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龍的心 (1985)
Heart of the Dragon

Reviewed by: Chungking_Cash
Date: 12/08/2008

Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan roll the dice with the tried and true mental retardation formula with surprisingly satisfactory results.

Hung, who also directs, portrays a 31-year-old with the mind of a small child who’s ever suffering younger brother (Chan) acts as his caretaker.

Screen writer Barry Wong, whose previous credits include scripts for the first two installments of the popular "Lucky Stars" ensemble action comedies, wisely shuns the very screwball humor and elaborate action sequences that lent to their popularity.

That being said, Hung regularly gives himself a comedic license that occasionally just spins out of control.

Still, audiences should enjoy Chan having his way with a construction site finale after being forced to appear on screen as an actor for more than five minutes perhaps for the first time in his career.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 12/14/2006
Summary: both hearty and dragony...

you know, i was sure that i'd seen this; maybe i'd just seen the trailer so many times that i'd convinced myself that i'd seen it. as it happens, i hadn't seen it...

ted (jackie) has just moved from the s.w.a.t. team to c.i.d. and is involved in the investigation of a robbery. he harbours (pun intended) dreams of joing the navy and marrying his girlfriend, but he seems to be spending most of his time dealing with dannny aka do-do (sammo), his brother, who has the mental age of a five year old. danny's behaviour becomes increasingly hard for ted to cope with but, when danny gets drawn into the robbery investigation, ted gets his priorities straight...

now, this film seems to get a lot of criticism, with people saying that it's almost like watching two different films, it doesn't gel and the mixture of drama and action is an uneasy one. strange. when compared to some of hong kong's genre-switching films, such criticisms seem a little rich in hyperbole. sure, sammo wanted to direct jackie in a straight drama but, as it was thought unwise to use jackie in an action free genre role, a couple of fights were included. i'd have said thrown in hower, in my opinion, they fit pretty neatly into the film as a whole.

jackie performs pretty well in his role, only slipping into the realsm of melodrama on a couple of occassions. sammo, on the other hand, proves that he is more than capable in putting in a solid character performance, once again (see also; 'paper marriage' and 'point of no return'). he conveys his character's innocence, on the whole, with a warmth and humility that had me thinking 'twat!', when jackie was yelling at him.

as for the action; apart from the decidedly goofy opener, it's pretty solid, brutal and impressive stuff. the final section of the film contains some great work, especially a hard-hitting confrontation between jackie and dick wei, that's just great.

all in all, i was impressed and entertained by this film; it's accomplished and more rounded than it's reputation suggests.

good stuff...

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 04/20/2006
Summary: Has its merits

Filmed in 1985 – a very productive year for Jackie Chan – Sammo Hung’s Heart of the Dragon certainly is an oddity. Originally intended as a drama piece, it was decided that cinema-goers wouldn’t stand for a Jackie Chan film with no action. What we are left with, then, is mostly a straight drama with flashes of fast paced (and particularly brilliant for the most part) action set-pieces. Whether it all gels together though has been a matter of speculation ever since.

Jackie plays a cop longing to be a sailor and see the world. Sammo is his mentally handicapped brother. The film focuses on their relationship, as well as Jackie’s quest for independence from his beloved but infuriating brother.

There are some problems with the film on every level, most noticeably some clunky plot devices. The opening scene has Jackie taking on a bunch of standard military types, where at one stage he audibly breaks the neck of one of his foes. A couple of minutes later and lo and behold, we find that it was all just a training mission all along. Tell that to the poor dead guy’s family!

However, there are some touches that lift this film higher than your standard HK no-brainer. Repeated viewings reveal things you may have missed originally – like Jackie’s bedroom decked out in naval fashion (complete with porthole window and ship’s wheel on the wall). One of the neatest touches, though, is the scene where Sammo attempts to become “grown up” and searches for a job. While out, dressed not in his usual dungarees but a smart shirt and trousers, he tries his very best to blend in. Sammo does a fine job of playing a child trying to be a man – all the time with his He-Man action figure still in his shirt pocket!

