Import Corner: Armour of God II: Operation Condor (88 Films) Blu-ray Review


Fans have waited a long time for ARMOUR OF GOD II: OPERATION CONDOR to hit blu-ray in it's proper aspect ratio and in HD and 88 Films as come through. This blu-ray was a long time coming and is worth the price.


Studio: 88 Films
Release Date: February 7th, 1991 (theatrical) / June 15th, 2020 (blu-ray)
Run Time: 107 mins (theatrical) / 117 mins (extended)
Region Code: B (locked)
Picture: 1080p (2.35:1 aspect ratio) (both versions)
Sound: Cantonese LPCM mono, English LPCM 2.0 (theatrical) / Cantonese LCPM 2.0 (both versions)
Subtitles: English
Slipcover: Yes (first pressing)
Digital Copy: No
Starring: Jackie Chan, Carol Cheng, Eva Cobo, Shôko Ikeda, and Aldo Sambrell
Written by Jackie Chan and Edward Tang
Directed by Jackie Chan
Rating: BBFC: 15 (martial arts violence and some rude humor) (theatrical) / BBFC: 15 (martial arts violence, rude humor, and some nudity) (extended)

THE FILM



Jackie is a talented special agent who is used for dangerous undercover work. The government employs him to try and find some gold that the Nazis allegedly left in Northern Africa 40 years ago. He soon discovers that he is not the only one searching for the gold; there are people willing to kill to get their hands on it.

The 90s were a glorious time to be a Jackie Chan fan. At least in the States, it was. After RUMBLE IN THE BRONX hit theaters, and did very well at the box office, many of his older films, as well as his newest films, were being picked up for release in the States.

New Line Cinema picked up POLICE STORY 1 and 2 as well as THUNDERBOLT, which they released straight to Video, along with Chan's newest films like FIRST STRIKE and MR. NICE GUY this time for theatrical release. Miramax went on a buying spree, picking TWIN DRAGONS, POLICE STORY 3: SUPERCOP, and DRUNKEN MASTER 2, for theatrical release, along with ARMOUR OF GOD, PROJECT A 1 and 2, DRAGON LORD, CRIME STORY, and THE ACCIDENTAL SPY, all straight to video. They also picked up the film I am reviewing today: ARMOUR OF GOD II: OPERATION CONDOR.

So, on July 18th, 1997, and friend and I went to theater, bought our snacks and sat down to watch OPERATION CONDOR. During this screening, a thunderstorm had rolled in and caused a power outage. This, however, was no normal power outage, as the only power that went out was the light on the projector. We had no picture, but we had sound, so we could hear everything that was happening, but couldn’t see it. This was at a time when projectors had to be manned. Projectionists were a real thing and they had to be called to the theater to fix the picture. Thankfully, we only missed the scene at the hotel when the white girl gets the machine gun from the hotel owner. Still, it was interesting to be sitting in a darkened theater, hearing the film.

This was my first time seeing OPERATION CONDOR and it would a while before I saw the original Hong Kong cut of the film. After watching this version of the film, I was struck with a curious thought: I thought that the Hong Kong cut was a bit too long with scenes that run way too long along with scenes that we really didn’t need. We didn’t need the scene where Chan gets the fax telling him to go to Spain. This scene is missing from the American cut of the film and the film is better for it. Sure, the scene gives Chan a reason to go to Spain, but I always thought that he was going there to get his assignment anyway, so cutting the fax scene was the right choice. There are more cuts like this that quicken the pace of the film and allow the jokes to come around more quickly.

This does not mean that everything cut was right for the film. The introduction of the two of three female leads is cut from the American cut. I have no idea why, other than to get the run time to under 90 mins, but it feels strange that the introduction to half of the main cast is gone. The wind tunnel scene is another victim of Harvey Scissorhands. This scene, which I consider one of the best comedic scenes that Jackie Chan has ever done, is cut in half. Many of the more comedic moments are gone.

I know that I have talked at great length about a version of OPERATION CONDOR that isn’t even on this disc, but the American cut of the film was my first time with the film, so I felt that I needed to talk about it.

So, what do I think of the film? I really like it. I love the action scenes especially the fight scenes in the bunker. Chan is clearly trying to one up himself in almost everyway and it works here. Some of the stuff on display here is mind-blowing. How Chan and his team are able to do some of the stuff they do in this film makes me wonder why there are not more humans on this Earth that can do this stuff. The comedy on also on point. At times the film feels like it is a modern version of the Three Stooges or the Marx Brothers. Needless to say, but this film is hilarious. Not everything works, though. Like I said before, the pacing and run time are problematic with some comedic bits going on for far too long.

I really like ARMOUR OF GOD II: OPERATION CONDOR. It’s top ten Jackie Chan, but it is still a really entertaining film. The fight scenes are just amazing and the comedy hits more than it misses. This is probably the biggest film that Chan ever made himself and it is worth checking out.

This blu-ray includes the film's original theatrical version as well as a never before seen extended version. The American cut is not found on this disc, but would have been a worthwhile inclusion even if for completion sakes.

THE PICTURE AND THE SOUND




Sourced from a brand new 2K restoration, and presented in the film’s original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, ARMOUR OF GOD II: OPERATION CONDOR looks really good. I wasn’t blown away with this transfer as I was with 88 Films previous releases like DRAGONS FOREVER, HEART OF DRAGON, or MIRACLES as I had not seen those films in the theater. Say what you will about what Miramax did to the film, but the print they used was really good. This is not to say that this transfer is bad. It is really beautiful. Everything looks wonderful. Detail is high especially is close-ups which is usually the case. Skin tones are accurate and colors pop. 88 Films did a really good job here.

We get three language tracks here: the original Cantonese, a stereo track that was created for the film’s home video release, and the original English dub. Since the American cut isn’t included here, the track used for that version isn’t here. This means that we don’t hear Chan’s voice on any of the tracks, as was the custom in Hong Kong. All three tracks sound great with the stereo track sounding a little robust.

THE PACKAGING




THE MENUS




THE FEATURES


Audio Commentary with Mike Leeder and Arne Venema. This track, like all of their previous tracks for 88 Films, is really great. They provide a wealth on knowledge about the film, its actors, its locations, and its fight choreography. This commentary is available on the theatrical version only.


Interview with Bruce Fontaine (20m 1s, HD) Fontaine, who played one of Adolph’s mercenaries in the film, talks about his time not only on the film, but also in Hong Kong.



Re-Edited 2K Trailer (3m 57s, HD, 2.35:1) This is essentially the Original Trailer but without the behind the scenes footage and in the film’s original aspect ratio.

Also included is a 52-page booklet featuring an article about the ARMOUR OF GOD series, and interview with stunt man Vincent Lyn, a poster and lobbycard gallery, and behind the scenes photos.

THE WRAP UP




ARMOUR OF GOD II: OPERATION CONDOR is a really fun flick that shows off Chan’s action skills as well as his comedic skills all the while letting others have a bit of the spotlight. The blu-ray, from 88 Films, is another fine addition to their ever-growing line of Jackie Chan films with great picture and sound. This is a must-own for Chan fans as well as those who want to get into Chan, but don’t know where to start.

THE SCREENSHOTS



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