OF DRAGON leaves a lasting impression on viewers and secures its place in the annals of Hong Kong cinema.
– 2K restoration from the original negative by Fortune Star
– High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentations of the 91-minute Hong Kong Theatrical Cut and the 99-minute Extended Japanese Cut via seamless branching
– Original lossless Cantonese and English mono audio on both cuts, plus Mandarin on the Theatrical Cut and Cantonese with an alternate score on the Extended Cut
– Optional English subtitles for both cuts
– A brand new commentary by Frank Djeng & FJ DeSanto on the Extended Cut
– The Making of The First Mission and The First Mission: Pre-Release Event, two extended featurettes made to promote the Japanese release by Shochiku
– Archive interview with star Jackie Chan
– Archive interview with star Rocky Lai
– Two archive interviews with director/star Sammo Hung
– Archive interview with cinematographer Arthur Wong
– Alternate English credits as The First Mission
– Trailer gallery, including the ‘music video’ trailer by Su Rui
– Image Gallery
– Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sam Gilbey
– FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collectors' booklet featuring new writing by Dylan Cheung and David West
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[film courtesy of ARROW VIDEO, MVD ENTERTAINMENT]