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Mr. Nice Guy
Mr. Nice Guy, directed by the mighty Sammo Hung and released in 1997, stars Jackie Chan as… Jackie! He's co-hosts a cooking show in Australia with an older man named Baggio (Barry Otto) and lives a pretty swell life. All of this changes when, by chance, he's out shopping and stops to defend a woman named Diana (Gabrielle Fitzpatrick) who is under attack by some thugs. A fight ensues and the two escape, Diana leaving a tape in Jackie's car. Diana, see, is a journalist and she and her partner just did some covert surveillance of a crime lord named Giancarlo (Richard Norton) doing his crime lord thing.
Later that same day, Jackie heads to Baggio's place to cook dinner for his friend, Baggio's cop son Romeo (Vince Poletto) and their personal assistant Lakisha (Karen McLymont). He leaves Diana's tape with them when he splits, assuming it's the latest episode of their cooking show. From here, Diana tracks Jackie down to get the tape back, and they all wind up involved in a war against Giancarlo and his crew, eventually bringing Jackie's poor girlfriend Miki (Miki Lee) into the fray. As things heat up, Jackie loses faith in the cops and with Miki's life on the line, takes it upon himself to fight his way to Giancarlo himself and sort this out, once and for all. While this is going on, a rival gang called The Demons, who have a bone to pick with Giancarlo, start moving in.
Featuring a fantastic comedic cameo from Sammo himself, Mr. Nice Guy is a very entertaining blend of comedy and action, the kind that Chan made a name for himself with during the eighties and nineties (and then eventually shifting over to mainstream Hollywood pictures like the Rush Hour films). With Chan speaking almost completely in English throughout the film, something the actor himself has admitted more than once makes him nervous, you'd think there might be some gags lost but nope, the bulk of the humor works very well and there are some truly ‘laugh out loud' moments in here. Of course, there's also some really strong action set pieces and jaw-dropped stunt work as well, again, the clear highlight of what has made Chan one of the biggest film starts in the history of the medium.
Jackie, as Jackie, is just extremely likeable here. Yeah, he doesn't always make the most logical decision, but he's very amiable and Chan's knack for comedic timing is put to good use in the picture. The lovely Gabrielle Fitzpatrick handles herself well in a couple of action scenes as well, bringing an interesting dynamic to the film, while Karen McLymont does ‘sassy' well enough and Miki Lee does a good job of getting into trouble, being rescued and looking cute (her part isn't very well written buts he does what she can with it). Barry Otto and Vince Poletto are decent enough in their supporting roles, while Richard Norton, who will be instantly recognizable to fans of B-action movies, does a great job chewing the scenery as the cigar chomping heavy in the film.
Note that the version of the film presented as the main attraction on this Blu-ray release is the extended original cut of the film, running just over ninety-seven-minutes.
Mr. Nice Guy comes to Blu-ray courtesy of Warner Archive in a very nice looking 2.40.1 widescreen transfer presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition on a 50GB disc. The picture here is clean and minty-fresh, showing no noticeable print damage at all while retaining the expected amount of natural film grain. Colors looks nice, and this is a very colorful movie so that plays a big part in the ‘look' of the picture, while we get accurate looking skin tones and strong black levels throughout. There are a couple of shots here and there where focus is a bit soft, but those instances aside, detail is very good here and we get a lot of texture too. There are no noticeable problems with compression artifacts, edge enhancement of noise reduction and all in all, things look very good here.
The only audio option on the disc is an English language 24-bit DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track. No problems here at all, the dialogue is clean and clear and easy to follow. The score sounds good and the gun shots and explosions pack a pretty strong punch. The surround activity isn't quite as bombastic as a brand-new action movie would be, but it's solid enough with some fun pans and good rear channel activity. Subtitles are provided in English only. There are occasionally spots where Jackie and Miki speak in Chinese, subtitles automatically appear on screen during these sequences.
The main extra on the disc is the inclusion of the edited New Line Cinema version of the film. This is the same cut that came out on DVD years ago and it runs almost ten-minutes less than the feature attraction version. This cut is also presented in 2.40.1 widescreen and in 1080p high definition with English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. It's an interesting variant with scenes presented in a different order, a different score, some dialogue changes and other shorter edits (some made to some of the stronger scenes of violence depicted in the film). It isn't as good as the uncut version, but it's nice to have it here for the sake of posterity.
Aside from that, we get a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection.
Mr. Nice Guy offers up everything a good nineties-era Jackie Chan movie should: fun characters, a good sense of humor, plenty of impressive action set pieces and a whole lot of the man's always amazing stunt work. It might not be deep, but it sure is entertaining. Warner Archive's Blu-ray release looks and sounds very nice and while it isn't loaded with extras, it does include both the edited US version and the uncut international version of the film. 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.