As mentioned, the film is an uneasy mix of action and drama. But with the action choreographed by Yuen Biao, you can be assured that when the action DOES occur, it’s a wonder to behold.

Given the current trend in HK cinema, and the thirst for a film with both Jackie AND Sammo, it has to be said that if this film were to be made now, it would probably rake in the profits. As it is, this film was seen as an anomaly in 1985, a rare mis-step in the career on those that performed. Which is a shame. See it and judge for yourself…

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: Masterofoneinchpunch
Date: 10/04/2005

After several “Lucky Stars” films, Sammo Hung wanted to direct Jackie Chan in a serious movie. Jackie believed (rightly so) that the Hong Kong audience would have trouble accepting him in a non-action role. Sammo was insistent and Jackie acquiesced. With a screenplay coauthored by Barry Wong and Sammo Hung they ventured forth to create Heart of Dragon (aka First Mission). This film would be a box office disappointment though he soon would create one of his best films – Police Story.

Jackie stars as a CID officer (formally from SWAT) who takes care of his mentally-challenged 29 year old brother Danny. Danny is an affable and naive grown-up who is known as Do Do by his child friends. He is so credulous that even his kid companions use him for nefarious reasons such as getting into a restaurant or passing off as a parent. He is a constant drain on his brother Jackie who always has to take care of him. Jackie is also split between wanting to make his girlfriend Jenny (Emily Chu who was also in the first two A Better Tomorrow films) happy and his dream of becoming a merchant marine. Danny is wonderfully played by Hung who is not afraid to sacrifice his dignity and his body for this role such as the scene when Danny is looking for a job to be more self supporting is taken advantage of by a restaurant owner (Wu Ma who also helped produce this film) who persuades him to act like a bull, a dog and a snake. Chan’s acting is good with occasional forays into the melodramatic.

Heart of Dragon is an enjoyable but fragmented and uneven film. It attempts to be a drama, but after half the picture is over it wants to be action movie. I feel that they did not believe they could create a full serious picture. The switch in tone of the film is distracting and hurts the overall feel of the picture. Yet the ending choreographed by Yuen Biao, though somewhat stereotypical of action film endings, has one of the most exciting sequences Jackie and Sammo has ever done. So my feelings are mixed by this change. Golden Harvest also felt that the audience would not believe a Sammo and Jackie film could sustain a dramatic pace and ordered two additional fighting scenes for the Japanese market. These scenes can be found as deleted scenes on the Fortune Star release.

You could review this film as two separate films. The drama was good except for periodical bouts of overacting and melodramatic scenes (though Sammo’s character seems quite believable.) The action part of the film was also good (not counting the opening scene which was totally unbelievable with Mr. Eyebrows – one of my favorite actors Lam Ching Ying) but catered to stereotypical scripting. For example Do Do plays cops and robbers with his kid friends and accidentally scares a gangster into giving up a bag of jewelry that belongs to local Triad member the cigar chomping Mr Kin (James Tien.) Mr Kin then, eventually, kidnaps Do Do to get the eventual climax between CID and Mr Kin and his men.

As a complete concept, the film does not work as well as the sum of the parts. The film also has the problem of transitioning from action to drama to action then back to drama again. Then there is the problem with the horrible “electronic” music playing in the background. But many of the parts are quite excellent. People who are expecting a “Jackie Chan” film will be disappointed with the exception of the deleted scenes and the excellent ending. I was disappointed because I saw that they could have made a more compelling drama or at least a more fluid piece. However, there is much to enjoy with the film, as if I had not said it enough, especially the ending.. Notes: other character actors in the film are Fung Hark On (portraying another slimy character), Yuen Wah and Corey Yuen (both who grew up with Jackie Chan, Sammo and Yuen Biao as part of the Seven Little Fortunes.)

