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Accidental Spy (2001)

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[Movie Reviews]


-Jackie Chan
-Kim Min Jeong
-Vivian Hsu


Jackie Chan plays Buck Yuen, a fitness equipment salesman who dreams of adventure. One day, during his lunch break, he foils a bank robbery. This leads private investigator Many Liu to him, as he matches the criteria that Many Liu's client needs him to look for. Buck is soon convinced that he may be the son of Many Liu's client, Park Won Jung. Mr. Park is dying of cancer, but before he dies asks Buck to play a game of hide and seek. If he wins, he gets the inheritance. After his death, Buck is given some clues to start his mission. On his mission, he will find that Mr. Park has more in store for him than just an inheritance, as he has something that everybody wants.


The Accidental Spy is a surprisingly mature film for Jackie. While not completely leaving his comical style behind, Jackie brings a more serious and moody atmosphere to most of the film. Following in the footsteps of Who Am I?, The Accidental Spy is a big-budget, large scale, hollywood-type production. The Accidental Spy is more successful than the entertaining, but flawed Who Am I? and truly does mix the Hollywood-style production with some good HK action and storytelling. The Accidental Spy is Jackie's most mature work to date and definitely ranks as one of his better films.

The film actually could be split up into parts. The beginning of the film, which sets up Buck's character and background, sets the stage for his big mission and is not too terribly far from Jackie's style. While not as heavy on the comedy as many Jackie movies, it is still a little more lighthearted and has some standard Jackie stuff. The later part of the film is mostly action, which will be discussed later. The film, also, unlike many Jackie movies, has a proper ending that explains much of the film. None of this win-the-last-fight-then-roll-credits stuff. A welcome improvement indeed. The core of the film and its entertainment, though, lies in the middle portion.

The middle part of the film lasts from when Buck first meets his possible father up until he decides to try catch the main villain. Here, the film takes a mostly serious tone (aside from some short fight scenes) and is very moody. The initial mystery upon seeing Carmen (Kim Min Jeong) and hearing her story sets the tone first. Then, there is a solid action mystery. The heaviest part is in regards to Vivian Hsu's character. Buck will face a great decision about her that can affect many people, and this decision is riddled with emotional tension. This is much in the more serious style that the film takes.

In addition, it is not as "clean" as other Jackie movies. There is lots of blood, people are shot and killed, and drugs are used. These are not glorified, mind you, but rather fitting the story and mood of the film to create this harsh world. It fits in well with a story that throws a lot more issues and emotions at the viewer. Jackie puts on a solid performance, and no actors are particularly bad (unlike Who Am I?). Vivian Hsu, I thought, was particularly good with her part, which really helps the viewer appreciate Buck's moral dilemma with her.

The action in the film is pretty decent, although far from his best. There are no big fights at all, but rather lots of small fights here and there. These are where the film drops back into traditional Jackie style and allows for some Jackie goofiness. Luckily, only one or two tiny bits of this goofiness stands out badly from the rest of the film. The rest blends in okay. The most elaborate fight scene is one where Jackie is attacked at a bath house and loses his towel. He then runs through a market trying to cover up his private area while fighting the enemies. Its a very entertaining fight and gives some good comic relief to the film at that point.

Later in the film, the action turns away from fights. The last part of the film, in fact, is much like the movie "Speed", with a speeding vehicle that can not stop. While it is seemingly in many ways a rip-off of "Speed", I assure you, has better action than "Speed" and does not come off as too much of a rip-off. It is not the best action piece you could ask for, but allows for lots of tension as well as lots of destruction for those who enjoy good ole' destructive action in their films. It also leads up to a very cool final stunt. It does drag on a little long, though. One dissappointment was that Brad Allen was in the film, but his fight against Jackie was short and simple. After the great fights between the two in Gorgeous, it would've been nice to see another elaborate fight from them.

The Accidental Spy is a great film for Jackie to have done at this point. While still keeping bits of his standard entertainment style, he has allowed himself to show that he can do a more serious film. The plot is very well laid out and will keep you tuned. Action is adequate, if less than amazing. The mood of the film is its greatest asset and the (mostly) serious tone of the film works to its advantage. As previously stated, this is Jackie's most mature work yet and hopefully he will be open to doing even more serious films in the future after this. It is not the most entertaining Jackie movie, but definitely one of his better efforts and deserves to be in any Jackie fan's collection.


-Teddy Chan


-Original English/Cantonese/ Mandarin language.