The Warner Archive brings the original cut to US audiences
The Archivist — Welcome to the Archive. As home video formats have evolved over the years, a multitude of films have found themselves in danger of being forgotten forever due to their niche appeal. Thankfully, Warner Bros. established the Archive Collection, a Manufacture-On-Demand DVD operation devoted to thousands of idiosyncratic and ephemeral works of cinema. The Archive has expanded to include a streaming service, revivals of out-of-print DVDs, and factory-pressed Blu-rays. Join us as we explore this treasure trove of cinematic discovery!
I just don’t think anyone expected this.
What an incredible surprise it was when Warner Archive announced they’d be releasing Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan’s original cut of Mr. Nice Guy to US audiences, recently restored and adding roughly 10 minutes of content back into the picture that had been stripped out of the New Line Cinema cut that American audiences had received in the 1990s.
And I guess now is as good of a time as any to have to bring up the names of Bob and Harvey Weinstein. Now dishonored and discredited and (hopefully) going to jail, Harvey Weinstein is a predator who abused countless human beings in his decades at the top of the movie business. Aside from that, he also brought dozens and dozens of amazing Asian films to the US. I wouldn’t have come to love Asian cinema as much as I do if New Line and the Weinsteins weren’t doing the work they were doing. However, these films were often chopped up, re-edited, cut down, re-dubbed, and re-mixed with different music. Today, I find myself more angry than grateful that these movies were deemed good enough to bring to the US only after being wrung through some vague pop culture filter as ascribed by Bob and Harvey Weinstein. Gross.
That context aside, and the general understanding that New Line’s practices brought Americans bastardized versions of many films, I’m not actually sure I knew that was the case with Mr. Nice Guy. This wasn’t really one of my favorite Jackie Chan films back in that golden age when Chan broke out in the US market with stuff like Rumble In The Bronx, this, and Super Cop while also breaking big with Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon, pictures that were made in and for American audiences. Mr. Nice Guy, retrospectively, does seem like a great choice to bring to American audiences as Sammo Hung and Jackie appear to have made the film in English and it’s cast primarily with non-Chinese folks and set in Australia. It probably seemed ripe for a quick and easy re-edit.
Sammo Hung’s original cut of Mr. Nice Guy, as brought to us in this new Blu-ray release, is actually quite delightful, and illustrative of peak Jackie Chan/Sammo Hung collaborations. Jackie plays… Jackie, as he is wont to do. This Jackie is a celebrity chef on Australian TV who is caught up into a battle with gangsters after a reporter who captured something incriminating on a VHS tape literally crashes into him whilst on the run from said gangsters. Soon the reporter (Gabrielle Fitzpatrick as Diana), Jackie’s assistant (Karen McLymont as Lakeisha), and his girlfriend (Miki Lee as Miki) are all caught up in a desperate and comedic chase after a macguffin with legendary white guy kung fu star Richard Norton’s army of thugs on their trail.
The English language actors are stiff and their line deliveries are flat. The tone is silly and loaded with broad humor, pratfalls, and sight gags. It’s a Jackie Chan romp, and if you can get past the language barrier that Hung likely had in directing his actors, it’s a highly enjoyable Jackie Chan adventure.
With any Chan film, you want some jaw dropping stunts and grace-filled acrobatics all mixed into a lovable hero. You get that in spades here, with moments of Chan brilliance sprinkled liberally throughout the runtime. There’s an early chase scene featuring multiple gags in a cramped alley that’s fantastic. Heavy Richard Norton (famous for many collaborations with Cynthia Rothrock, among many accomplishments) is a strong antagonist, too, with an endless army of thugs to send after Jackie and his crew. Most importantly, Norton is established as a neat freak who keeps his massive mansion compound spotless throughout the movie. All of this is built up so that Jackie Chan can use one of cinema’s greatest giant demolition vehicles to wreak absolute havok on Richard Norton and the third act of this film. Honestly, the destructive awe of the final set piece of Mr. Nice Guy rivals anything in Jackie Chan’s filmography for sheer, satisfying, wanton destruction and revenge. It’s glorious and highly recommended for Chan fans.
This is a great release from Warner Archive and if they possess the rights to any other Jackie Chan films that never got their original cuts released in America, I’d implore them to consider making those other titles available as well. This was a rip roaring good time to watch, and although I didn’t watch the original US cut, it’s fantastic to know that it’s included here as really the disc’s only bonus feature. I found a shockingly detailed resource noting every single difference between the 2 cuts which you can find at movie-censorship.com. Of course, as with all Jackie Chan movies, the end credits themselves feature a wonderful behind the scenes montage giving glimpses of how the action was shot and what various injuries and bloopers occurred on set.
The new transfer of Mr. Nice Guy not only restores Sammo Hung’s original vision for the film, but also looks fantastic in the process. Plenty of grain for that classic look you want, but otherwise clear and crisp. Jackie Chan fans in the US should most definitely give Mr. Nice Guy a new spin thanks to this new Warner Archive release.
And I’m Out.
Mr. Nice Guy Extended Original Cut is now available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive