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Fox Home Entertainment presents
Heart of the Dragon (1985)

"You're going to abandon me!"
- Danny (Sammo Hung)

Review By: Dan Heaton   
Published: December 21, 2003

Stars: Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung
Other Stars: Hoi Mang, Kar Lok Chin, Wah Yuen, Lung Chan
Director: Sammo Hung

MPAA Rating: R for violence
Run Time: 01h:31m:00s
Release Date: December 30, 2003
UPC: 024543100959
Genre: action


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C- D+B+B+ D+

DVD Review

During my teenage years in the mid-1990s, I grew especially fond of the silly action films of Jackie Chan, whose star was just beginning to rise in America. The clever stunts and quick pacing of hits like Rumble in the Bronx and Supercop sent me looking for his classic Hong Kong work. I discovered that his past included the usual hits and misses, but found that the bad ones were especially awful. Heart of the Dragon stands as easily one of the worst Chan movies I've witnessed. It's no surprise that Chan plays a cop with especially good martial-arts skills, but there's a different twist here. Sammo Hung plays his mentally challenged brother, Danny, who gets into trouble and has problems with even the most basic tasks.

The story begins with a sloppy police training battle that offers rough editing and horrendous acting. Chan shows off a few nice moves, but most of the action remains the usual tedious fighting. He plays Ted, who's not only a cop but also dreams about being a sailor. This plot element is also not believable and seems designed only to create dramatic conflict. How can Ted take care of Danny if he's out at sea? What will his girlfriend think about the choice? These questions are handled in boring fashion and lead to few moments of interest. Supported by oddball music that makes everything sillier than what's needed, this story's tone is uneven and boring.

Sammo Hung also directed this picture, and he tries to bring some humanity when portraying Danny, but certain moments are ridiculous and insulting. One scene involves a misunderstanding with not paying at a restaurant, which causes the restaurant owners to start beating Danny without mercy. It would be obvious to anyone that this 30-year-old guy is mentally slow, but that wouldn't make for an interesting scene. Instead, Danny flees into a freezer and nearly dies due to the owners' callousness. Events designed to generate sympathy for him generally fall flat, and the planned emotional moments are groan-inducing.

The story becomes complicated by another misunderstanding that places a cache of stolen jewelry into Danny's possession. Both the robbers and policemen (lead by Ted) are searching for the loot, which places them in conflict with the big guy's unknowing complicity. Heart of the Dragon shifts gears during its second half and becomes a more typical cops-and-robbers film. Sadly, this doesn't help matters, and the events remain tedious throughout the running time. Even a car chase and some nice stunts can't save the picture, and the ultimate end is more relieving than thrill-inducing.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Heart of the Dragon utilizes a solid 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that includes few defects. The grainy moments are kept to a minimum, and everything looks decent throughout the presentation. The colors were a bit muted and could have been sharper, but that aspect only detracts slightly from the picture. The overall transfer is very good and provides some worthwhile visual scenes.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
English, Chineseyes
DTSEnglish, Chineseyes


Audio Transfer Review: This release includes both Dolby 5.1 and DTS audio transfers, and neither one provides a stunning experience. However, they do present the action scenes and oddball music solidly through all the speakers. Both versions are available in the original Chinese and dubbed English languages. The power level of these tracks are fairly limited compared to some of the best DVD offerings, but they still provide an acceptable viewing.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring City Hunter, Hong Kong 1941, Naked Killer, Magnificent Warriors, and Magnificent Butcher
2 Deleted Scenes
Packaging: unmarked keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Heart of the Dragon features two unreleased fight scenes that play more like a Jackie Chan music video than as part of the original film. They run for about three minutes and include plenty of impressive stunts. This disc includes the original trailer for Heart of the Dragon, which runs for more than five minutes and features the songs. It does not include subtitles. A second trailer is newer and spotlights the film's action elements. You also can view widescreen trailers for City Hunter, Hong Kong 1941, Naked Killer, Magnificent Warriors, and Magnificent Butcher. These films feature some of Hong Kong's most recognizable stars, including Chan, Chow Yun-Fat, and Michelle Yeoh.

Extras Grade: D+

 

Final Comments

Heart of the Dragon definitely stands apart from most Jackie Chan films, and I guess that should be a laudatory aspect. However, the overall execution is so sloppy that even this different approach doesn't work too well. This might not be Chan's worst film, but it definitely ranks on the bottom level of his career.

 


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