Protecting People from this Movie

Jackie Chan’s second attempt at finding a western audience failed as much as the first, albeit in different ways. Where Battle Creek Brawl aimed for wacky camp antics, The Protector wanted grit – New York grit.

That amounts to co-star Danny Aiello spewing graphic language that, like the rest of the dialog, is comically forced to sound stereotypical Brooklyn-esque, Italian tough guy. While that seems out of place, consider the opening scene, depicting the Bronx as if in a Mad Max sequel, complete with colored mohawks, spike shoulder pads, and torn jeans. It’s as if a kid wrote a depiction of what they thought New York was like.

The Protector barely deserves a notice as schlock

Were this directly a Hong Kong production, that’s almost funny. But no, this is American, and those cliches about New York’s ‘80s era crime turn this into a surreal cop drama. It’s no better when Chan and Aiello end up in Hong Kong, where of course they seek out a massage parlor, which ends as expected. Protector typecasts entire cultures at their worst in an effort to seem “adult.”

The Protector barely deserves a notice as schlock, an utter misfire so detestable, Chan himself tried to save it upon returning home. Slicing out mountains of pointless nudity, adding in fight scenes, and trying to salvage the mess that used his name, the result is still hopelessly uneven. Jarring styles between the muscle-bound American brawls and showier Hong Kong fights create a disjointed mess, but arguably a better film purely because of Chan’s action-driven instincts.

What American audiences witnessed obliterated Chan’s identity, eschewing everything that made him an overseas star, trying to frame him as another Stallone, but with Cantonese accent. The Protector is worth a glance only for its gorgeous location cinematography, capturing New York amid a grueling uptick in crime and Hong Kong during an aggressive economic boon. The gunplay staged in those cities doesn’t better countless cop-based TV shows from the era, while Chan and Aiello exhibit zero chemistry as partners; The Protector isn’t fair to either of them.

The Protector (1985) Blu-ray screen shot

Video

By far the best HD release of The Protector so far, Shout’s (whose previous Blu-ray was a travesty) perfect encode handles the grain structure easily, allowing the recent and sharp master to shine. The New York sights look spectacular. Given the previous disc releases, this is a revelation in many regards (not that it helps the movie itself).

Spectacular color lets primaries burst from the film stock, reds and blues so vibrant, they look modern. Satisfying depth to the flesh tones further perks up the imagery, and every bit of it looks entirely natural.

Black levels perform fairly well, if still drifting toward a dense gray rather than black. Fair contrast keeps the scenery on the murkier side, suiting the tone, if not doing much for the overall depth.

Audio

Stereo DTS-HD English defaults, and it’s best to stick with that as the Dolby Digital 5.1 track isn’t appealing given the wonky mixing. In stereo, it’s a quiet mix, requiring a volume bump to reach a decent enough level. Fidelity wanes in the dialog, and the muddy score produces messy bass. It’s best to have the subwoofers turned off.

Extras

An additional cut released in Hong Kong edited by Jackie Chan himself comes first (but sadly unrestored). The rest is primarily pulled from Shout’s prior release. Commentary comes from author Kim Newman, moderated by filmmaker Sean Hogan. Then, an interview with director James Glickenhaus, a look at the locations, trailers galore, and a stills gallery.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

The Protector (1985)
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
2

Movie

Desperate to appear edgy and hardened, The Protector is a sloppy cop story at best, a low-grade Jackie Chan action movie at worst.

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User Review
4 (2 votes)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 38 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray:


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