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More Kicks From Jackie Chan

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
July 26, 1996

With martial arts superstar Jackie Chan, older may be better. "Supercop," shot four years ago, is superior to last year's "Rumble in the Bronx," also directed by veteran Chan-champion Stanley Tong.

Chan has typecast himself, so it hardly matters what the plot or setting is. He's the affable warrior, always ready to flirt or fight while (almost always) doing the right thing the wrong way.

This time around, he's Detective Kevin Chan, sent to China to inflitrate a drug cartel run by the evil Chaibat (Ken Tsang) and his equally evil, temporarily imprisoned brother Panther (Yuen Wah). After breaking out, Chan finds himself joined under the covers by strait-laced Inspector Yang (former Miss Malaysia Michelle Khan).

After that, the plot is a web of trust and betrayal. There are more explosions and gunfights than in most Chan features, but the best moments are the hand-to-hand-to-neck-to-groin combat scenes. Usually, Chan starts out in a defensive posture -- he loves to make opponents miss -- before moving into his trademark super-speedy attack mode.

Chan seems to have met his soul mate in Khan, Asia's top female action star. Like Chan, Khan does her own fighting and stunts. Unlike the Hollywood action contingent, Chan and Khan don't rely on cinematic trickery. Theirs are not special effects, just spectacular ones. Connoisseurs will find Chan's helicopter-train chase far riskier, more exciting and more believable than its mates in "Mission Impossible" and "The Living Daylights."

Both stars carry off the comic relief as frenetic fun, particularly after Chan's girlfriend (Maggie Cheung) shows up in Kuala Lumpur and threatens to blow his cover. It's in the Malaysian capital that the action escalates into public spectacle both on the ground and in the air (no trapeze artist ever worked so high without a net). It may not be great art, but it's great fun.

"Supercop" is dubbed wonderfully badly. While Chan is given a voice that is so thickly accented you wonder why the filmmakers bothered, other Chinese characters speak like Oxford dons. Still, the most recurrent phrases are "Are you okay?" and "Uh?" More incongruous is the soundtrack, which wisely keeps the volume down on cuts from Tha Dogg Pound, Tupac Shakur, Black Grape, No Doubt and Tom Jones (on a bleated update of Carl Douglas's "Kung Fu Fighting"). Unlike Chan and Khan, it packs no punch whatsoever.

Supercop is overrated R for violence.

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