The latest from Jackie Chan and Benny Chan and their first collaboration since New Police Story, Robin-B-Hood (which is actually the American title, in China it was called Rob-B-Hood - as to why it was changed, who knows, as there's nothing even remotely Robin Hood-ish about this movie) is weird mix of the martial arts films that Jackie is world renowned for and.... Three Men And A Baby? Yep. Three Men And A Baby.
The movie follows two criminals, Thongs (Jackie Chan) and his pal Octopus (Louis Koo). Thongs' vice is gambling, while Octopus has a thing for the ladies, and despite the fact that he's married to the adorable Pak Yin (Charlene Choi) he just can't seem to keep it in his pants. These two rascals work for a boss known only as Landlord (Michael Hui), a tougher and smarter crook than his two employees, who spend all of their loot like it's going out of style.
When Landlord himself becomes the victim of a crime and is basically completely cleaned out, he agrees to take a job that will require him and his two employees to kidnap a baby. Why? So they can hand the kid off to a rich old man who is fairly certain that the baby is his grandson. Unfortunately, his son (and the baby's possible father) is dead and while the body is frozen for posterity's sake, the only way to know for sure is to do some testing. When Thongs and Octopus screw up the kidnapping, they're all of a sudden playing surrogate fathers to the infant until they can get him to the old man and get collect their paycheck, all while trying to avoid Inspector Mok (Yuen Biao). Hilarity ensues and there are poop jokes aplenty.
Ripe with baby farts and puke, Pepsi product placement and really bad comedy, Robin-B-Hood isn't a total waste of time thanks to Jackie Chan's natural penchant for comedy and his likeability factor. It's hard to not appreciate Jackie Chan. Even when playing a criminal as he does here, his 'nice guy' persona can't help but bubble up throughout the movie. This is far from Chan's greatest role, but it's not his worst either and it fits comfortably somewhere towards the bottom of the middle of his filmography. Yuen Biao and Michael Hui are both good in their parts but neither man gets enough screen time to really help things all that much so it's up to Chan and Koo to carry the film. At times they can pull it off, at times they can't and the picture is pretty uneven.
When the movie kicks into action mode it can be pretty impressive. Chan does use wires here and there in this picture - he is getting older after all - but he's still got that amazing ability to make even the most ridiculous stunt seem easy and natural. The stunts here aren't on par with his better pictures but there are some good sequences here that do help the picture. It's a shame then that the comedy is so reliant on baby poop. While it can be funny to see someone have to deal with baby poop, the humor here seems to rely very heavily on that and it gets a bit old after a while. On top of that, the picture does slow down in spots and suffers from periodic pacing problems. It's not a terrible movie, nor is it a classic, but it has enough 'Chan Moments' that his fan base will want to give it a look, so long as their expectations are kept in check.
Robin-B-Hood is presented in a good looking 2.35.1 widescreen 1080p high definition transfer that shows good detail throughout. Colors are nice and strong (though periodically digitally tweaked from the looks of things) and black levels, if not consistently reference quality, usually look pretty good despite periodic instances of wavering shadow detail. Skin tones look lifelike and natural and there are no problems with overzealous edge enhancement or noise reduction. Compression artifacts aren't a problem and there isn't much in the way of print damage, dirt or debris to note. Some natural and welcome grain is noticeable throughout the film, but that's not a bad thing. All in all, the movie looks pretty good here and it offers considerably more impressive detail than the standard definition DVD could provide.
Check out the movie with your choice of a Cantonese DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track or a standard definition English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix with optional subtitles offered in English and Spanish. The Cantonese track is preferable as it fits the mouth movements of the actors and has a stronger, more natural sound to it. There's a lot of good surround activity here and the levels are well balanced across the board. Bass response is pretty decent as well, and the score is spread about the surround set up nicely. The English track sounds okay for what it is but it's considerably more flat than the lossless Cantonese track is. If you have an aversion to subtitles, it's a fine option, but otherwise, stick with the DTS-HD mix.
First up is a commentary track with director Benny Chan, which is in Chinese with English subtitles. Chan's a pretty good natured guy and he's easy to listen to here as he talks at length about working on this picture. He spends a good bit of time covering the action scenes but also discusses casting, stunts, and the film's comedy.
From there, check out the forty minute interview with Jackie Chan himself. Chan is in good spirits here, talking about how he wanted to change the types of roles that he had become known for playing by taking on a few different characters and by returning to his roots in the sense that he wanted to work more with his fellow Peking Opera students, Sammo Hung and Yuen Wah. He also talks about some of his experiences working on American films and some of the differences between his American work and his Chinese work.
Benny Chan is up next for a sixteen minute interview. Here the director talks about some of the films he's made with Jackie over the years and how they've changed as actors and directors. Conroy Chan also gets an interview, a fourteen minute segment where he talks about his role in the film and some of the other projects he's involved in.
Two featurettes are included on the second disc, the first of which is the twenty-two minute Playtime For Adults and which gives us some decent talking head interview clips with the cast and crew members as well as some behind the scenes footage. The second featurette is Robin-B-Hood: An Original Making Of, which is another twenty-two minutes that basically covers much of the same ground as the other feature, with maybe less emphasis put on the action and more emphasis put on the storyline. Rounding out the extras are the film's U.S. theatrical trailer, animated menus and chapter stops. All of the extras on this disc are in standard definition.
A moderately entertaining action-comedy, Robin-B-Hood definitely has its moments even if they're sometimes few and far between and Dragon Dynasty's Blu-ray release is a good one, offering up a decent transfer, strong audio, and a good selection of extras. Not a classic by any stretch, but a fun time killer. Recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.