Urban Cinefile
"I thought: well, you can learn at NIDA or you can go and learn in the real thing. I guess I chose the latter, and fuck, I'm glad I did that"  -Toni Collette
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday July 28, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



In 1930s Hong Kong, innocent and rather gullible country boy Cheng Wah Kuo (Jackie Chan) inadvertently comes to the aid of a powerful crime boss who, just before dying in his arms, names Cheng the new boss of his gangster organisation. Determined to find a way to make the business more respectable, Cheng and his crew open a nightclub hiring sassy lead singer Luming Yang (Anita Mui). But things never run smoothly at the Ritz, especially with Cheng and co taking in poor flower lady Madam Kao (Yah-Lei Gui) so she can impress her soon to be in-laws, then battling with other greedy crime families who want in on the business and always struggling under the watchful eye of the police.

Review by Craig Miller:
Having proven himself an action master, in 1989 Jackie Chan sought to impress those naysayers who thought that's all he was by extending his filmmaking talents into more traditional dramatic fare. The result, The Canton Godfather (a direct lift/remake of Frank Capra's 1961 and 1933 classics Pocket Full of Miracles and Lady for a Day) is some of Chan's more interesting directorial work.

Taking on virtually all the filmmaking duties, everything from writer/director/actor to stunt choreographer and editor, Chan tackles the broad-scale period feature with aplomb. Much of this world is imaginatively handled and the creative way in which he blends the musical numbers with the action sequences is extremely well done....even if a little Godfather-like in its editing execution.

It does drag in places and can feel a little underwhelming, but the parts which make up the whole are impressive and prove Chan knows much more about filmmaking than his chop socky resume suggests.

Visually it's a stunner. Rich, lavish sets depict a glamorous image of 1930s Hong Kong, and all the costuming and art design looks incredible. Peppered throughout this romantic drama are some terrific, but somewhat restrained, action sequences (it is a Jackie Chan film after all) and it's not until the final rope factory extravaganza that Chan really cuts loose. As we are accustomed to with Chan's martial arts, these fight scenes are rhythmically flawless, seamlessly blending the comic with the crazy for inspiring results.

Like with the majority of the titles from Universal's Hong Kong Legends range, the extras are a little thin except, of course, for another exhaustive and totally fascinating commentary from HK cinema expert Bey Logan who offers up a wealth of info about the production and HK cinema in general.

Full of that trademark HK slapstick, some breathtaking fight sequences and some real feel-good drama, The Canton Godfather is Chan at the height of his career, both directorially and as a martial arts master.

Published January 26, 2006

Email this article

(HK, 1989)

CAST: Jackie Chan, Anita Mui, Ah Lei Gua, Chun Hsiang Ko, Ma Wu, Bill Tung,

DIRECTOR: Jackie Chan

SCRIPT: Jackie Chan

RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes

PRESENTATION: Widescreen 2.45:1, Dolby Digital 5.1

SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary, animated biography, photo gallery, interview showcase with Jackie Chan, trailers

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Universal Pictures

DVD RELEASE: January 18, 2005

Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020