Jackie Chan in "Mr. Nice Guy" (1997)

25 Years Later: Mr. Nice Guy 一個好人 (1997)

Twenty-five years ago today, the Jackie Chan-starred Mr. Nice Guy <一個好人> ruled the Hong Kong box office as the highest-grossing local movie of 1997 at HK$45.4 million, upstaging the likes of Jet Li in Once Upon A Time In China & America <黃飛鴻之西域雄獅> (HK$30.2 million) and Stephen Chow in Lawyer, Lawyer <算死草> (HK$27.1 million).

And that is not all, as Jackie Chan reigned supreme as the Hong Kong box-office champion for three years in a row, where his prior two movies including Rumble In The Bronx <紅番區> (HK$56.9 million) and Police Story 4: First Strike <警察故事4之簡單任務> (HK$57.5 million).

I recently revisited Mr. Nice Guy <一個好人> a few days ago and I still find it was one of the weaker efforts from Jackie Chan during the 90s. Directed by Sammo Hung, the movie is basically a rehash of Rumble In The Bronx <紅番區>. The only few differences here include the change of location from New York to Melbourne, Australia. Instead of Jackie Chan playing a Hong Kong cop on vacation but unexpectedly finds himself caught in the middle of a gang war between the street thugs and the mob, Mr. Nice Guy <一個好人> shares a similar storyline. Except that Jackie Chan plays a TV chef but he also turns out to be a martial arts expert.

Jackie Chan and Gabrielle Fitzpatrick in "Mr. Nice Guy" (1997)
Jackie Chan and Gabrielle Fitzpatrick in “Mr. Nice Guy” (1997)

The story — credited to Edward Tang and Fibe Ma — who both happens to write Rumble In The Bronx <紅番區> as well, is as flimsy as it goes:  Jackie (yes, that’s Jackie Chan’s character name in the movie) stumble upon the television journalist, Diana (Gabrielle Fitzpatrick) while he is on his way home. Apparently, the mob led by Giancarlo (Richard Norton, who is unfortunately appeared as a cartoonish antagonist) is determined to get their hands on Diana’s tape. The tape contains the footage of a cocaine deal gone wrong between the mob and the street gang called The Demons. Then, things get worse when Diana accidentally switched her tape with one of Jackie’s cooking videos, which in turn, indirectly involved Jackie as well.

It’s hard to deny the overall uninvolving storyline that feels dull and awfully generic whenever there is no action included. It’s the kind of a movie where you wish you simply wanted to fast-forward to the good stuff. Even the acting is mostly average and at times, amateurish too, with the exception of Jackie Chan’s typically energetic lead performance and Gabrielle Fitzpatrick’s decent supporting turn as Diana. Sammo Hung shows up in a worthwhile cameo appearance as a bike messenger while his real-life wife, Joyce Godenzi can be briefly seen as one of the audiences in Jackie’s cook show. Also, look out for Emil Chau, who plays an ice cream vendor.

The final mining truck scene in "Mr. Nice Guy" (1997)
The final mining truck scene in “Mr. Nice Guy” (1997)

The action is among the least lifesavers here and while it lacks the visceral flair of Rumble In The Bronx <紅番區>, Mr. Nice Guy <一個好人> still manages to give us a few entertaining moments throughout its 101-minute running time. Personally, I enjoy the well-choreographed fight sequence in the construction building involving Jackie against the mob. Here, Jackie made good use of the props ranging from a wooden plank to a water hose and cement mixer, just to name a few.

Mr. Nice Guy <一個好人> is also best remembered for utilising the largest vehicle ever driven by Jackie Chan himself. And that vehicle in question is a gigantic mining truck called the Komatsu 830E, which can be seen during the opening scene. But the most significant one takes place during the climactic finale, where Jackie rams through multiple cars before destroying Giancarlo’s home.

Unlike Rumble In The Bronx <紅番區> where Jackie Chan has a few spoken dialogues in Cantonese, Mr. Nice Guy <一個好人> is predominantly shot in English with little Cantonese and Mandarin languages. Mr. Nice Guy <一個好人> also turned out to be one of the most expensive Hong Kong movies ever made at a whopping HK$200 million.

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