Updated: Jan 26, 2020
Armour of God (1986)
An evil cult, the Armour of God, a Count, his daughter, a music band....and Jackie Chan in top form.
Directors: Jackie Chan, Eric Tsang
Writers: Barry Wong, Edward Tang
Stars: Jackie Chan, Alan Tam, Rosamund Kwan, Lola Forner
Jackie Chan is one of the most under-rated of martial artists because he clowned around too much, undermining how seriously fast and deadly he was as a martial arts stunt-fighter. You don’t get to see the position of his fingers or his wrist when he throws a punch. You don’t get to see all the intricate upper torso or leg movements that you usually do in a kung-fu flick because Jackie’s fully clothed in this one. But none of that takes away from Jackie’s power, his speed, his agility that celebrate the martial arts even when dressed up as farce, as slapstick, as comedy routine.
In Armour of God Jackie is seen clowning less and showcasing his martial art stunts to a far greater degree. Jackie wrote, directed and starred in this movie with an Indiana Jones imitation script that is neither here nor there. Yes, you vaguely remember the sword and some other bits that together form the Armour of God being sought by an evil cult but that’s it. You also vaguely remember the ladies - Rosamund Kwan and former Miss Spain Lola Forner. But what lingers most is Jackie’s incredible display of kung-fu and stunts.
He fights four female assassins - all considerably taller, heavier and more muscle-bound than him. He’s attacked by all four, at once, their kicks swift and aimed as high as his head. But he outwits them through a series of dodges and ducks and he punches and parries his way up a staircase where their high-heels work against them. The fists fly fast and furious and the stunts are jaw-dropping including one lady rolling down the two rails of the staircase, another’s fall from a ten-foot base broken only by Jackie’s fist and yet another’s man-high jump broken only by Jackie’s kick.
In Armour of God Jackie is seen clowning less and showcasing his martial art stunts to a far greater degree.
There’s a six-minute sequence of punches, kicks, jumps, swings, somersaults, falls, leaps. Jackie’s pursued by a bunch of thugs in a warehouse and uses every trick available to out-manoeuvre them all. A series of breathless fights with Jackie’s typical twists.
Then another extended sequence with what seems like a hundred evil ‘monks’ in the mountaintop monastery of the cult brotherhood.
And of course those superb jumps. At least the way we saw it on screens was the jump off the cliff onto a hot air balloon. And from a ledge onto a tree. Jackie was so committed to getting it all just right that one of his daring stunts saw him crack his skull, leaving him a little short of hearing in one ear. We’re grateful that it didn’t kill him as it threatened to at the time.
Armour of God’s script was as unimaginative as a script can get but even today it thrills with the simple magic of Jackie falling, flying, fighting his way into martial arts movie folklore.