Hong Kong theatrical poster
|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
Project A (Chinese: A計劃; Jyutping: A Gai3 Waak6; also known as Pirate Patrol and Jackie Chan's Project A) is a 1983 Hong Kong martial arts action comedy film written and directed by Jackie Chan, who also starred in the film. The film co-stars Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao. The film was released in Hong Kong on December 22, 1983.
Set in the 19th century in old Hong Kong, Project A blends comedy moments and spectacular stunts, including set-pieces reminiscent of Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. One stunt in particular involved Chan hanging and falling from the hand of a clock tower some 60 feet high, tearing through awning canopies before hitting the ground head-first. It was inspired by Lloyd's famous clock-tower stunt from the 1923 film Safety Last!.
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 a 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 riffles 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
- Lee Hoi-san - 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.
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 inspired by Safety Last!, 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 outtakes over the end credits for most of the films, including Project A, he has directed 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.
Project A 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 unsuccessful Battle Creek Brawl. In contrast, Project A was huge success at the Hong Kong box office, earning HKD$19,323,824 in Hong Kong. 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.
Awards and nominations
- 1985 Hong Kong Film Awards
- Won: Best Action Choreography
- Nominated: Best Actor (Jackie Chan)
The version distributed on video and DVD by Miramax in North America has a new opening credits sequence, a new score, and dubbed English dialogue.
- Jackie Chan filmography
- List of Hong Kong films
- List of Hong Kong films of 1983
- Sammo Hung filmography
- Yuen Biao filmography
- Project A, Audio commentary (Bey Logan), Project A: A Classic Revisited, Disc 2 (DVD). Hong Kong Legends, UK.
- Jackie Chan. "Jackie's Aches and Pains: It Only Hurts When I'm Not Laughing". Random House. Retrieved 2012-12-19.
- "Project A". Database entry. HKMDb. Retrieved 2009-02-11.
- Thomas, Kevin (1994-03-21). "Chan Combines Slapstick, Martial Arts in 'Project A'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-08-28.
- Project A at Rotten Tomatoes