Originally titled ARMOUR OF GOD, Jackie Chan's expensive, thrill-ride version of the INDIANA JONES series was so popular in Asia that it led to a tenuously related sequel, OPERATION CONDOR. After the latter saw release in America, the earlier film underwent a title change to make it
appear to be the sequel, and went straight to US video in 1998 as OPERATION CONDOR: THE ARMOUR OF GOD (with an entirely different title on the video box art, OPERATION CONDOR 2: THE ARMOUR OF THE GODS!).
Stealing an ancient sword from an African tribe, adventurer Jackie (Jackie Chan), known as the Asian Hawk, uses martial arts and grand stuntwork to effect his escape. After auctioning the sword, he is approached by his old friend, pop-singer Alan (Alan Tam), to help rescue Alan's girlfriend Laura
(Rosamund Kwan), the girl that came between them when they all played in a band together. Demanded as ransom is the legendary Armour of God, of which the sword is part. Borrowing the Armour from a wealthy Count--on condition that they take his daughter May (Lola Forner) along on the
adventure--they tangle with the kidnappers, a group of monks who live in a mountain monastery. Sneaking inside the stronghold, they easily rescue Laura, unaware that she has been drugged and programmed to retrieve the Armour.
And so she does, bringing a drugged Alan with her. Jackie breaks back into the monastery and rescues them both, along the way fighting battalions of monks and a group of wickedly acrobatic leather-clad women. In the end, he rather inadvertently dynamites the monastery, escaping by diving off the
mountain onto a hot-air balloon piloted by Alan, Laura, and May.
In 1982, Eric Tsang had directed pop singer Sam Hui in the first of the immensely popular ACES GO PLACES films--a globe-hopping, stunt-filled, action comedy series featuring a suave, international rogue/jewel thief and his inept comic rival. For ARMOUR OF GOD, Tsang was enlisted as director and
traveled to Yugoslavia along with numerous of Hong Kong's filmmaking elite. Shooting stopped when on the second take of a minor stunt, Chan fell from a tree and cracked open his skull, necessitating emergency surgery. (The accident and its aftermath are shown under the closing credits.) When
filmmaking resumed, Chan was director.
Playing a pop singer was hardly a stretch for Alan Tam, who is one in real life; several of his songs (one a duet with Chan) and footage from an actual concert are interpolated into the film. With filming taking place in France and Austria, they naturally turned to Lola Forner, who had previously
appeared with Chan in WHEELS ON MEALS (1983) and was, according to Chan, "the only European actress we knew." Her character disappears completely about two-thirds of the way through, when the serious fighting is about to start. Not long after, with Jackie entering the fortress for the second time,
the film hits escape velocity, moving straight from one phenomenal set piece to another, with no room between to catch your breath. The opening scene, recognizable as Eric Tsang's original footage by Chan's uncommonly short haircut, is another gem of wild, sustained action. (Violence, nudity.) leave a comment