Project A (film)
Project A (Chinese: A計劃; Jyutping: A Gai3 Waak6; also known as Pirate Patrol and Jackie Chan's Project A; released in the Philippines as Superfly 2) is a 1983 Hong Kong martial arts action-comedy film starring and directed by Jackie Chan, written by Chan and Edward Tang, and produced by Tang, Leonard Ho and Raymond Chow. The film co-stars Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao, and was released on December 22, 1983.
|Cantonese||"A" Gai3 Waak6|
|Directed by||Jackie Chan|
Sammo Hung (action)
|Produced by||Raymond Chow|
|Written by||Jackie Chan|
Lee Hoi San
|Music by||Michael Lai|
|Cinematography||Cheung Yiu Tsou|
|Edited by||Peter Cheung|
|Distributed by||Golden Harvest|
Media Asia Group
Dimension Films (U.S.)
Fortune Star Media Limited (current)
Paramount Pictures (Miramax Films) (current U.S. distribution)
|Box office||US$17 million (est.)|
Set in the 19th century in old Hong Kong, Project A blends martial arts with comedy moments and spectacular stunts. One stunt in particular involved Chan hanging and falling from the hand of a clock tower some 60 ft (18 m) high, tearing through awning canopies before hitting the ground.
The film was a box office success in East Asia. At the 4th Hong Kong Film Awards, Chan received two nominations for the film (and another for Wheels on Meals), including his first Best Actor nomination, and won his first Best Action Choreography award. A sequel, Project A Part II, was released in 1987.
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Sergeant Dragon Ma (Jackie Chan) is part of the Hong Kong Marine Police's effort to suppress the pirates, who have been raiding ships for months. Members of the Hong Kong Police Force and the MP, who have strong interservice rivalries, get into a fight in a bar. Shortly after this, Captain Chi (Kwan Hoi-san) releases all of the sailors to their commanding officer, and two of the MP's ships get blown up.
Gangsters Chiang and Mr. Chou meet at a VIP Club, and discuss fleeing to Vietnam. As soon as Chiang leaves, he meets one of the pirates and they laugh about sabotaging the Marine Police ships. In the course of the conversation, the pirate tells him that his boss, San-po (Dick Wei), wants 100 police rifles.
As they do not have enough ships, Dragon Ma and his squad are forced to become regular police officers. They have to undergo "hard training" with the police, under Captain Chi's nephew, Hong Tin-tsu (Yuen Biao). After the police learn that Chiang is at the VIP Club, and that the guests there are not to be disturbed, Dragon and Tin-tsu go to arrest Chiang, but a big fight breaks out. After tiring of the blatant corruption in the police force, Dragon drags Chiang out and tells Tin-tsu to take the credit. That is his last official act as an officer with the Hong Kong police.
Fei (Sammo Hung) finds Dragon in the street. They have a conversation, in which Fei reveals that someone from within the police force is selling rifles. Fei tells Dragon that all he wants are the guns, and Dragon can catch the traitor. At night, Dragon and Fei interrupt a gun deal between the Army and the police Captain. After pushing everyone into the water and making off with the guns, Fei hides the rifles inside a log and marks it with a red flag. He later tries to sell the guns to the gangsters and pirates, but Dragon has intervened by removing the red flag and putting flags on other logs.
After thwarting Fei's plan to sell the rifles to the pirates, Dragon has a conversation with the Admiral's daughter, Winnie. He learns that the Captain wasn't smuggling rifles for San-po, he was buying the rifles from the army to arm his men. On overhearing this, Fei gets into an argument with Dragon. The gangsters come after Fei, so he tells them that Dragon is to blame for the missing rifles. Dragon is forced to flee with Winnie. After teaming up with Fei, being tortured for information about the rifles, and falling from the face of a clock tower, the police track Dragon down for a third time, and help him get away as they arrest the gangsters.
As the pirates have lost the rifles they held everyone on board a ship hostage, including a Rear Admiral. The Colonel has a conversation with Mr. Chou, which Dragon overhears. Mr. Chou proposes an arms-for-hostages deal. He tells the Colonel that this will "greatly expedite matters," and the Colonel consents. After Mr. Chou leaves, Dragon confronts the Colonel and convinces him that the gangsters and the pirates will never fear the law if the police force are corrupt. After it is agreed that Dragon will assume all responsibility for the mission to save the hostages, the Colonel allows the Marine Police to be brought back into full force.
Mr. Chou is brought in by the police and beaten until he tells Dragon and Tin-tsu how to get to San-po. Dragon, posing as Mr. Chou, gets on board a ship that takes him to San-po's hideout, and they are followed by the rest of the squad. Fei sneaks aboard and poses as a pirate. After a lot of tricky undercover work, the cavalry arrives, and there is a final confrontation in the middle of the pirate's lair. Dragon, Tin-tsu, and Fei engage in a hand-to-hand battle with San-po, eventually killing him with a hand grenade when he's rolled into the carpet.
