May 21, 2016
Fantasy Mission Force (1984) (part 1 of 7)
SUMMARY: In a Hong Kong martial arts film that completely defies description, an elite group of fighters in World War II (including Jackie Chan, a Wayne Newton clone, a hobo and two Chinese guys in Scottish kilts) must rescue a group of generals (including Abraham Lincoln [!?]) from Japanese Nazis who drive late ’70s model American cars. And to tell any more than that would ruin the glorious madness that is this film.
As you can guess from the summary above, this film is pure-D insane! I haven’t seen too many Hong Kong martial arts films, but I’ve seen enough (like, three of them) to know that this kind of insanity is par for the course. If Fantasy Mission Force didn’t have all the weird costumes, crazy genre mixing, or an abundance of pop culture references that would make Joss Whedon’s head spin, I’d probably freak out.
This is probably one of the “better” films you’ll find on this site. Sure, it’s cheap as hell, and the humor is stupid, and it probably got hacked to pieces for the late night chopsocky TV circuit, but (and I know that’s a bigger “but” than Star Jones Reynolds) but when you get over all of that, this film has a lot of things going for it.
Jackie Chan (billed here as “Jacky Chan”) has a pretty small role in this film, despite his name being splashed all over the cover artwork. The story is that Jackie did this movie purely as a favor to Jimmy Wang Yu, who plays the lead in Fantasy Mission Force. It’s been rumored that Hong Kong director-producer Lo Wei, disgruntled that Jackie was no longer making movies for his studio Seasonal Entertainment, sent thugs to Hong Kong to kill Jackie. Supposedly, Jimmy Wang Yu fought off the thugs and saved Jackie’s life. Jackie vaguely alludes to these events in his autobiography, I Am Jackie Chan:
Jackie Chan: Later, I ended up returning the favors to Jimmy Wang Yu by appearing in two of his films—Fantasy Mission Force and Island of Fire. They were both awful, but I’d been raised to believe that nothing was as important as repaying a debt.
Similarly, I’ve been raised to believe that nothing is more important than meeting my obligations. Hence, I’m posting this review, which fulfills my contractual obligation to provide something for the Rogue Reviewers Kung Foolery Roundtable, as well as following through on my promise to review the movie that won this poll in the forums.