Jackie Chan’s 2001 film is a competent, entertaining action-adventure film, but ultimately a poor Jackie Chan movie. It’s still worth seeing, but after Project A, Police Story or Supercop, The Accidental Spy can only be a letdown.
Jackie Chan (Thanh Long) returns to Hong Kong film with this international-flavored action-adventure from director Teddy Chan (Downtown Torpedoes). Chan is Buck Yuen, a fitness equipment salesman who happens into an international spy chase. Buck is fingered by a dying Korean spy as his long-lost son. And sets out across the globe to find his supposed inheritance.
Adkins’ first role came in 2001 when he was featured in Jackie Chan’s Accidental Spy as a henchman. He has gone to star in many movies, be it in leading roles, cameos, or as villains. One of the reasons Scott Adkins is considered a good fit for martial arts movies is because of his martial arts and acrobatic capabilities. He shows much of this in his breakthrough movie, Undisputed 2: Last Man Standing.
Buck’s journey leads to to Turkey, but things aren’t what they seem. Even though he finds the money, numerous parties begin chasing him asking about some other package that he isn’t entirely aware of. Among these parties is evil businessman Wu Xing-Guo and his innocent moll (Vivian Hsu). The missing package turns out to be a deadly virus called Anthrax II. And everyone and their brother wants it for the obvious biological warfare applications.
What’s a normal guy like Buck to do?
As a Jackie Chan film, The Accidental Spy (Dac Vu Me Thanh) fits neatly within his recent body of work. It showcases terrific foreign locations, an international cast, and multiple spoken languages. However, like Mr. Nice Guy or Who Am I?, this international marketing approach yields an almost colorless film. The Accidental Spy compensates by using Eric Tsang and Alfred Cheung in supporting roles, but as usual it’s up to Chan to carry the picture all by himself. He does through his usual physical comedy, but his age is showing. There aren’t any really impressive stunts or insanity to speak of, and the comedy aspect is muted too. He has no real co-stars to play off of, and we’re left with a standard action thriller.
It just doesn’t enthrall and amaze like the best Jackie Chan movies do
This is even more apparent in the final sequences of the film, which go from an international spy chase to a rip-off of Speed, complete with a vehicle that can’t slow down or else it’ll explode. Why this happens is obvious: thrills! However, it’s not why we go to see Jackie Chan movies. We see them for the choreography and for Chan’s generous comedic persona. Both are in evidence here, but only in small doses. His age hinders the action and his need for international appeal renders his Hong Kong films free of any local charm or flavor.
At this point in Jackie Chan’s career, he’s better suited to the Rush Hour formula. Which allows for more comedy to compensate for Chan’s advancing age. All of this doesn’t necessarily mean that The Accidental Spy is a bad film. On the contrary, it’s a competent, efficient action-adventure that gets the job done. It just doesn’t enthrall and amaze like the best Jackie Chan movies do. And it isn’t as funny as Rush Hour or Shanghai Noon, either.