During the course of this analysis of how action filmmakers started making deliberately muddled action sequences in the Nineties, David Bordwell pits a fistfight from one of the lamer James Bond flicks, Tomorrow Never Dies, against the all-out shopping mall slugfest Jackie Chan staged for the climax of Police Story. (Considering that Police Story opened with this, Chan had to go a long way to top himself.) Part of it is Chan’s immense on-screen charm, but I find it impossible to watch one of his bouts without cracking up at least once. Bordwell’s right — entirely too many “action” filmmakers have lost the ability to make good action sequences.
Bordwell’s post gives me an excuse to plug the extended dustup between Chan and kickboxing champion Benny “The Jet” Urquidez at the end of the preposterously titled Wheels on Meals. Though its not nearly as intense as the final sword-fight in Rob Roy, it reminds me of that gold-standard sequence in the way Chan starts messing with Urquidez once it becomes clear who’s going to win. It’s not as nasty as Archie Cunningham’s cocksure mind games, but sitting down to take a breather, knowing your opponent is so bushed that he won’t be able to come at you, certainly ranks as an epic psych-out.