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 role. 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 were shot in Hong Kong and elsewhere.
But I remember reading around release that the Moroccan shoot took longer than expected and it was quite exhausting for cast and crew shooting in the Desert.
So could the Asian Hawk outdo Indiana Jones once again?
Well yes as it goes. Though the story was more akin to an 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 an 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 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 granddaughter 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 than its predecessor and this helps establish the characters well. By this point in the film, you know you're 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 its 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 faraway land is something that would be a show of peace for some other film's ending.
Though Jackie is allowed to take the gems he falls foul of the tribal warriors when he drinks their sacred water.
This results in 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 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 than a matchstick. They are just sublime to watch.
Seeing Jackie Leap of a Motorcycle onto some hanging packing crates over a harbour is a standout moment.
Once the gang is all on their 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 foes find them is so well thought out. from some brilliant sexual innuendo to outright comedy inter sped with action is another scene where Jackie gets to show off 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 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 has 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 an Automotive Wind Tunnel center 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 Tartaglia, and Ken Goodmen make for some eye-popping fight scenes that are inventive and outright 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 facedown 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 bootlegs of the film were available on VHS, and must admit I possess a couple of those with the original soundtrack.
Of course when the film was released in 1993 we got a nice print by Entertainment in video with an English dubbed soundtrack which other than 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 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 an 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.
Sometimes patience is a virtue and how patient have we all been in the West for a release of Operation Condor that finally does justice to the film?
Not only that but here we have the definitive version with an unreleased longer edit of the film at 117 minutes and the original Hong Kong edit at 106 minutes all on the same disc.
And accompanied by a lovely pamphlet featuring artwork and stills from the film.
And all courtesy of those marvelous people at 88 FILMS.
This truly is the defining moment for Armour of God II Operation Condor.
There's No doubt many have been waiting for a version of Operation Condor like this in the West for years.
Offering Two versions with the extended cut in Cantonese with Subtitles. The Hong Kong Cut is watchable in both Cantonese and an English Dubbed soundtrack.
As yet we have only seen Extended Cut Cantonese print of the Blu-ray , and will give our personal view of the English dubbed version later on where I will add my view here.
I often found with the old Kong Kong Legends releases that the English Dubs were different from the original VHS releases of the many Jackie Chan films.
Picture wise the print is gorgeous with very little signs of the age of the film and was watching this on a projector screen of 80 inches in quite a small room, so I am sitting no more than seven feet away and the picture is crisp.
Sound-wise it was very good and through a Dolby Digital 5.1 system, all was fine.
I love the Double-sided Blu-ray case cover with new artwork and the original Hong Kong cover on the reverse side. And don't forget the slipcover as well which has the new artwork on it.
88 Films have done the many Jackie Chan film fans proud with this release and we will be looking at other releases of theirs shortly.
Unlike many of these new releases, I was in serious need of a good print of this film, whereas with many other Jackie Chan films I have various versions on VHS and Disc.
But if you're new to collecting Jackie Chan films then you can't go far wrong with the releases from 88 Films.
Review Date: February 2021
Reviewer: Sertes Nake
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