- Jackie Chan - Sergeant Dragon Ma Yue Lung (doubled by Mars)
- Sammo Hung - Zhuo Yifei aka Fei / Fats
- Yuen Biao - Inspector Hong Tin-Tzu (Captain Chi's Nephew)
- Kwan Hoi-san - Captain Chi
- Dick Wei - Pirate Chief Lor Sam Pau / San-Po
- Hoi Sang Lee - Mr. Lee Cho-Kou
- Mars - Big Mouth / Jaws
- Isabella Wong (Wong Man-Ying / Winnie Wong) - Winnie Shih
- Tai Bo - Tai Bo
- Lau Hak-suen - Admiral Shih
- Wong Wai - Chou Wing Ling
- Hon Yee-sang - Chiang
- Ng Min-kan - Pirate
- Kwan Yung-moon - Pirate
- Chan Chi-fai - Pirate / Policeman
- Law Ho-kai - Club Manager
- Cheung Ng-long - Assistant At Club
- Wan Faat - Assistant At Club
- Wu Ma - Mahjong player
- Lai Keung-kuen - Coast Guard
- Danny Chow - Ling's thug
- Johnny Cheung - Ling's thug
- Lola Forner - British Admiral's Daughter
- Chris Li - Pirate
- Sam Wong - Pirate
- To Wai-wo as Policeman
- Chin Kar-lok - Police Coast Employee (extra)
- Steve Mak (extra)
- Frankie Poon (extra)
- A. Chau (extra)
- Rocky Lai
- Nicky Li
In the 1980s, Chan chose vague, generic film titles such as Project A and Police Story so as not to give the plots of the films away prior to their release. It was felt that the titles of previous Chan films such as Snake in the Eagle's Shadow and Drunken Master gave too much away about the kung fu style they featured (Snake Style and Drunken Fist respectively). Project A was originally going to be titled Pirate Patrol, but it was feared that once announced, other Hong Kong film producers would rush to copy and release films featuring pirates.
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On the audio commentary of the Hong Kong Legends (Region 2) DVD, Bey Logan reveals that Chan's last period film, Dragon Lord (1982), had under-performed at the Hong Kong box office in comparison to the previous one, The Young Master (1980). Logan identifies that a possible reason for the poor performance was the comparative lack of action. Edward Tang and the production team felt that a period film could still have success if it had sufficient action, and so researched the history of Hong Kong during the time of pirates for Project A.
Unlike other Hollywood period films that are set on an exact time and place, many Hong Kong films play fast and loose with their period in history. A prominent example by Bey Logan is set like this: the Hong Kong Marine Police is set up in 1846 by the British Colonial Government. The Hong Kong Headquarters is set up in 1884. The Kowloon Canton Railway Clock tower is set up in 1915. So in other words, this film takes place between the 19th and early 20th century. Jackie and the Golden Harvest team employ some researchers to come up with background for this story about pirates in Hong Kong and are not really concerned at all about depicting the film in the exact era. Bey Logan coined regarding historical heroes and stories like Wong Fei Hong: if you choose between the truth and the legend, you print the legend because if you pick the truth, you won't have for example, having items, vehicles and certain historical figures if you are shooting it in a time where certain things would or would not have existed, unless it's made as a documentary.
Project A marks the first time that veteran Michael Lai used orchestral music for a film score, instead of using library music or lifting the score from other films.
In rehearsal for the clock tower fall, Chan took a week to build the courage to drop from such a great height. During the shooting of the bicycle chase sequence, one of the stuntmen informed Chan that E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was playing at the local cinema. Chan halted filming to watch the bicycle chase scene in the finale of E.T., to ensure that his scene and Steven Spielberg's scene were not the same. After watching the film, Chan became more confident, realizing that the audience doesn't really care so much about such minor details, only in watching the film and having a good time. According to his book I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action, Chan injured his neck while filming the scene.
After appearing in The Cannonball Run (1981), Chan liked the idea of including bloopers over the closing credits. Beginning with Dragon Lord, he has included (and directed) outtakes over the end credits for most of his films, including Project A, and they have become something of a Chan trademark. Due to the nature of his films, Chan's outtakes are a combination of comedic moments and injuries sustained whilst he and his team perform stunts and fight sequences. These outtakes were enjoyed particularly by audiences in Japan—so much so that Japanese film companies would demand the inclusion of "NGs" ("no good" shots) in the distribution contracts for all Jackie Chan films, regardless of director.
While some of Chan's comedy stunt work in Project A has similarities to the comedy stunt work of Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd, Chan had not seen their films at the time, as they were not available on home video. According to Chan, Project A was an evolution of the action stunt work he had already been doing in earlier kung fu comedy films since The Young Master (1980). He only became aware of Keaton later from Western critics who watched Project A and drew comparisons, after which Chan watched Keaton's films when they eventually became available on home video and realized how similar Keaton is to himself.
