Asian Hawk in Operation Condor

Spurred on by Indiana Jones, Jackie Chan chose to challenge the American adventure film with Armour of God, likely more famous as the movie that nearly cost Chan his life. Being Chan, after his recovery from an ugly stunt fall that caused his head to hit a rock, he then jumped onto a hot air balloon for the finale, defying all reasonable precautions to make sure an audience went home thrilled.

Armour of God isn’t a consistently engaging story. It’s choppy and chunky, and if anything, the American edit (slicing 10-minutes from the runtime) is better put together. A backstory that develops Chan as a pop star singer has limited bearing on anything else, sluggishly beginning Armour of God; it’s more an excuse for Chan’s musical career.

Jackie Chan chose to challenge the American adventure film with Armour of God

Two sequences define this near-classic Jackie Chan spectacle. One is a car chase inside a one-of-a-kind Mitsubishi car made specifically for this movie. Armour of God doles out cliches on top of cliches, from driving through fruit carts and diving into boxes. But, being Hong Kong, it’s elevated, including a ludicrous jump across twin bridges and heading full speed into a packed outdoor diner, the stunt people barely making it out without injury.

Second is the finale, packed with comic set pieces, especially the failed dynamite vest that’s among Chan’s most expertly timed and executed routines. Also, a fight against four women who absolutely pummel Chan in ways he’s rarely beaten on screen. Gaining the upper hand, Chan’s offense shows respectable choices, playing up the gender differences for gags, while allowing the women their chance to show off their own stunt work.

The rest though is a tough sell. There’s a clumsy romance between Chan and frequent ‘80s co-star Lola Forner, plus another with Alan Tam and Rosamund Kwan that’s also listless. Interactions with a billionaire setup the story, but also never matter again. Armour of God does offer a religious cult, something of minimal substance, if enough to lift the final act. Chan’s speeches against the mountain-dwelling, monk-like group add punch to his character, using money as a dividing point against their beliefs, dating back to the Crusades. It’s a little meat on thin bones.


Sloppy, soft, and filtered, Armour of God deserves a far better master than what’s offered. While hardly a catastrophe, Armour of God struggles to produce fidelity in any notable quality. Grain reduction doesn’t eliminate texture but does reduce it. What’s left appears chunky, littered with artifacts, but it’s not the encode.

Black crush impedes the shadows, further reducing detail and robbing Armour of God of depth. Passable contrast helps lift the imagery a little, but it’s still routine at its best.

Moderate color is afforded a basic, flat quality, with an occasional pop from scenery (say, flowers). Flesh tones hit a reasonable saturation level, but go no further.


Arguably the most packed uncompressed audio menu in this format’s history, Shout’s disc defaults to Mandarin stereo. Three Cantonese DTS-HD tracks change the ending theme. Three DTS-HD English dubs also offer the differing ending themes. That makes seven uncompressed audio tracks for one movie. There’s an additional 5.1 English track in Dolby Digital.

As for the Mandarin, the stereo split is impressively done, and at times convincingly close to a surround track. As Chan enters a plane after the opening action, it spreads wide enough to sound as if entering the rear channel on the right. The strained, at times even awful dialog fidelity aside, Armour of God otherwise produces a range-hearty mix, with deep sound effects and bright music.


It’s interviews galore this time around, with Jackie and Willie Chan up first. Editor Peter Cheung follows. Radek Sienski pens an essay that runs 20-minutes about Armour of God. Outtakes from the Japanese release, trailers, and stills come next. Shout includes the shorter international cut too, with a commentary on the main cut courtesy of critic James Mudge.

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.

Armour of God
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While clunky between its unreal action scenes, Armour of God tells a fun adventure story riffing on American genre films.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 35 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray:

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