It was time to introduce our children to the world of Jackie Chan. (It was probably past time, actually. But one earlier attempt foundered on the rocks of intimate human relations a few minutes in.)
Limited by both our lack of knowledge and the truncated range available at the local Video Ezy, we have thus far run through an unrepresentative, possibly entirely misguided selection. But at least he is now known in our house as more than just one of the voices in the "Kung Fu Panda" films. And that is an important component of a boy's education.
What have we seen so far?
"Drunkenmaster II". This is comedy martial arts genius. The pure Hong Kong films seem to be more insane than those involving Hollywood: presumably because the "Jackie Chan does his own stunts" ethos doesn't get strapped into an OH&S straightjacket.
"Shanghai Noon". At the opposite end of the spectrum from "Drunkenmaster II": this film is an utter, utter crock, and highly unworthy of Jackie Chan's talent. Also, it pales in comparison Gore Verbinski's "The Lone Ranger" (or even "Rango"). Avoid. What? There's a sequel?? I would rather eat my shoe.
"Rumble In The Bronx". From memory, this was Jackie's first East Meets West venture. It struggles to find its feet for a while, and is heavy on the violence (and reeks of the 1980s: the whole thing could almost be an extended cut of Michael Jackson's "Beat It" video, which is kind of weird seeing it was made in 1995), but is worth sitting through for the unbroken madness of the final 20 minutes. Italian Sports Car vs Hovercraft: what's not to like?
"Rush Hour". In its own way a sequel to "Shanghai Noon" (even referencing the "John Wayne / Chon Wang" gag from that movie) but this time they got the balance right between the comedy and the martial arts.
"Rush Hour 2". More of the same only slightly less so. But the team-up of Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker is a good one. I don't think I would want to sit through the third one, though.
There are two or three more actual Hong Kong Jackie Chan movies (including "First Strike") that we can borrow, but if anyone has some recommendations the email address is over there on the right.