Dragons Forever | aka Cyclone Z (1988) Review

"Dragons Forever" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Dragons Forever" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Director: Sammo Hung, Corey Yuen
Writer: Szeto Cheuk Hon
Producer: Leonard Ho
Cast: Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Pauline Yeung, Deannie Yip, Yuen Wah, Benny Urquidez, Philip Ko, Billy Chow, Crystal Kwok, Peter Chan, Chen Jing, Roy Chiao, Chin Kar Lok, Kong Lung, David Lam Wai, Lee Ka Ting, Leung Hak Shun, Lo Lieh, Shum Wai, Siu Tak Foo, Tai Bo, James Tien, Dick Wei, Pauline Wong, Wu Fung, Stanley Fung
Running Time: 94 min.

By Numskull

Superb action comedy from the greatest trio of performers ever to grace the big screen severely tarnished by unbelievably lame, ham-fisted attempts to expose the sensitive, romantic sides of Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung. Sammo’s megaphone scene and Jackie’s courtroom scene near the end set new standards in sappiness. Fortunately, Yuen Biao…perpetual underdog that he is…escapes this cornball predicament by being the only one of the three brothers not to get set up with some whiny, good-for-nothing chick. He’s got an apartment full of birds and fish. The birds, flying this way and that without a care in the world, are the disciples of capitalism and the fish, constantly moving forward through special tubes and never looking back symbolize communism. They’re all the companions necessary to keep Yuen company. Any other beast…like, say, a cat, lounging around and doing nothing but looking good and acting snotty…would be a waste. I guess what I’m trying to say here is…Yuen doesn’t need any worthless pussy hanging around!

Behind-the-scenes tension between Jackie and Sammo helped make this one a box office flop (at least by “three brothers” standards), but since when is the amount of money a movie makes an accurate gauge of its quality? Since…well, never. Whether or not this is the “best” Jackie/Sammo/Yuen collaboration is subject to debate (Project A is my pick), but I think this one best illustrates the onscreen chemistry amongst the men. They have plenty of scenes together, mostly for comic relief and storytelling purposes, but the three-way-fight, short though it may be, is the most noteworthy. They’re just squabbling here, but it really makes you wonder what they could come up with in a hardcore fight to the finish. *Sigh*…

For my money, Jackie’s showdown with Benny “The Jet” Urquidez (eyelashless) in Dragons Forever beats the one from Wheels On Meals. As far as one-on-one fights go, it’s one of Mr. Chan’s finest moments. Sammo Hung’s fighting bears his usual excellence, and leave us not forget Yuen Biao, whose performance here, in my eyes, outshines those of his two brothers despite his slightly lower amount of screen time.

A lot of you folks out there probably have a good idea of what to expect from a film with the cast this one has, action-wise, so let me just say that if there had been a little more focus on the brothers raising hell together and a LOT LESS focus on the retch-inducing romance, this could be an all-time top five film for all three of its stars…and, as it is, it’s still plenty of fun, so give it a try. And if you don’t like it, you will, at the very least, be able to place your finger squarely on the reason why.

Numskull’s Rating: 8/10

By Andrew

This one is THE three brothers film. In fact one of the alternate titles of this film is ‘The Three Brothers’. (makes a lot more sense that the other alternate title ‘Cyclone Z’) The three brothers each play screwball characters in this one- Samo is an arms dealer with a kind heart, Yuen Biao is certifiable lunatic, and Jackie is an unscrupulous lawyer who can’t get from his office to the courtroom without hitting on some unsuspecting woman.

At first Jackie takes a case representing some super-evil corporation, and then he employs the other two to help him spy on the opposition. Things get complicated when Samo and Yuen start fighting, but it really gets ridiculous when Jackie falls in love with the prosecution’s client and turns against his own client. Fortunately the corporation folks pick a fight, so the three brothers give them a fight. All I want to know is- where’s the outtakes man?

Andrew’s Rating: 8/10

By Ro

Wow! Jackie as a slick lawyer who works for mobsters and hits women (OK, it was only one woman… and she hit him first… after he saved her from a bunch of bad guys – but he still HIT her!), Samo as an arms dealer of realistic fakes, and Yuen as a crazy who’s so neurotic that the ‘Lone Gunmen’ from The X-Files wouldn’t take him! How do they think this stuff up? Oh, yeah, right, they don’t worry about plot! Of all the ‘3 Brothers’ movies I saw, this one makes the best use of Samo and especially Yuen and it definitely increases the excitement of the film. The only thing better than these guys beating up goons is them beating up each other! Which they do a lot in this one. Add a show down fight with Jackie vs. Benny Urquidez and you have a winner.

These guys amaze me! Yuen defies nature with the way he uses his body. Samo defies all known rules of gravity with the way he almost ‘floats’ thru the air when he should be firmly planted on the ground. And Jackie! You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but he’s like Superman in this film. In a suit he’s a perfectly tailored lawyer, then he takes off the jacket and shirt and I just gasp, “Where was he hiding those muscles? In his pocket?” (Unlike Benny, who looks like a brute even in a suit!)

I have to add a word about the video I got from Advantage (it’s a Tai Seng video) – subtitled and letterbox and it looks great! The subtitles are crystal clear, white with black edges. If you’re looking to buy, I recommend this version. Oh, and in this one, just about everybody gets to use part of their own name, not just Jackie! Oh well, why not?

