June 19: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie — is Jackie Chan!
Fantasy Mission Force is one of the first movies I ever owned. It was a cheap VHS tape and I was so excited to own a Jackie Chan movie in the mid-80s. However, once I watched it, I absolutely hated it. I didn’t understand why Jackie was barely in it or what a Hong Kong mo lei tau movie was.
Mo lei tau means nonsense, a type of slapstick that was developed in Hong Kong that places elements that should not belong together, often with anachronisms and things that should in no way go together.
That explains why this movie, set during World War II, begins with the Japanese attack on Canada, where four generals, including Abraham Lincoln, are taken by the enemy. Lieutenant Don Wen leads the rescue, putting together a team. At first, he rejects James Bond, Rocky, Albert from Aces Go Places and Snake Plissken because he heard that he’s dead. He ends up with a dirty kind of dozen that includes two kilt-wearing weirdos, a homeless man named Old Sun, Greased Lightning the escape artist, Billy and Lily (Brigitte Lin, The Bride with the White Hair). They’re soon joined by two criminals who want money named Emily and Sammy (Jackie, finally showing up).
Don Wen dies pretty quickly when some natives attack them, followed by cannibals led by a man in a tuxedo. That man would be Yu Jin Xiang and his music is that of Chor Lauheung, a martial arts soap opera in which the actor who plays this role, Adam Cheng, appeared on. He was typecast as a James Bond type, which is why he plays this role in the movie.
After our gang kills them off, they must spend the night in a haunted house staffed by Chinese hopping vampires before they find the base. But when they get there, the generals are gone and the Japanese are all dead.
They barely have a second to catch their breath before German troops in 1970s cars attack them, except they’re all Japanese and dressed like they’ve come out of Mad Max. Everyone in the cast is killed as the movie suddenly gets dark — I was ill-prepared for this narrative switch — and only Sammy, Emily and Old Sun survive, but the older man is soon killed by Don Wen, who survived and orchestrated the whole thing.
This leads to a fight and Jackie of course wins, before driving off with the girl. But hey — Don Wen is playing by Jimmy Wang Yu, the man who starred in movies like Master of the Flying Guillotine and The One Armed Swordsmen.
So why did Jackie make this movie? Well, he owed director Jimmy Wang Yu a favor, because Wang Yu negotiated on Chan’s behalf during a Triad dispute over his contract between Golden Harvest and Chan’s former employer Wei Lo. It’s also why Jackie made the movie Island of Fire.
This movie is goofy beyond belief, with music stolen from Planet of the Apes, Halloween, Tourist Trap and The Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion. But best of all, it has Brigitte Lin shooting a bazooka. I’ve come around to this movie in my old age, but trust me, it’s really something.
You can watch this on YouTube.