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: SteelwireMantis
Date: 09/04/2003
Summary: Very good, enjoyable drama

This was the last 'serious' movie to be made by Chan (up until '93 with 'Crime Story), due to the unsuccessful box office result of this movie. But I think it was a very heart-warming and enjoyable drama with good fight scenes.

Tom (Chan) is a Hong Kong cop who dreams of sailing, but his dream is left incomplete after his mentally challenged older brother Danny (Hung) argues that his brother is deserting him. As Tom struggles to support Danny, things could not get easier after Danny is kidnapped by a Gang and force Tom to risk his career and life to save his brother.

I think that the HK audience expected an action comedy from Chan and Hung which led to them underestimating this movie. Jackie Chan does show acting talent although the show is stolen by Samo Hung as Danny. There are scenes that did make me feel touched and sad (as I have a close relationship with my brothers), as the storyline was similar to Tom Cruise/Dustin Hoffman's 'Rain Man' this film was made before. I'd advise you not to expect your usual serving of numerous fight scenes as it is a drama. But the fights are more violent and darker than the usual Chan movies. I'd advise you to see the uncut version with two rare fights.

A very enjoyable movie, worth seeing.


Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: Waiguoren99
Date: 07/10/2002

PG - 13 for violence and nudity. Martial Arts Drama.

For years, police officer Tom AKA Ta-ta (Jackie Chan) has given up his life's dream of sailing as a merchant seaman to care for Danny AKA Dodo (Sammo Hung), his severely retarded older brother. Now he gets a last chance to realize his dream, but Danny's fearful fury when he realizes that his brother is leaving him triggers Tom's resentment and anger and leads to an emotionally devastating conflict. Then Danny's accidental involvement with a criminal gang puts him in mortal danger, and Tom must make a choice -- his dream, or his brother's life.

Definitely not just for action fans, Heart Of Dragon is primarily a heart - tugging drama which includes thrilling martial arts choreography. (Please note: this film does have darker and more intense fighting than some of Chan's films.) Chan, in a role calling for more depth of character than in his usual films, plays the loving but resentful brother of a severely retarded man. Sammo Hung shows unusual courage in playing this role (very few action stars would dare to play a man with the mind of a 5 - year - old) and Hung pulls no punches in a realistic, completely believable performance. You can't help falling in love with both these men and becoming totally involved in their trials and triumphs. Well-done martial arts sequences and stunts by Hung, who also directed, are seamlessly integrated into the story, adding suspense and thrills to the mix. An older film, some of the acting is still in the more theatrical "opera" style and may seem a bit broad for those used to Western minimalist screen acting. Although the studio which cut and dubbed the version I saw of this film for the American audience has left it a bit choppy (or it would rate 4 out of 5 thumbs up), it is still a largely - unknown gem.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 01/12/2002
Summary: Good

A pretty good drama movie with Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung. They both show that they can seriously act, and not just joke around on screen.

This is a drama movie remember, don't get confused thinking it's action or comedy, but very good in my opinion.

Rating: 3/5

(This rating is based on the year & genre, so don't think it's based as a comparison on new releases etc.)

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 12/17/2001
Summary: Surprisingly turns out to be quite fantastic

HEART OF DRAGON (1985) - I'd somehow never quite got around to seeing this before. Somehow the idea of Jackie Chan & Sammo Hung in a drama just didn't sound right. Well, it was certainly a brave departure for the two of them, but they managed to pull it off very successfully. Jackie plays a cop whose dreams of travelling the world seem like they will never be fulfilled whilst he has to look after his older brother Sammo - thirty years old but with a mental age of about 5. The movie is perhaps not the most gentle-handed look at the issue, but I found it very moving and convincing. Both Jackie and Sammo put in excellent performances in very atypical roles, and the relationship between them is handled extremely well. You really feel the love the two of them have for each other, which probably has quite a bit to do with the actual little/big brother relationship the two of them had since childhood. Even the child actors that form Sammo's group of friends are really good here.

