The Criterion Collections is prepping a massive box set of Jackie Chan’s early movies, but the selection may puzzle die hard fans.
Jackie Chan is about to get a major new collection from Criterion, with the prestige label announcing a new set called Jackie Chan: Emergence of a Superstar. The set will contain a few of Chan’s early classics, including Fearless Hyena (and its sequel) and The Young Master, as well as a later film, My Lucky Stars, and a pair of his earliest vehicles, Half a Loaf of Kung Fu and Spiritual Kung Fu. Fans of Chan’s may be scratching their heads at a few of the titles, as outside of Young Master and Fearless Hyena, none of the films included in the set are considered his best work.
It seems like rights issues are keeping legit early classics like Drunken Master off the set, with the most puzzling choice being to include Fearless Hyena 2, which is really little more than a curiosity for fans. Chan notoriously quit the film halfway through production after leaving his contract with producer Lo Wei, leaving the film to be finished with doubles.
That said, the set is set to be jam-packed with extras, including commentary tracks, interviews, alternate audio tracks (including a mix of vintage English dubbed tracks and newly created ones) and even, in the case of The Young Master, a Cannes Promo Reel that has some deleted footage.
Criterion previously released Police Story I & 2 as a well-received double set, and hopefully, this sells well enough that some of his legitimate classics get the Criterion treatment. Dragons Forever, Wheels on Meals, and some of his other Golden Harvest era movies, especially Drunken Master 2, deserve the Criterion treatment more than most of the movies in this set. Project A and Project A Part 2 are crying out for a new re-release in North America. Still, an issue used to be that The Weinstein Company had the rights to many Hong Kong classics, including most John Woo movies, explaining why none of those have ever gotten the prestige releases they deserve. It would be nice to see the much more deserving Hong Kong classics from Chan and his contemporaries get their day in the sun, as there are a lot of great movies out there that are out of circulation.