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DVD Review: Robin-B-Hood
Ryan Midnight   |  

Robin-B-Hood DVDRobin-B-Hood (2006)
Directed by Benny Chan
Written by Jackie Chan and Yuen Kam-Lun
Starring Jackie Chan, Louis Koo, Michael Hui, Yuen Biao, Charlene Choi, Conroy Chan
Dragon Dynasty
Available Dec. 25, 2007

Master thief and compulsive gambler Thongs (Jackie Chan) along with his womanizing criminal partner Octopus (Louis Koo) find themselves smack in the middle of Three Men And A Baby when their boss kidnaps a newborn that will be passed on to the grandfather for a fee of seven million dollars! Thongs and Octopus, who have no experience with babies, must watch over the tyke for a week until the arrangement is all sorted out, during which time the pair have to take a crash course in caring for an infant, avoid the suspicion of the local authorities, and deal with pesky triad debt collectors. But when it is finally time to turn the baby over, will Thongs and Octopus be able to put aside their newfound parenting instincts in return for the big payday?

Jackie Chan’s latest Hong Kong film effort, which he co-wrote along with first time writer Yuen Kam-Lun, is a mixed bag of classic Chan marital arts hi-jinx and physical comedy with some more heavy-handed issues of familial responsibilities that haven’t been seen since some of his drama-oriented Eighties fare. Chan’s martial arts and acrobatics are on minimal (yet still impressive) display throughout this babysitting epic, and instead favors two-man comedic bits with co-star Louis Koo, with assistance from Chinese comic legend Michael Hui as their boss.

Under the direction of Benny Chan, who may be best known in the west for his previous collaboration with Jackie on Who Am I and the Gen-X Cops series, Jackie shines through with his usual charismatic self. Though it takes Jackie almost an hour to get into the first fight sequence, it is great to see that the 53-year-old actor can still pull off some incredible aerial feats and go toe-to-toe with martial artists half his age. The choreography, which has been set up by Jackie and his stunt team, is as fluid as always and once again utilizes unique set-ups to their full advantage. Though there are a few wire cheats used to keep the actor safe, Jackie still gets away with a lot more on his home turf than he ever would in an American production, including the avoiding a two car collision and dodging multiple speeding trains on a spiraling rollercoaster. Despite Jackie’s desire to become someone known as a great actor, the stuntwork and action sequences seen here are still the number one reason to keep tabs on him.

When Jackie isn’t on the action offensive, he is on the defensive protecting his toddler charge and getting into some quite low-brow humor as he and Louis Koo deal with dirty diapers and feeding times. The infant allows Jackie to get into some quite silly singing and dancing routines to keep a smile on the baby’s face, and also lets him sneak in a few heart-tugging moments as he grows ever closer to the baby. Benny Chan takes every chance he can get to sugar coat the film with shots of the baby being adorable, even as action and excitement put him in a constant state of peril.

Long-time Hong Kong fans will be pleased as punch to see many familiar faces getting co-starring roles and cameos. Yuen Biao shows up as the detective trailing Thongs, who gets to throw a few kicks and punches during a brawl in an apartment as he tries fruitlessly to arrest the thief. Jackie and Yuen have a long history together, and that camaraderie shows through in their performances. Charlene Choi, who is part of the canto-pop duo Twins, pops in along with Daniel Wu and Nicholas Tse as two security guards.

At over two hours in length and with so much going on in the film, the pacing suffers a bit in between the larger action sequences. Subplots dealing with Thong’s estranged family and Octopus’s ignored pregnant wife, add a contrasting tone to the more light-hearted feel of the rest of the picture. While these scenes do add a bit of development of the characters and pay off in the end, is that really something that is necessary for a movie that involves a car chase with a baby basket attached to a bumper or soiled diapers being used as weapons? But these minor points aside, Robin-B-Hood is still very much a Jackie Chan picture, and while this is by no means a place to start in his vast cinematic history, fans should rest easy knowing that the aging martial artist still has it.

Jackie’s latest effort comes to U.S. shores courtesy of Dragon Dynasty with a two-disc special edition. The film itself is presented in anamorphic widescreen with the original Cantonese soundtrack in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS options. As usual, Dragon Dynasty provides an English dub, and as usual it is best to avoid it if at all possible. The first disc’s sole extra is an audio commentary by director Benny Chan and is in Cantonese with English subtitles. Benny gives a standard director’s commentary as he hits on stories from the set and on Jackie’s career, but is not very entertaining, and his dry presentation gets a little droll. Your best bet is to just switch over to the track during the action sequences for his thoughts on getting the dangerous stunts on film.

The second disc offers a much more thorough look at the film’s creation than Benny’s audio commentary can portray as the classic outtakes shown at the end of the film are greatly expanded on in the making of featurette. Jackie’s solo interview is quite insightful as he goes on about wanting to try new things, new characters, and hints that a new project with Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, and himself could be coming soon. Benny Chan as well as co-star Conroy Chan are put into the solo interview hot seat to put additional touches on their experiences making the movie, while a separate featurette gets most of the cast in on the interviewing fun.

Dragon Dynasty also ports over the original “Making Of” for Robin-B-Hood that was produced in Hong Kong. Besides the main actors being interviewed, you’ll also get a behind-the-scenes peak at the set ups for all the major stunts, the original Hong Kong trailer, and Jackie Chan singing the theme song, all wrapped up in a lovely 20-minute bundle.

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