A Classic from the Days of VHS
After the release of Armour of God many fans of the film wanted to see Jackie return to the roll. In 1991 that goal was met when Armour of God II Operation Condor was released.
But like so many sequels of films , would it live up to the hype?
In all honesty the shooting of Operation Condor was not smooth running due to the shooting locations .
Though Mainly shot in Spain , Madrid and Morocco some scenes where shot in Hong Kong and elsewhere.
But I remember reading around release that the Moroccan shoot took longer then expected and it was quite a exhausting for cast and crew shooting in the Desert.
So could the Asian Hawk out do Indiana Jones once again?
Well yes as it goes. Though the story was more akin to a a Indiana Jones movie where Jackie is employed by the Count to go in search of Gold hidden during World War 2 in a German Bunker located in a unknown location.
Along for the ride is Historian Ada played by Do Do Cheng .
First Jackie and Ada must get clues to where the site of the bunker is and this is done through research and discovering a a special key.
But Jackie and Ada are not the only ones after the gold . A pair of Moroccan men who are more like a comedy duo are harassing a Young girl by the name of Elsa played by Eva Cobo .
Elsa is the grand daughter of a German soldier who went missing . Also on the trail is another Ex German soldier aptly named Adolph who is also in search of the map and key to the base. Along with his band of Mercenaries led by Vincent Lyn.
After rescuing Elsa Jackie connects with her and she invites herself along for the journey much to the disparagement by Ada.
Now Operation Condor has a longer running time then it's predecessor and this helps establish the characters well. By this point in to the film you know your in for a treat.
At the time many wondered if Jackie could really pull it off and better the original . Whether it does or not is a hard one to narrow down as both films have their pros and not many Cons.
I suppose the one thing that stands out the most with Operation Condor is the budget was higher and it shows. The production is huge for a Hong Kong film of it's time and in fact it was the most expensive Hong Kong film at the time with a budget of around $15 Million US .
But what about the action , well there's plenty of it and Jackie delivers on all counts . Even the opening scene where Jackie is scene stealing or should we say acquiring rare gems from a remote tribal race in a far away land is something that would be a show peace for some other films ending.
Though Jackie is allowed to take the gems he falls foul of the tribal warriors when he drinks there sacred water.
This results in a a huge chase as Jackie flees and has a crazy moment where he escapes down a mountain in a giant inflatable ball.
From a film perspective it's a quite a spectacle.
And the film just keeps giving , from many small encounters Jackie has with the two opposing sides which shows his ability to jump around and balance on ledges smaller then a matchstick. They are just sublime to watch.
Seeing Jackie Leap of a Motor cycle on to some hanging packing crates over a harbour is a standout moment.
Once the gang are all on there way to find the mysterious bunker in the Moroccan desert the film has that epic feel to it as if the big adventure is just starting.
A hotel scene that has the adventurers causing a ruckus as some of their foe find them is so well thought out. from some brilliant sexual innuendo to out right comedy inter sped with action is another scene where Jackie gets to show of his skills and his direction.
Of note this scene was shot in Hong Kong and they shipped in the sand for filming , over four tonnes of it.
There's a also a darker side to the story , one of betrayal and of course the persistent Adolph whose mercenaries who have little value of life run wild.
But Jackie soon shifts this to a comical scene to brighten the mood. .
Even upon finding the location of the secret Bunker how they discover it is one of comical genius as Jackie and the gang encounter a local tribe and have to escape.
The final of the film is magnificent and shows once again why this film cost so much to make and so long.
Filmed in a Automotive Wind Tunnel centre the cumulative scene is a flurry of Jackie magic as he battles the mercenaries in a fight that is entwined with them trying to discover the missing gold.
As per usual the inclusion of Jackie's stunt team members ( Ken Lo , Mars , Bemmy Lai ) and Vincent Lyn , Steve Tartalia and Ken Goodmen make for some eye popping fight scenes that are inventive and out right dangerous as they jump across platforms.
In fact Jackie got injured in one scene where he injured his sternum when he lost grip on a chain he was using to traverse one platform to another and fell face down to the ground. You can see this in the outtakes.
For us in the West we had to wait till 1993 before the film was released on to VHS . but like many fans like me I got to see the film earlier as boot legs of the film where available on VHS and must admit I possess a couple of those with the original soundtrack .
Of course when the film released in 1993 we got a nice print by Entertainment in video with a English dubbed soundtrack which other then giving us a better picture also made the film a whole new experience.
The UK got the Hong Kong uncut print at 106 minutes , it was later released on to DVD but was just a transfer of the VHS .
The USA did get a cinema release of the film but it was not released till 1997 and had fifteen minutes of cuts.
It was not till 2004 in Hong Kong when Intercontinental released a uncut remaster on DVD that a better version of the film was available .
Here at Kick'em in the Ghoulies we have nearly imported that version as we still only had the VHS prints of the film to view ,even though I could transfer them to DVD.
But 2020 saw the film finally get a full blown Bluray release in the UK from those masters of cinema 88 Films.
Hong Kong remaster release on DVD
Entertainment in Video VHS UK release Poster
Cinema Release poster
Director - Jackie Chan
Producer - Raymond Chow / Leonard Ho
Written By - Jackie Chan / Edward Tang
Music By - Chris Babida
Release Date - February 7th 1991
Language - Cantonese
Country - Hong Kong
Running Time - 106 Minutes Standard Version
Special Edit - 117 Minutes
A Rip Roaring Ride of Fight Action intertwined with Some of the Most Complex Stunts Ever Filmed and with a Story to Boot