NOTE: The Buena Vista release of The Accidental Spy is missing over twenty minutes of footage. This is not a change new to the DVD. American companies traditionally butcher Hong Kong movies, even those starring huge stars like Jackie Chan, for their local release. The following review is of the shortened film which, possibly thanks to the incredible amount of excised footage, makes almost no sense. An import of the film is also available, presumably with the full version, but this reviewer hasn't seen that release.
THE STRAIGHT DOPE:
Jackie Chan may well be the world's greatest natural asset. Virtually everything he does (aside, perhaps, from his terrible cartoon) is worth watching if for no other reason than he's so damn entertaining. Not all of his movies are groundbreaking masterpieces, however, and they often seek to slide by just on his charms alone. The Accidental Spy is basically a poorly thought-out romp through Hong Kong, Seoul, and Istanbul. Globetrotting isn't new to Jackie (First Strike hit the Ukraine, Russia, and Australia) and the title could really double for nearly every Jackie movie. (Even in the ones where he plays a real spy his involvement in the plot seems like an accident.)
In this film Jackie plays a sporting goods salesman who winds up finding his father (or does he?) and playing some sort of game (or is it?) that leads to a lot of falling, kicking, and driving. Jackie is obviously cooling it a bit on the hand-to-hand (he's 48, for crying out loud!) but even a slow day for Jackie includes some incredible stunts, including jumping from a roof onto a crane and jumping off a bridge. There's one funny sequence where Jackie runs nude through a crowded Turkish marketplace (he's much more shy than Austin Powers), but a truck-chase scene is a straight rip-off of Speed and one scene early on shows the filmmakers at their laziest: Jackie fights two thugs in an elevator filled with what appears to be crates full of bowling balls, but nothing ever comes of it.
Overall The Accidental Spy is a lackluster film for its lame, confusing plot. It has nothing on Jackie's finest films, particularly the outstanding Drunken Master 2 and Shanghai Noon, his best since coming to Hollywood. Primarily for fans, The Accidental Spy is only worth watching for its eternally entertaining star.
The wide-screen anamorphic transfer looks clean and crisp, if a little dull in the color department.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 English mix is effective and clear. The film is dubbed and no Chinese track is provided, but being that this film was made for an international audience, there's no real original language anyway. Some actors seem to have been speaking Chinese, others English. Everything is dubbed fairly well. Jackie, as always, does his own inimitable (and occasionally incomprehensible) dubbing. A French track is also included.
Only a smattering of unrelated trailers. For the price, this is one weak disc.
Not a particularly memorable film, The Accidental Spy trades on its one major asset: Jackie Chan, who can make films far worse than this watchable.
Other Jackie Chan reviews:
Jackie Chan: My Stunts
Drunken Master 2
Email Gil Jawetz at firstname.lastname@example.org