The movie sets out for your tear ducts or your heart strings and makes a pretty ferocious attack on them - the situation is definitely mined for emotional content to the max. But hey, it works :)

It was perhaps a little too predictable that the movie would end up with Sammo accidentally getting caught up in the affairs of a gang of very nasty jewel thieves and Jackie would end up getting to take a more traditional role as the kung fu cop going against his superiors and even more against the bad guys (err, actually in 1985 that wasn't already traditional for him, was it?). You have to admit that a Jackie/Sammo film with no action at all just wouldn't make you happy though, right? The action climax here makes up for the lack of action in the remainder of the film by being absolutely superb - intense, athletic and really well filmed. Reasonably lengthy too. Even if action is all you care about, this scene is enough to put the movie near the top of Jackie & Sammo's filmography together.

But Heart Of Dragon does manage to deliver on many more levels than the action - there are a number of absolutely wonderful moments throughout, making this one of the best and most well rounded movies that either star has been involved in. Highly recommended.

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 05/05/2001
Summary: Ok-ish

This movie is half action BUT half DRAMA!! Sammo is a retarded guy and apprently he won some award for his performance. This is the first part and the 2nd is Jackie fighting!! Now because the DRAMA was so strong and then the focus changes to action, it's like 2 completely different movies!! Thats the bad part about this movie.........and because of this it's getting........


Reviewed by: Fuck You
Date: 02/20/2001

I feel really bad saying saying this but I HATE THE FILM

Reviewed by: ElectraWoman
Date: 10/29/2000
Summary: 5/10-Blah, boring

I thought this film was very boring. Nothing but a please-feel-sorry-for-me film. Ugh!

I thought that if they had tried to explore the issue of intellectual disability instead of making Sammo Hung's character a subject of pity, this film would have been a lot better. Still, Sammo puts in a great performance, and my God was it funny watching him run around Wu Ma's shop, pretending to be an assortment of things. Also, a great soundtrack.

Reviewed by: Olorin
Date: 03/19/2000
Summary: One of Chan's finest films

Heart of the Dragon is not a conventional Jackie Chan film, and the one attempt to make it one hurts the movie.

Jackie Chan plays a cop, Sammo Hung, his retarded brother. The film is fundamentally a drama about the relationship between the two brothers, and the tension between family responsibility and dreams.

The film is nearly ruined by a gratuitous and formulaic fight scene at the end, but a brilliant and moving cantopop summary montage (the bookend to an earlier montage in the film) saves everything.

(4/5) Melodrama, not action

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/21/1999

This is Jackie's most serious film. No action but Samo Hung gives a wonderful performance as Jackie's retarded brother.


[Reviewed by Andrej Blazeka]

Reviewed by: hokazak
Date: 12/09/1999

Believe it or not, there are significant portions of this film which qualify it to be called Sammo and Jackie's first "tear-jerker" type sentimental film. I think Sammo won an award for his performance as Jackie's mentally disabled brother in this one. Some great action / stunt sequences, as usual. The fight sequences at the beginning and end are good, especially the fight scene between Jackie and Dick Wei. Some good car/motorcycle stunts too.

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

A heartwarming drama of filial love and devotion. Jackie Chan isa cop who forsakes his dream of sailing around the world so that he can care for his gullible, mentally retarded brother (Samo Hung). Innocently caught up in a gangland fight over some stolen jewels, Samo is kidnapped to force Jackie to hand over a police informant.

[Reviewed by Rim Films Catalog]

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Jackie's worst film of the second generation of his movies(i.e. the ones where the central story line is not avenge the death of my master). It contains little action and Samo does not get a chance to display his martial arts skills. This is an attempt at serious drama that contains not enough action. Apart from the promising opening scene and the final fight the movie is flat and boring.


[Reviewed by Dave Warner]

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Chan stars as a policeman who looks after his mentally retarded brother Samo. When Samo is innocently caught up in a gangland fight over some stolen jewels he is taken prisoner and held hostage in order to force Chan to hand over a police informer. A fast-paced and spirited kung fu adventure.


[Reviewed by Elliot's Guide to Films on Video]