One of the more entertaining Jackie Chan adventures that I've seen, "First Strike" offers some impressive stunts, good action and Chan's usual amazing martial arts skills are constantly on display. Playing a Hong Kong cop in this "Bond"-like feature, Chan plays an officer named(what else?) Jackie. Assigned to track down a criminal on a flight to the Ukraine, Jackie instead finds himself in the middle of plot by a gang to steal a neuclear warhead.
The movie eventually moves onto Australia, where Jackie has to further follow the criminals while performing more impressive stuntwork, some of which is in an aquarium. There's not really that much of a plot in "First Strike", but it does work well enough to string the movie along between the remarkable stunt sequences.
It's the conversations between the action sequences that feel tedious to sit through; they're so slow that it seems like an endless period before the next great stunt sequence. If Chan himself wasn't so charming and funny in these films, they definitely wouldn't be as easy to sit through. It's that combination of good humor and great stunts that makes "First Strike" a flawed, but entertaining way to spend an hour and a half.
VIDEO: Although it's watchable, this is not New Line's best work. The image is presented in the film's original 2.40:1 aspect ratio(there is also a pan&scan version included) and the picture varies in quality, but never quite lives up to the studio's high standards. Sharpness is generally very good, although the occasional sequences come through as being slightly soft in nature. Detail is good, but not great. Colors are fine; they have a natural look to them, and are occasionally somewhat vibrant. Flesh tones are accurate, as well. The picture occasionally looks a little bit on the dark side, but this is not a major distraction.
Aside from the occasional soft looking image, there are a couple of other problems that are worth mention. The picture sometimes looks slightly harsh; a bit of a more smooth, "film-like" image would have been appreciated. Some minor pixelation is apparent, but a very infrequent problem. There's no shimmering, and although the print used has some marks noticable, it doesn't distract from the movie. The picture quality in general is enjoyable, but not perfect.
SOUND: The audio for "First Strike" is a mixed effort, but definitely enjoyable when the intensity is turned up. The bigger action sequences offer intense and thrilling use of the surrounds for effects; other than that, the audio often folds up to simply being a dialogue-driven thriller. The music score occasionally sounds slightly thin, but the audio overall is a pleasing experience .
MENUS:: Pleasant and easily navigated menus that offer film-themed images, but no animation or other additional touches beyond the basic options. It's nice to have all of the options on the main menu.
EXTRAS:: The film's theatrical trailer in Dolby Digital 5.1.
Final Thoughts: The movie is an entertaining action film worth a look as a rental - New Line's DVD isn't quite up to their usual standards, but the movie is still worth a look.