The Original VPD American Imperial Poster for he UK VHS Release of the film - Featuring brilliant Artwork
(c) Image Copyright 1986 Golden Harvest / (c) 1987 American Imperial
The phrase "Armor of God" is directly derived from Ephesians 6:11 (New International Version): "Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes." As a Biblical reference, the metaphor may refer literally to physical armour worn by God in metaphorical battles, or it may refer to vigilant righteousness in general as bestowed by the grace of God
For a while now I have been meaning to review this film, for two reasons or more.
For one it was that it almost cost Jackie his life at the tender age of 32 when a simple stunt (by Jackie's terms) went wrong and resulted in him cracking open his skull.
Two, it is one of the most successful films Jackie has made (especially in Europe) and spawned an equally successful sequel and a third many years later.
In this film, Jackie plays Jackie aka Asian Hawk an adventurist who seeks out long-lost articles and treasures for wealthy gain. From the beginning of the film we are witness to the Asian Hawk infiltrating a remote tribal camp to claim a long lost sword, with a display of classic Jackie Kung Fu he confronts the tribe, captures the sword, and escapes by sledging down a steep hill face and jumping into a large Bubble ball to escape and take off in his light aircraft.
From the outset you are treated and stunned by what you see in the stunts and martial talent of Jackie as he leaps and bounces around, there is more action in the first ten minutes than in an Indiana Jones movie, and top of that it's done for real.
You also notice Jackie's hair suddenly become longer at the beginning, as it was early in filming that Jackie had his accident, hence the longer hair, most probably to hide the scar from the operation he had on his head, which had to have a plastic plate fixed in.
Next Jackie is seen selling the sword in auction and cheating to get the price up by having a stool pigeon bidding for him.
But is when Jackie arrives back at his hotel that the film gets underway,as there are messages from a past friend with who Jackie used to be in a band ( Alan and Laura).
The thing is Laura has a successful fashion career and Alan is now a top Canto Popstar ( funny that Alan Tam being a Cantopop star)
Now during one of Laura's shows, she is kidnapped and the kidnappers have sent Alan her boyfriend a ransom demand, but not for money, they want the Armour of God (See Above).
Knowing that Jackie had the sword which he just sold the kidnappers have used his friends against him to get what they want.
Now the kidnappers are a cult who believe with the Armour they can have the ultimate power, the Armour consists of five pieces, they have asked Alan for three pieces of the Armour, so they must have already had the other two. Their plan is to ask a wealthy man Mr, Bannon ( a collector of antiques) to borrow the pieces he has, when they arrive Bannon has no interest in their money and Alan decides he will borrow them himself. Now the house is heavily guarded and Alan is caught, on top of that Mr, Bannon's daughter is the girl who bought the sword in an auction from cheating Jackie.
The main fault here is the five pieces of the Armour, in fact, the real Armour consisted of six pieces from what is known, read below.
*In terms of the parts of the Armour of God, the various pieces (the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the "shoes" of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit) are correlated to what Paul would have witnessed firsthand as the arms and armour of Roman legionnaires during his life in the Roman Empire.*
A minor flaw but, it would have been nice for them to get it right.
So what can Jackie and Alan offer Mr, Bannon, How about a full set of the armour if he lends Jackie his three? He agrees and his daughter May demands to go along to keep an eye on proceedings.
First, they must travel to where the cult is stationed.
Luckily Mr, Bannon has a house they can stay in nearby. The cult base is in the mountains and they must meet their contacts in a nearby town which I believe is in Croatia Zagreb (Dolac Central Market, Upper town, Trnje.Being filmed in the then Former Yugoslavia the film was filmed in Croatia and Slovenia. The main shots of the cult base were in Slovenia, Predjamski grad near Postojna.
It looks familiar because I have been there, but many years after this film was made.
So as not to lose the Armour our three heroes employ a plan to offer them the Armour, but when it's discovered to be a dustbin lid and broom the kidnappers are none too pleased. This results in a chase sequence filmed in the streets that defy belief as cars roll and crash in spectacular incidents that you will be sure people have died here. One scene has a 4x4 rolling down a flight of stairs in a market with people running for their lives and it all looks so close it's breathtaking.
So now they must get into the base of the cult, so they hijack a couple of the cult's people and disguise themselves so they may enter their lair.
The thing is the cult leaders are not so stupid and realise that the Asian Hawk has entered the base, which is high up in the mountains. Whilst May occupies an official there the boys try and find Laura to set her free. Now the cult has planned ahead and has drugged Laura so she is under their control. The three achieve their goal and free Laura and get her back to their house.
The film goes through a lot of innuendoes once back at the house with Laura acting funny around Jackie and May falling out with Jackie because of a passionate moment ruined by Jackie's crudeness. Laura is curious so thinks Jackie as she wants to see the Armour, but Alan is not so sure.
In a scene from a slapstick movie the four occupants, run around the house either trying to avoid each other, get a peek at the Armour, or borrow it in Alan's case, and Jackie's tries to make amends with May, but when Laura ends up in Jackie's room May sees and is dismayed,
meanwhile, Alan is tracking Jackie and when he goes to Jackie's room Laura drugs him, thinking he is Jackie.
The following morning Jackie discovers May and Alan plus the Armour has gone. Now it's up to Jackie to get the Armour and free his friends from the cult.