This movie almost edged out Project A as my favorite ‘3 Brothers’ film, but not quite. Maybe it was because the leading lady, while gorgeous (since when does Jackie act opposite anything under a 10?) gave an excellent impression of life imitating cardboard. Or maybe it was because I just wanted to smack Samo silly for shooting so many fight scenes in the dark! Hey, Samo, this is why we watch these movies! This is why we buy them! We want to be able to see the fights! Despite all that, this movie still gets:

Ro’s Rating: 10/10

By Master of the Stick

This movie is definitely one of the best collaborations between Jackie, Sammo Hung, and Yuen Biao. On the plus side, it actually has a decent plot, so I never got bored. Also, Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung get to show off their skills a lot in this movie – for a fat guy, Sammo can really move! The way the three interacted was hilarious, and I loved the Three Stooges-esque scenes where they beat each other up.

The concept of Jackie Chan as a sex-starved lawyer was pretty cool, too, and I liked the court scenes. The final fight between Jackie and Benny was great, but it wasn’t as long of as unbelievably cool as the one in Wheels on Meals. Basically, there’s nothing wrong with Dragons Forever, but it isn’t spectacular.

Master of the Stick’s Rating: 8/10

By The Great Hendu

SAMMO SPEAKS: “Hey guys, let’s all get together with the cast from Wheels and do a sequel”

YUEN SPEAKS: “Okay, but just for the sake of not repeating ourselves, let’s change our characters a little bit”

JACKIE SPEAKS: “Hey can I be a lawyer who’s a loser with women?”

SAMMO SPEAKS: “Yeah, sure. And Yuen can be your insane friend who keeps his pet fish in a tube.”

YUEN SPEAKS: “And we can all fight with each other and look like the kung-fu stooges… twice!”

JACKIE SPEAKS: “And I can beat up Benny “The Jet” again! Boy, this should be lot of fun!”

Well, it sounded like a recipe for success, but I feel a bit let down. Sure, the fight with Urquidez was good, but not as good as the one in Wheels on Meals. I mean two women, a love story, Jackie and Sammo both gettin’ dumped, who the heck cares if it all “adds to the plot”, it killed a potentially good flick.

Let me ask this question: All those in favor of watching Jackie be a lawyer, raise your hand… (is that Ken Starr back there waving his arm frantically? Sorry Ken, you suck)… All those in favor of watching Sammo, Yuen and Jackie whoop up on some sorry excuses for bad guys raise your hand………. (1,2,3,4… 500… 20,000… 7,000,000)… that’s what I figured.

The Great Hendu’s Rating: 7.5/10

By Dan-O

What a huge, fetid, stinking piece of cinematic trash… whoops, just kidding, heh heh. In this one, Jackie plays a lawyer who, after a case, relaxes by beating the silly piss out of his clients. This is a classic simply because it’s one of the few Chan/Hung/Biao team-up flicks. I thought the love story was, what’s the word, tacky, but the scene where Sammo’s girlfriend beans him in the head with a wrench, and he just stands there, blood streaming down his head, not reacting whatsoever, was heart-breaking, and that’s saying a lot coming from a heartless bastard such as myself. Speaking of Sammo, can someone explain to me the physics of how this paunchy guy can move the way he does? Is he from another dimension? Does he take extra vitamins? I don’t get it, but I’m not really supposed to, am I? Is the plot any good? Who gives a crap?! I sure don’t. Something about drugs and chemicals and whatnot…. don’t worry about it. It’s not about “flubber”, and that’s all that matters.

Did anyone see “The Deadliest Art” besides myself? Well, I don’t really care, but I’ll bet one of you nutcases out there said “I DID!” out loud. They showed quite a few scenes from this movie in it, and evidently in my copy of D.F., the fight scenes have been, say it with me, sped up. Yeah, I know I harp on this WAAAAAY too often, but it’s my firm belief that such a practice of speeding up scenes of a movie by a distributor is about as vomitous an act as colorizing a black and white film or editing it of “objectionable” content. All timing and sense of awe are stripped away in order to make these people appear to move faster than they actually can, which is deceptive, and that bothers me. For instance, when I first saw the scene (in the above mentioned documentary) where Benny Urkidez fights Jackie in the lab, I was simply astonished by the fierce skill and flawless timing of both fighters. In the sped up version however, the movements are so goddamn fast your eye almost can’t keep of it. The scene, in affect, loses it’s impact, and… Aah, forget it. I’m probably just typing to myself anyhow.

Dan-O’s Rating: 8/10 (9/10 for the “original” version)

By Vic Nguyen

Isn’t this film great or what! The teaming of Jackie Chan, Samo Hung, and Yuen Biao can be considered as one of the greatest trios in film history. In here, Jackie plays a lawyer that is caught between his client [a chemical plant owner that is secretly manufacturing narcotics] and love [the cousin of the owner of a lake that is suing the chemical plant owner]. Jackie must decide between them with the help of his two friends [Samo Hung and Yuen Biao]. This film is great in action, but what I remember most is the comedy. Yuen Biao’s performance is hilarious as the mentally ill friend of Jackies. The fights are nifty to, including the final fight between Jackie and Benny “The Jet” Urquidez. This film is another must see from Jackie.

Vic Nguyen’s Rating: 10/10

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One Response to Dragons Forever | aka Cyclone Z (1988) Review

  1. Ningen says:

    Too bad the DVD is OOP on that one, ‘cus it’s indeed a classic on par with Drunken Master 2.

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