Thunderbolt Movie Review

Movie Review by Anthony Leong © Copyright 1997

Hey Cougar... why not just kill them and go?
Don't you think I know how to use a gun? This is my game.
Up to you.

If you're looking for good dialogue in a Jackie Chan movie, dream on. But if you are looking for 'creative' ways that people can get beat up, then you're in the right place.

"Thunderbolt" was a 1995 Hong Kong release that is on the schedule of Jackie Chan films coming to North America through Quentin Tarantino's Rolling Thunder distribution company, but is available on laserdisc now. It is your typical 'Die Hard Days of Thunder' movie, about Jackie, who customizes cars for his father's towing business. He is a nice wholesome character that can do no wrong and happens to be a master of martial arts (as in all his other movies).

Hey you! Feeling good? I feel great! I want you to race with me!

The comic book plot has Jackie crossing paths with a well-financed-ponytail-wearing-Eurotrash-killer-with-worse-dialogue-than-the-protagonist, Cougar. Cougar is being chased after by an Interpol agent (Michael Wong, who you may remember from the television production of John Woo's "Once a Thief") and happens to be a really good race car driver, seeking the next big thrill. Well, Jackie's actions and testimony land Cougar in jail, but not for long. A daring and violent blood-soaked attack on the police station, borrowing many cues from John Woo movies, liberates Cougar, who then exacts his revenge on Jackie by using a crane to tear apart his family home. Cougar then kidnaps Jackie's two younger sisters and uses them as bait to force him to race in Japan. And so Jackie, who hasn't raced in years (this crucial piece of backstory is never explained), does whatever he can to free his sisters. Along the way, he falls in love with a reporter that follows him around.

So you prefer stick to carrot!

The martial arts are okay, with the flimsy plot giving Jackie Chan any excuse to do his trademark one-man-butt-kicking-contest, though not in such a 'creative' manner as seen in "Rumble in the Bronx" (where he used household appliances in imaginative ways). The rest of the movie is basically lots of fast cars driving really fast and crashing. There are a couple of interesting action sequences, such as a fight utilizing trampolines in a pachinko (Japanese equivalent of pinball) outlet and the destruction of the Jackie Chan family home by a crane. Of course, in keeping with the tradition of Jackie Chan movies, not a strong female character is to be found (the only exception I've seen to this rule was in last summer's "Supercop"). In contrast to Chan's previous movies, there seems to be a preponderance of stop-motion-slo-mo footage for the action sequences, almost in the style of Wong Kar-Wai.

You a big man go after big business leaving me a little woman to handle minor affairs.

"Thunderbolt" was an interesting diversion, much better than the lethargic "First Strike", though not up to par with "Rumble in the Bronx" nor "Supercop". Visceral thrills is what it's all about.

Go Back to Movie Review Archive Index