Echo Bridge Home Entertainment // 2001 // 88 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart // November 2nd, 2011
"You're a natural, if only you could just learn to take a fall."
Fitness equipment salesman Buck Yuen (Jackie Chan, Shanghai Noon) becomes a hero, after foiling a bank job. Soon, a private eye turns up, sending him to Seoul to meet the father he never knew he had. Dad, an ex-spy, dies and leaves Buck a box with a cross and a key inside. From there, it's off to Istanbul to bust a drug lord.
Don't expect too much in the way of logic from The Accidental Spy. Chan's character is just a salesman, but he's adept both at physicality in foiling a bank heist and outdriving bad guys in a car chase. This is, of course, highly unlikely, as are many plot twists to follow.
The plot really doesn't matter, though, since it's just the typical Jackie Chan movie excuse for stunts, starting with a fight with bank robbers in an elevator and escalating toward a final action sequence in which our hero rescues a family from a burning oil tanker. Chan has the unique talent to make the action seem natural, even when it's over the top; only one stunt -- an escape from ropes -- seemed too much like an improbable movie stunt.
The Accidental Spy also includes a sprinkling of Chan's trademark gags; my favorite was a scene in which Buck, riding in a cab with a fortune in cash, finds the car suddenly surrounded by a lot of cabs carrying a lot of would-be robbers. Chan makes a likable, goodhearted hero, even if his character could not exist anywhere except within a Jackie Chan movie.
The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and Dolby 5.1 Surround quality are decent, and the English dub isn't too glaring. Since this is the patented Echo Bridge catalog re-release, there is no original Mandarin language track or bonus features. Then again, the Miramax 2002 release didn't include the original language track either. IMDb states the Hong Kong release (Te we mi cheng) had a runtime of 108 minutes. While I suspect nothing essential was lost, it would have been nice to see both versions of the film.
Although relatively light on gags, The Accidental Spy is solid in the action department, though the sheer leap of logic absurdity will make you laugh more often than the actual jokes. While not essential, Chan fans who haven't seen this one will want a look.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (CC)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13