With no concern for his safety, he heads to the base high up in the mountains, breaking in and sneaking in to trace Alan and Laura's whereabouts. With spates of Monkey style jumping Jackie shows agility you have to marvel at as he hides and runs around. Once locating the twosome he agrees to free Laura and she remembers his nickname ''cowboy'' it's then he knows that the drugs have worn off.
In a play-off against Alan, he plans to leave Alan behind to fend for himself and get Laura out, but with a smoochy speech for Laura, she says she's not going without him. With that Jackie says OK but it's gonna cost you ( playing the hard man).
When Alan gets accidentally pushed down a food store chute Jackie ends up going to save him once again, it's this scene that highlights Jackie's ability to combine comedy and Kung Fu into a piece of entertainment that will have you reaching for the rewind button to view the action you missed because you were laughing.
A brilliant scene with a log ( or should I say a tree) on fire to ward off attack from cult members and a fight with plates and food that gets out of control for real by the looks of it.
Upon getting Laura and Alan to safety he stays behind to regain the Armour of God and now he must confront the cult's prime fighters, four Amazon Women which will give him hell. It's well known in this fight that Jackie wanted to get away from the multiple attackers attacking one at a time, here all four fighters attack him head-on and Jackie has to fight to survive, there are some doubling scenes for the women, you can see members of Jackie's stunt team in drag fighting JACKIE.
Once defeated Jackie is fronted out by the hordes of cult members. But with one last chance and the fact that Jackie is wired to blow with Dynamite he bluffs his way out of trouble but not before all goes wrong and the place is blowing up around him, Now he must get out and out he does as he Leaps from the mountainside of the base camp to a Hot air Balloon just below him in the sky. This is Jackie doing what Jackie does best entertain and spellbind with his feats.
Though of note, Jackie did not base jump off the mountain to the hot air balloon as he had no experience in doing so.
He actually sky-jumped out of a plane to do the stunt.
Armour of God is a Hong Kong film that deserves to be seen by everyone. there are many intricate scenes that deserve a second or third viewing to fully discover the magic on screen.
Score out Ten = 9
Review By : Sertes Nake
Original Review date : 26 June 2010 / Updated 14th September 2020
This review was based on watching both the original VHS VPD UK release and the UK Region 2 Hong Kong Legends release on DVD.
(C) image copyright 1993 Star TV Entertainment / (c) 2000 Medusa Communications
Produced By : Leonard K C Ho / Chua Lam
Written By : Jackie Chan / John Shephard / Eric Tsang
Starring :Jackie Chan / Alan Tam / Lola Forner / Rosamund Kwan
Directed by : Jackie Chan / Eric Tsang - 1986
Release January 1986 Japan / 1987 Hong Kong
Production Company : Golden Way Films / Golden Harvest
Distributed By : Golden Harvest / Media Asia
Running Time : 97 Minutes
Language: Cantonese / Dubbed English
Near Death: During filming, one scene called for him to jump from a wall to a tree branch. The first take went perfectly, but Chan wasn't satisfied and had wanted to do the scene again. On his second jump, the branch broke and he fell 150 feet to the ground below. His head hit a rock, cracking his skull and shooting a piece of bone up into his brain. Chan was flown to the hospital and was in surgery 8 hours later.
Box office draw: At the Hong Kong box office, Armour of God was Chan's biggest hit up to that point, grossing HK $35,469,408 in its theatrical run.
Confused : In one scene Jackie's character infiltrates the cult's hideout and rescues Alan and Laura. Laura accidentally addresses Jackie as "Kong-sang". Later, when Jackie tries to leave Alan in the prison by himself, Alan addresses him as "Chan Kong-Sang''. Chan Kong-Sang is actually Jackie Chan's real life birth name. In the dubbed US version of the film, these errors are covered by changing "Kong-sang" to "cowboy". In another dubbed version, the 'Kong-Sang' is left in but explained by Jackie that only she is allowed to call him that, turning the name into a nickname between lovers.
End Fight Change: Before Jackie injured himself the plan was for Kung Fu / Tang Soo Do star Cynthia Rothrock to be Jackie's opponent at the end of the film. But due to his hospitalisation and the delay in filming it clashed with the filming of Yuen Biao's 'Above te Law ' aka Righting Wrongs which had Cynthia Rothrock in a co-starring role, this why we find Jackie fighting the Supposed Amazon Women instead.
Different Versions: The longest version seems to be the Hong Kong original which is the same as the Hong Kong Legends release.
The original VHS release in the UK by VPD was slightly shorter and had a different English Dub to the one used on the Hong Kong Legends release.
The USA release had about nine minutes in cuts , mainly surrounding the clips featuring the Band and the scene in the house they stay in is shortened to.
Also the ending songs are different in the versions. Alan Tam and Jackie each recorded their songs Lorelei and High Upon High in both Cantonese and English.
In the UK VHS release Jackie sings High Upon High in the end Credits in English . In the Hong Kong Legends release the end credits feature Alan Tam singing Lorelei.
Also the song Friends features in English in the VPD VHS release, in the Hong Legends release it's in Cantonese.
For people who like me saw the original VHS VPD release in 1987, I feel that version holds a special place in our hearts. It has i believe the better English Dub , some lines are not the same in the Hong Kong Legends release.
Though watching the film in Cantonese does offer a new perspective which I also enjoyed.
*Note some of these facts where taken from the Wikpedia page on the film
Other films in the series reviewed on site
Jackie Chan / Do Do Cheng
Jackie Chan / Ken Lo