Hearing about how bad the image quality was on the Jackie Chan 4 Film Collection released a little over a year ago was enough to at least make even the most diehard Jackie Chan fans a little skeptical when it came to Shout! Factory's Jackie Chan double feature of "Crime Story" and "The Protector." Surely this would be a similar result since Echo Bridge Home Entertainment crammed four films onto one Blu-ray disc while Shout! Factory managed to pack three ("Crime Story," "The Protector," and the alternate cut/Hong Kong version/Jackie Chan's personal cut of "The Protector") onto one disc. Speaking as a massive Jackie Chan fan, receiving this product resulted in a plethora of emotions. Having never seen "Crime Story" or "The Protector," the opportunity to review this Blu-ray threw these two unseen films within an arm's reach and the excitement to see both suddenly skyrocketed. But the quality was bound to be terrible or they had to put the wrong versions of the films on here or something. “There's got to be something wrong with this release,” you're probably saying to yourself. Take every one of your doubts and kick them in their imaginary sacks because Shout! Factory has outdone themselves with a release Jackie Chan would be proud of.
The Blu-ray looks fantastic for both of the main features. Everything looks crisp and relatively restored. Just watch the alternate cut of "The Protector" or see the original footage of "Crime Story" in the interview with director Kirk Wong to compare how far the quality of the film has come. Speaking of, the alternate cut is relatively dark, only available in Cantonese with English subtitles, and is in standard definition, but apparently that's all that's really available when it comes to this version of the film. You definitely want this version as is rather than not at all though. The special features are relatively slim, but that can be forgiven since there are technically three full-length features on here. On the "Crime Story" side there's a 10-minute interview with director Kirk Wong, six minutes of Deleted Scenes, the Original Trailer, and the US Trailer. With "The Protector," you get the alternate cut of the film which is approximately 88-minutes, the nine and a half minute From New York to Hong Kong featurette, the four minute Locations: Then and Now featurette, five minutes of Behind the Scenes footage, the Hong Kong Trailer, and the US Trailer. From New York to Hong Kong is an interview with director James Glickenhaus and while it's an interesting watch, Glickenhaus comes off as rather pretentious. He seems to take the same issue with Jackie that every other director did once Bruce Lee passed away; he was trying to mold Jackie into Bruce Lee and it just didn't work out. Glickenhaus wasn't a fan of Jackie's comedy and he seems to only have taken the directing job to work with Danny Aiello. Lastly, this is the 107-minute version of "Crime Story" despite what the case says.
The Blu-ray case may say that "Crime Story" isn't rated, but these are definitely two of Jackie Chan's most adult films. "Crime Story" is extremely gritty as the camera work always seems to make you feel like you're taking cover with Jackie or it'll be positioned right where someone's face gets slammed onto a table or against a wall to make you feel every punch and every kick. Yet at the same time, the camera knows when to pull back to capture explosions (which there are aplenty) or more than one individual during a fight. It's darker and bloodier than most of Jackie's works. There's even a sex scene in the middle of it, which seems very out of place for a Jackie Chan film. Jackie plays Eddie Chan, an inspector who is quick tempered whereas Chan Ka Kui from "Police Story" was more reckless. Eddie is more focused and a bit more violent in comparison while also being somewhat haunted by his own demons. The fight in Thailand where Jackie is chasing Simon Ting (Wan Fat) and the fight at the police station that ends with Jackie doing that flawless front flip by the water cooler are not only some of his most entertaining action sequences, but also some of the most raw.
"The Protector" is also a huge side step for Jackie. The film begins with some New York thugs who seem to be straight out of "The Road Warrior" stripping an 18-wheeler at a red light. The film wastes little time splattering blood all over the walls, but what's awkward is hearing Jackie use vulgarity so often. He says just about every cuss word you can think of in this and it just feels weird. There are some really questionable decisions made by some of the characters, as well. Four guys deciding to rob a bar ("Close the door!" which then shows a big guy trying to slam a door, the glass breaks, and the door swings open again), that weird boat chase where Jackie Chan reveals he's yet to learn how to shoot a gun with a really anticlimactic conclusion, and the slow clapping scene at the police station (the cop that starts it is so hilariously creepy) are just a few examples.
Director James Glickenhaus' version of the film is chock full of nudity. You see nothing but every inch of four naked women packing drugs into melons at Harold Ko's (Roy Chiao) shipyard. Jackie's alternate cut of the film includes several other action sequences including a weight lifting fight scene, a fight scene at the docks including Lee Hing (Peter Yang Kwan), and more scenes with Thai massage manager (Shum Wai), but it also introduces May Fong Ho/Sally (Sally Yeh) who is completely absent from the US version. The other interesting aspect is how differently action scenes are edited. The Thai massage sequence seems a bit faster in the alternate cut, but the big difference comes in during last fight between Billy (Jackie Chan) and Benny Garrucci (Bill Wallace). In the US version, it seems very one-sided and Jackie gets the snot beat out of him. He seems to escape with his life because of a lucky shot. In the alternate cut, it's much more even. The fight lasts longer; it's edited differently with different scenes, and is much more enjoyable. Not to mention nearly all of the vulgarity is removed and every nude woman has either been taken out completely or replaced with scientists in lab coats. Both versions have their ups and downs (the main one being characters in both versions either disappear completely without reason or show up to help without any explanation), but the alternate cut will be more enjoyable for Jackie Chan fans because it's more along the lines of what you'd expect from one of his films.
This is a really solid release all around. The films look and sound great and it's just an incredible bargain for the price. You have two of Jackie Chan's most adult films on one disc in all of their glory. Action fans will be extremely pleased.