Operation Condor (1997)
Operation Condor (1997)

Genre: Martial Arts and Action Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 20 min.

Release Date: July 18th, 1997 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Jackie Chan Actors: Jackie Chan, Carol Cheng, Eva Cobo de Garcia, Shoko Ikeda, Alfredo Brel Sanchez, Jonathan Isgar, Daniel Mintz

 


 

J

ackie, codenamed Condor (Jackie Chan), parasails into an Amazon jungle, then descends into a cavern, hunting for a monstrous jade relic. When he snatches it from its golem resting place, a tribe of ghostly native onlookers makes no objections. But when he helps himself to a bit of the trickling water, which turns out to be holy, he’s forced to make a hasty escape – into an inflatable ball that careens over the edge of a towering cliff. This opening sequence is quite obviously a spoof of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” though it’s insistence on humor dulls the adventure.

When Jackie returns to the U.S. Embassy in Spain, his superior, Duke (Bozidar Smiljanic), hands him a new mission: to uncover looted European gold (240 tons, to be exact), buried in a military base in Africa by a German officer. With the help of an attache to the United Nations, Ada (Carol Cheng), serving as his guide, he begins his search, starting with researching a mysterious key that is likely to set off booby traps when used. But before he can get very far at all, he’s twice attacked by armed thugs, then chased by a fleet of cars through tight alleyways in Spain.

Though Chan needs no sidekicks, as he provides his own comic relief through the lighthearted action, he’s nevertheless given three of them – and they’re all attractive young women. Along with Ada, he’s joined by the German officer’s granddaughter, Elsa (Eva Cobo de Garcia), who shares a series of innocently naked sequences that involves the accidental loss of clothing or the yanking away of a bath towel. And, lastly, there’s Momoko (Shoko Ikeda), a girl Jackie picks up randomly on a dusty road. With this unusual trio of ladies, a significant number of sexual jokes work their way into the script, all of which are very amusing. And with the standard sum of comedy, including kicks to the groin and slaps to the face, it’s easy to draw parallels to the Three Stooges.

“Operation Condor” also contains numerous nods to “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” including the blonde femme fatale (who shares the same name), the prompt ransacking of hotel rooms, desert locales, references to WWII and Nazis, a few badly deteriorated dead bodies, booby traps, and Muslim antagonists claiming to be “soldiers of the faith” who protect secrets at all costs. But overtaking the sense of tomb-raiding adventure (or the generic misadventures) is the kung fu, which features Chan’s slapstick-infused choreography (which manages not to incur any deaths, as if the lives of every nameless goon is valuable), as well as the creative use of props, fascinatingly unique playgrounds for fast-paced skirmishes (the wind tunnel set piece at the conclusion is one of the funniest), overacting and exaggerated expressions from his opponents, repeated shots of stunts from varying angles, and even the baby-stroller-in-a-crosswalk routine. With its reliable combination of humor and martial arts, “Operation Condor” is one of Jackie Chan’s most entertaining projects.

– Mike Massie

  • 7/10