Jackie Chan dons his SuperCop mantle again in the Bondish actioner First Strike, a good-natured, high-energy showcase. Enlisted by the CIA, Jackie (Chan) is sent undercover to Ukraine to keep tabs on a woman (Nonna Grishajeva) acting as go-between in the transfer of nuclear secrets. The real perp is Jackson Tsui (Jackson Lou), a disaffected ex-agent who’s working in concert with senior Russian intelligence honcho Col. Yegorov (Yuri Petrov).
The plot-dense opening section, set in the snow, is at times incomprehensible. The story doesn’t find its footing until the action shifts to Australia, where Tsui’s dying father has been the crime lord of Brisbane’s Chinatown.
Pic’s producers clearly have aimed to compete with studio blockbusters by providing comparable bang for the buck. The Russian winter offers ample opportunity for 007-style chase on skis, with parachuting assassins on Jackie’s tail and a spectacular free fall into icy waters. There’s also an extended, tongue-in-cheek homage to Jaws and Thunderball, with sharks and assassins in an underwater ballet in the aquarium where Tsui’s sister (Annie Wu) works.
There’s also plenty of Chan’s signature acrobatic martial-arts wizardry to satisfy fans.