Mr. Nice Guy
Jackie Chan finally gets defeated in Mr. Nice Guy. No, he doesn’t succumb to the villains, a crew of monosyllabic goons hunting for a videocassette that has accidentally fallen into the hands of Chan, cast here as a ”nice guy” celebrity TV cook in Melbourne, Australia. (Sound like an amusing idea? It’s sustained for about a minute and a half.)
What whips Chan is the movie itself, a kamikaze clinker that makes the odd mistake of showcasing its star in a repetitive series of routine hand-to-hand brawls, the majority of them set in cramped spaces like a kitchen or a van. Reduced to a mere windup doll of self-defense, Chan literally ends up going through the motions. He whacks and punches and gouges; he does the occasional flying scissor kick. But his genius for poetic slapstick devilry is barely on display.
Midway through, the audience gets a taste of what’s missing — a glimpse of the Bruce Lee-meets-Curly-meets-Baryshnikov madness that is Chan at his invigorating best. He’s trapped at a construction site, a wide-open space filled with tools, which Chan transforms into nutty action props, whamming one guy into a cement mixer, arching his own precious crotch mere inches over the top of a whirring power saw. Here, finally, is something you won’t see in a bad Steven Seagal movie. But Mr. Nice Guy quickly returns to soporific formula. In the climax, which might have come out of a monster-truck show, Chan darts between the giant tires of an extremely slow-moving bulldozer (sorry, but that looks like something I could do) and then scurries aboard, grabs the wheel, and proceeds to roll over every car in sight. What that bulldozer does to those cars, this movie does to Jackie Chan the whiplash dynamo.