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Sammo Hung
Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Emily Chu
Writing Credits:
Barry Wong

Undercover cop Tat struggles to balance his life and his need to care for his mentally delayed brother.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Cantonese DTS-HD MA 1.0
Cantonese DTS-HD MA 1.0 with Hong Kong Music (Extended Only)
Mandarin DTS-HD MA 1.0 (Theatrical Only)
English DTS-HD MA 1.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 91 min. (Theatrical)
99 min. (Extended)
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 4/11/2023

• Audio Commentary with Film Historian Frank Djeng and Filmmaker FJ DeSanto
• “The First Mission” Featurettes
• Archive Interviews
• Alternate English Credits
• Trailer Gallery
• Image Gallery


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
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-Panasonic DMP-BDT220P Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Heart of Dragon [Blu-Ray] (1985)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 20, 2023)

Amazing as it seems, Jackie Chan’s career started more than 60 years ago. Now almost 70, he continues to work on a seemingly non-stop basis. For a look at Chan about 20 years into his cinematic life, we go to 1985’s Heart of Dragon.

Set in Hong Kong, Tat Fung (Chan) works as part of the police Criminal Investigation Department. He also serves as primary caretaker for his intellectually disabled brother Dodo (Sammo Hung).

Tat dreams of escape and plans to leave Hong Kong to see the world as a sailor. However, Dodo’s issues make it tough for him to leave.

I admit my familiarity with Chan comes mainly from American productions like the Rush Hour movies. A scan of my reviews reveals that I watched only one of Chan’s Hong Kong flicks: 1999’s Gorgeous, a film I viewed nearly 23 years ago and since completely forgot existed.

Given that Chan has made scores of movies, this leaves me with an incomplete view of him as a screen presence. I maintained the impression of Chan as actor second and action star first, one who specializes in a wild, over the top style of martial arts combined with comedy.

This took me into Dragon with more than a little trepidation given his character’s family relationship. Roles with cognitive deficits received pretty stereotypical and cartoony treatment back in the 1980s, so I feared the movie would use Dodo as nothing more than a ridiculous goofball.

Happily, Dragon largely avoids that. While I can’t claim it paints Dodo as a realistic portrait of a man with intellectual challenges, as played by Hung, he feels more human than anticipated.

Dragon comes as a surprise because it provides a substantially more dramatic tale than I expected. As noted, I went into it with the view of Chan as a broad, comedic action star, so I didn’t think I’d find a movie that leans toward character material as much as this one does.

Indeed, one can easily forget Dragon brings us a “Jackie Chan Flick”, as it goes long stretches without any action, much less his usual brand of kinetic martial arts. After a CID training exercise at the start, the film concentrates largely on Tat and Dodo without much of the usual violent razzmatazz.

This leaves Dragon essentially as a character drama until the final act. At that point, someone went “oh yeah – Jackie Chan Flick!” and a contrived subplot set the anticipated wheels into motion.

I have no clue how Chan fans view this, but as someone on the outside, I appreciate the greater emphasis on story and personalities – in theory, at least. I like that Dragon attempts to give us something more than just goofy martial arts thrills.

However, I can’t claim that Dragon achieves its dramatic goals. The movie’s depiction of Tat and Dodo never develops any depth, and the entire “plot” feels like an excuse simply to fill time until the filmmakers think they can deliver the expected action finale.

Because Dragon spends so much time with character material, the final sequence seems gratuitous. It comes across as though the filmmakers wanted to make a pure drama but knew that Chan fans demanded his usual fare and threw in the Big Fight at the End just due to a sense of obligation.

Again, I appreciate that Dragon attempted something out of the ordinary, but the filmmakers seem unwilling to follow the concept through to its natural conclusion. An awkward mix of earnest family drama and wild martial arts, the movie doesn’t quite click.

Note that this Blu-ray comes with two different editions of Dragon. In addition to the Hong Kong Theatrical Cut (1:31:25), we find an Extended Japanese Version (1:39:11).

The latter adds action scenes cut from the former, an alternate soundtrack and a blooper reel over the end credits. For my movie discussion, I stayed with the theatrical cut, so my comments apply to that one and not the Japanese release.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio D+/ Bonus B

Heart of Dragon appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie came with a surprisingly strong image.

Sharpness usually worked fine, as delineation seemed appealing. A little softness crept into some shots, but most of the film brought positive delineation.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and edge haloes remained absent. Grain seemed natural, and I noticed no intrusive print flaws.

Colors felt reasonably natural, albeit with a moderate shift toward blues. Overall impact seemed positive, as the hues came across as intended.

Blacks appeared deep and dense, while shadows brought nice clarity. This turned into a highly pleasing presentation.

I felt the DTS-HD MA monaural audio of Dragon seemed lackluster at best. Dialogue tended to seem edgy and rough.

Music could sound somewhat shrill much of the time, and the score and songs lacked range. The same went for effects.

These usually seemed distorted and lacked much range. I also noticed an odd thumping at times. Though I expect the soundtrack reproduced the source, this still felt like an awfully problematic mix for a movie from the mid-80s.

As we hit extras, we start with an audio commentary that comes only alongside the Extended Cut. Here film historian Frank Djeng and filmmaker FJ DeSanto offer a running, screen-specific look at the differences between the Hong Kong and Japanese versions, cast and crew, genre domains, production notes and their thoughts about the film.

That last topic crops up an awful lot here, as a good chunk of the commentary simply indulges in an appreciation of the movie. Some of this goes a long way, and that means the chat too often just feels like fanboy praise.

We do get a decent number of movie-related insights, mainly from Djeng, and these add value. However, the commentary lacks the depth it needs to be anything memorable.

Under Behind the Scenes, we get two featurettes: “The Making of The First Mission” (48:43) and “The First Mission: Pre-Release Event” (15:23). First Mission offers the title Dragon used in some territories.

“Making” mostly consists of footage from the shoot, but we also get a handful of on-the-set comments from actor/director Sammo Hung, action director Yuen Biao, and actor Jackie Chan.

Don’t expect anything hard-hitting, as the program establishes a light, fluffy tone. However, we get enough material from the production to make “Making” worthwhile.

“Event” opens with Chan’s “message to his fans” – including outtakes of his goofs – and then offers a mix of movie scenes and footage from the shoot. This one also acts as a total promo piece, though shots from the set give it value.

Five segments show up under Archive Interviews. We get segments with actor Jackie Chan (9:27), actor/director Sammo Hung (two clips that total 18:53), stunt man Rocky Lai (10:05) and cinematographer Arthur Wong (15:12). Note that the two Hung clips come from different eras decades apart.

Chan discusses his goals for the movie as well as aspects of the shoot and working with Hung. Hung talks about what brought him to the project and script development, the film’s tone and drama, thoughts about the Hong Kong movie industry, action scenes, the “Final Mission” version, cast and crew, music and general thoughts.

Lai covers how he came to the profession and his experiences during the shoot, while Wong looks at his work on the film. All four men offer useful insights.

Alternate English Credits span two minutes, 32 seconds and offer what they imply: the opening/closing text in English. I guess diehards like this stuff but it leaves me cold.

Five ads appear in the Trailer Gallery, and an Image Gallery consists of 27 stills that mix movie shots and ads. It seems like a forgettable compilation.

Via Heart of Dragon, we get a side of Jackie Chan different from his standard MO. While I respect the ways the film attempts to go down unusual paths, it cannot quite get where it needs to go, so the end result feels a bit half-hearted. The Blu-ray comes with very good picture, rough audio and a mix of bonus materials. Though aspects of Dragon show promise, the end result doesn’t come together especially well.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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