What bizarre items turn up in bargain bins! The cover of this Canadian "Dollar DVD" release features a promotional still of Jackie Chan from RUMBLE IN THE BRONX, while the back offers the synopsis for FIRE DRAGON, a 1994 period fantasy actioner starring Brigitte Lin Ching-hsia. So, is this another one of those ridiculous, Xenon-style composites where elderly, mismatching footage of Chan has been dropped into that Yuen Woo-ping film to create something "more exploitable"? No, but the movie contained on the disc does offer a heretofore unheralded teaming of Chan and Lin. Too bad that neither of them were actually involved in its creation!
This FIRE DRAGON turns out to be an atrociously re-edited version of Chu Yen-ping’s FANTASY MISSION FORCE (1984), a certifiably bonkers Taiwanese production that Chan appeared in as a favor for its true star, Jimmy Wang Yu. This reworking retains the Chinese Nazi angle of the original, but drops in a new storyline that is almost as nonsensical. In the wake of an assassination committed by the Nazis, agent John and his female partner (NINJA AMERICAN WARRIOR’s Julie Luk) set out to locate and liquidate the Nazi Leader (Chan Hung-lit). Wang, Adam Cheng Siu-chau, and Pearl Chang Ling (who played Chan’s sidekick) are gone, but the commandos Wang enlisted are retained, with Lin’s character, Lily, now their primary leader. John is able to get Lily’s support and, via a meeting with her backlit double, is supplied with blueprints of the leader’s fortress. We then get the original action climax, followed by an all-new one featuring the performers from the re-shoots!
One always experiences a certain perverse fascination when viewing these things, but the incredibly ramshackle assembly of this particular one makes Godfrey Ho’s composites seem graceful and seamless. As with those IFD patchwork quilts, a certain half-hearted attempt is made to mix the old and the new together, most notably via an early sequence featuring a Jackie Chan stand-in. His face is not shown, but to get the point across, the gymnasium where he is working out just happens to be plastered with Jackie Chan posters! This imposter also pops up in some new fight footage that is very awkwardly intercut with older reaction shots of Chan. The results are so transparently bogus, even children will not be fooled. The English dubbing (apparently improvised in the sound booth) is predictably horrid and the score has been largely pilfered from ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, PHANTASM, PSYCHO, and MANIAC (1980). Chu Yen-ping gets a "Planning Director" nod, while the little-known Wang Chong-guang is the credited director of this charade. There is some very minor fun to be had, mostly thanks to the original FANTASY MISSION FORCE sequences, and the DVD is dirt cheap, but even FEARLESS HYENA 2 is worthy of more respect than this jumbled monstrosity.