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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

City Hunter (1993)
(2018 Restoration)


Starring: Jackie Chan, Joey Wong, Kumiko Goto, Chingmy Yau, Carol Wan and Leon Lai
Distributor: Eureka Entertainment
RRP: £19.99


Certificate: 12
Release Date: 24 September 2018

City Hunter (1993. 1 hr 39 min 27 sec) is an action comedy, directed by Jing Wong and starring Jackie Chan. The film is based on an original manga, which spawned a whole franchise of films, anime and television programs. The basic premise is that Ryo Saeba is the titular City Hunter, a private detective who spends as much time behaving lecherously towards women as he does solving crimes.

The plot sees Ryo inherit a young girl, Kaori Makimura (Joey Wang) who grows up not only to be beautiful, but also to be infatuated with Ryo, although he spends much of his time dreaming of being surrounded by women in a swimming pool. The two are called in to see a Japanese publishing magnate and charged to find his missing daughter. Ryo nearly catches her, but she slips away and joins a cruise ship full of wealthy people.

Having gained access to the ship, Ryo quickly discovers that there are terrorists aboard who intend to hijack the ship and steal all the money.

The idea behind the film was to translate the manga/anime aesthetic into a live action film. The colour palette chosen is predominantly primary, although the overall effect does give the movie a very vibrant look.

Manga and animes can often be very over the top, some are very sexualised. Chan’s portrayal reflects both of these elements, but not successfully. It is difficult to forget that you are watching Chan and the exaggerated facial expressions can only vaguely approximate those found in the original.

The objectification of the female actors is likely to be more problematic in these changing times. The offence is no greater than your average Carry On film, with a similar level of teenage puerility. Some of it may have come from the original material, as I wasn’t too sure why he would stare at a woman’s breasts, arms and legs and see burgers and chicken wings. This may have been a forewarning of his eventual predicament when he spends much of the latter half of the film complaining of being hungry.

The fight sequences are well choreographed. Played for laughs, there is one long extended Street Fighter match with the combatants changing into characters from the game.

The disc boats a 1080p 2K restoration. However, there is the occasional odd thing which happens when the quality of the film drops dramatically, making it look as though some action sequences have been spliced back into the film from poorer quality stock.

The Blu-ray arrives with a number of extras. First up you get Interviews, two with Chan (English. 10 min, 06 sec) talking about the difficulties of translating a cartoon character into a live action film and (English. 3 min, 39 sec) where he talks about the fighting style of the film. Wong Jing, the director (English. 7 min, 13 sec) talks about his approach to the film. Stunt man, Rocky Lai (Cantonese. 10 min, 58 sec) talks about how he got into the business and his memories of the film. Richard Norton, martial artist (15 min, 16 sec) recounts his memories of the film as does Gary Daniels (29 min, 50 sec), both of who play roles in the film.

You get the Outtakes Musical Video (2 min, 35 sec), an interesting idea to sting the pratfalls to a musical track. If that were not enough, you also get an Outtakes Montage (4 min, 38 sec), a different name, but the same principle as the first outtake extra. Penultimately, there is the Japanese Ending Credits (3 min, 36 sec) and lastly, there are a few trailers and TV spots.

There are various audio options, Cantonese 5.1, stereo and mono, English 5.1 as well as an alternative audio dub. For subtitles you get English and English with Gala Gala Happy, this only effects one sequence in the film, which is best played without it.

Normally I don’t bother much with subtitle tracks, but it’s well worth turning them on for this film. While the English dub is acceptable the subtitles look like they have been written by someone who knows neither Cantonese nor English and are therefore unintentionally very funny.

Overall, it has the same silly level of humour as Super Mario Bros (1993), an equally poor adaptation which came out in the same year. It’s not the best adaptation of a manga/anime, nor is it Chan’s best work.


Charles Packer

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