Project A was released in Hong Kong on 22 December 1983. In the Philippines, the film was originally released as Mark of the Dragon, but First Films later rereleased it as Superfly 2 on 17 September 1992, connecting it to the unrelated film Armour of God II: Operation Condor (released as Superfly).
Project A (along with Dragon Lord) marked Chan's return to Asian cinema after his first attempt to break into the Hollywood market with a small role in The Cannonball Run and a starring role in the commercially disappointing Battle Creek Brawl. In contrast, Project A was a huge success at the Hong Kong box office, earning HK$19,323,824 (US$2,659,852).
It was also very well received abroad, and particularly throughout East Asia. Reportedly, in Japan, Emperor Showa's fondness of the film and eagerness to see a sequel led Chan to make Project A Part II. At the Japan box office, Project A grossed ¥2.95 billion (US$12.42 million), becoming one of the top three highest-grossing foreign films of 1984 (along with another Jackie Chan starrer Cannonball Run II) and the year's sixth highest-grossing film overall.
In Taiwan, it was one of the top five highest-grossing films of 1984, with NT$24,170,723 (US$611,777). In South Korea, it was the highest-grossing film of 1984, with 396,436 ticket sales, grossing an estimated ₩1,189,308,000 (US$1,475,612). Combined, the film's total box office gross in East Asia was an estimated US$17,167,241, equivalent to US$50 million adjusted for inflation in 2018.
- 1985 Hong Kong Film Awards
- Won: Best Action Choreography
- Nominated: Best Actor (Jackie Chan)
- Project A, Audio commentary (Bey Logan), Project A: A Classic Revisited, Disc 2 (DVD). UK: Hong Kong Legends.
- Chan, Jackie. "Jackie's Aches and Pains: It Only Hurts When I'm Not Laughing". Random House. Archived from the original on 18 February 2010. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
- Havis, Richard James (14 June 2020). "Jackie Chan on Project A, the martial arts film that set a creative template for his decades of show business success". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 30 December 2020. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
Critics often compare your work in Project A to that of silent film stars like Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. I’m guessing you had not actually seen the work of those stars when you made Project A.
Yes, that’s right. I didn’t actually see films by Buster Keaton until later – there were no videos back then. What happened was Western critics would always say that I was like Buster Keaton, and I noticed they seemed to like it if I agreed and said he influenced me. So I said he had. But really, I had worked out that for myself. I was actually already doing these kind of things in The Young Master. Then one day, new technology comes out – the video – and I had a chance to look at Buster Keaton films. I thought, Wow I really do seem to be like this guy!
- "'High Adventure' Starts Today". Manila Standard. Kamahalan Publishing Corp. 17 September 1992. p. 23. Retrieved 17 November 2020 – via Google News Archive.
Starring Samo Hung • Yuen Biao • Mars • Dick Wei • Isabella Wong...
- "Project A". hkmdb.com. Hong Kong Movie Database. Retrieved 11 February 2009.
- "Official exchange rate (LCU per US$, period average)". World Bank. 1983. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
- "【ジャッキーチェン興行成績】 第12回：日本での興行収入" [[Jackie Chan box office results] 12th: Box office revenue in Japan]. KungFu Tube (in Japanese). Retrieved 21 November 2018.
- "Official exchange rate (LCU per US$, period average) - Japan". worldbank.org. World Bank. 1984. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
- "1984年（1月～12月）". Eiren.org. Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
- "1984 Taiwan Box Office". National Chengchi University. 19 February 2001. Archived from the original on 19 February 2001. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
- "Historical exchange rates (TWD)". fxtop.com. December 1984. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
- "【ジャッキーチェン興行成績】 第10回：韓国での興行収入" [[Jackie Chan box office results] 10th: Box office revenue in South Korea]. KungFu Tube (in Japanese). 5 September 2010. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
- "KOFIC 영화관 입장권 통합전산망" [KOFIC Cinema Ticket Integrated Computer Network]. kobis.or.kr (in Korean). Korean Film Council. September 2018. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
- Park, Seung Hyun (2000). A Cultural Interpretation of Korean Cinema, 1988-1997. Indiana University. p. 119.
Average Ticket Prices in Korea, 1974-1997 [...] * Source: Korea Cinema Yearbook (1997-1998) * Currency: won [...] Foreign [...] 1984 [...] 3,000
- "Official exchange rate (KRW per US$, period average)". worldbank.org. World Bank. 1984. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
- "Adjusting for Movie Ticket Price Inflation". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
- Thomas, Kevin (21 March 1994). "Chan Combines Slapstick, Martial Arts in 'Project A'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 28 August 2010.
- Project A at Rotten Tomatoes