Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Jackie Chan in the 1980s - Cannonball Run II

Cannonball Run II abandons any pretence of racing to concentrate on cramming the screen with as many ageing, liver-spotted stars as possible. Hal Needham's sequel operates somewhere between a Sands Hotel love-in and a Hanna-Barbera pile-up. Everything's off the boil. Burt Reynolds has the familiar, sunburnt bloat of a man clinging desperately to his prime. Reynold's facial hair may look lacquered on, but at least he doesn't spend the majority of his sequel screentime slapping around poor Dom DeLuise. If anything, Reynolds seems grateful to be there.

Jackie Chan returns as, you guessed it, Jackie, this time acting as Richard Kiel's co-pilot in a gadget laden Mitsubishi Starion. Chan is given a little more to do this time and responds with gusto. Whenever the actor's on screen he's moving - whether that be athletic martial arts or just screwing his face up incredulously. Tellingly, Reynolds takes a moment to entangle Chan in a down-with-the-kids handshake, pointedly short-handing an interpersonal relationship we've never seen on-screen. Chan even gets a fleeting love interest although, obviously, she's Asian too.

In spite of a pairing that reads like a mean-spirited comment on their respective heights, Kiel and Chan have a surprising amount of chemistry in their short scenes together. The pair are usually seen cackling at the idiots around them, obviously enjoying each other's company. Interestingly, Kiel's imposing strongman character is named Arnold in the credits. Given that Needham bossed Schwarzenegger around on 1979's The Villain perhaps there's a universe out there with Jackie driving around in hysterics with the Austrian Oak?

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