Protector, The (1985) Review

"The Protector" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"The Protector" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Literally: Mighty Dragon Fierce Detective
Director: James Glickenhaus, Jackie Chan
Writer: James Glickenhaus (HK version)
Producer: Leonard Ho Koon Cheung
Cast: Jackie Chan, Danny Aiello, Roy Chiao Hung, Sally Yeh Tse Man, Moon Lee Choi Fong, Bill Wallace, Shum Wai, John Ladalski, Fung Hak On
Running Time: 91 min.

By JJ Hatfield

This movie has two very different versions. The original version was made in the U.S. Jackie Chan made another attempt to break in to the movie market, even after “The Big Brawl” failed to find the fans. Jackie was almost as unhappy as many fans were with the U.S version of this movie.

The plot has Jackie as a cop in the US and partnered with Danny Aiello. They are two of New York’s finest, or something like that. Assigned to investigate the kidnaping of a wealthy businessman’s daughter the trail leads them to Hong Kong. There they find the kidnaping is somehow involved with manufacturing and smuggling drugs. Jackie has to save his partner and the kidnap victim as well as fight Bill “Superfoot” Wallace!

Clint Eastwood is Dirty Harry, not Jackie Chan. Having Jackie using big guns and tough one liners just did not work. Jackie uses comedy in his films not John Woo ballistic scenes. He was also hampered by his lack of English and had to depend on the director (James Glickenhaus) and others to tell him what US fans found humorous. Glickenhaus was a fool. He wasted Chan when he could have had a fairly good decent buddy movie.

Jackie went back to Hong Kong angry and upset. He decided to “fix” the movie and added more fights scenes, more action including the entire fight with Bill Wallace, with less inane nudity and bj’s. Involving more Hong Kong actors also raised the bar a bit. The fights are really nothing special but anything added by Jackie could only be an improvement. The result is a slightly chaotic but improved version. Still it can not be considered amongst Jackie’s best work. One way to tell the difference is by the cast. There are more Hong Kong cast members in the revised version.

If you are going to view this movie avoid the the US version. If there is a silver lining to this dark cloud hanging over his movie history it is this: Jackie was burned and learned from this experience and determined to make his own kind of police movie. That movie became “Police Story.”

JJ Hatfield’s Rating: 2/10 (U.S. version), 5/10 (Hong Kong version),

By Joe909

Possible conversation between director James Glickenhaus and anonymous financial backer, early 1985:

“So James, let’s hear what you’ve got.”

“Uh, well, [name deleted], it’s an idea I had for a cop flick. Two rogue officers, play by their own rules. Plus I’ve got some shit set in Hong Kong, like you asked.”

“Good. Golden Harvest wants this to be a total US-Hong Kong venture. I hear the studio head, some guy named Chow, has had his greedy eyes on the US market for a while. Jackie Chan’s his top attraction, I mean the guy’s like a god over there. Chow wants to break him in the US market. This could be an opportunity for you, James. This guy could be the next Bruce Lee.”

“Yeah, but that’s Hong Kong, [name deleted]. If this Ching guy thinks he can go from being a superstar over there to cock of the block in Hollywood, I’m sorry, but he’s fuckin nuts, you know?”

“I know where you’re coming from, James. But this is still a great opportunity. And his name is Chan. So let’s hear about the movie.”

“Okay, so it opens with midgets. Midgets and dudes straight out of Road Warrior. Mohawks, facepaint, armor.”

“So this is a post-Apocalypse type thing?”

“No. No, they’re just your average New York punks.”


“So they rob a truck, right? And that’s the intro for our boy. He shows up with his partner, right on the scene of the crime.”

“He gets in a fight with the Road Warrior guys? I like that.”

“No, no, those guys are gone. We only see em in the opening. Uh, Jack shows up after it’s all over. But you know, we gotta set it up that New York’s one dangerous place, right?”

“So Jackie and his partner go after the mohawk guys, then?”

“No, no, they go to a bar.”

“A bar?”

“Right. Just to let off some steam, whatever.”

“So you mean we don’t even see these Road Warrior guys anymore? Or the midgets?”

“No, [name deleted], they got nothing to do with anything, okay? I just wanted to show some bizarre shit to get the ball rolling, you know?”

“Well, okay.”

“All right. Let’s say we’ve got these guys, I want em real hardcore, Vietnam vets lookin for the latest score. They’re gonna rob a bar, right? In the middle of the day.”

“Would the place even have any money?”

“Look, that doesn’t matter. These guys are hardwired, right? I’m talkin Mac-10s, Uzis, M-16s. They go in, and get this, it’s the same bar Jake and his partner just went into!”

“I like it!”

“Yeah. I mean, these guys are so hot to rob and kill, they just kinda charge on into the place. I mean, if one of em happens to bump into the door on the way in, we’ll keep it in the print, you know?”

“Make it look real-to-life.”

“You got it. And let’s say they’re holding the place up, and one of em I kinda picture him as a big dumb guy who likes plush toys goes back to the john, and there’s, uh, Jack back there, pissing. At least, that’s how it looks. But then the little fucker turns around, right, and real quick we see he’s got his .45 in his hands, instead of his cock. BLAM! Robber’s guts all over the wall.”

“I love it!”

“Maybe he could say something like, ‘Can’t a fuckin guy take a fuckin piss any-fuckin-more?’ or somethin like that.”

“Lot of ‘fuckins,’ there.”

“He’s a cop, right? ‘Fuck’ is his favorite word. I want this guy, this, uh ”


“I want him to use ‘fuck’ as a noun, verb, adjective, adverb, all that shit. Fuck, I want im to use it as a pronoun.”

“I don’t see where he’d have a problem with that.”

“But anyway, John’s partner gets wasted during the gunfight in the bar. And speaking of which, this gunfight’s gonna be the best EVER. Slow-motion, guys screaming while they empty clips on full-auto. I got this image in mind where Jake shoots this one dude, and I’m gonna get this super-slow motion shot of the guy just getting tossed like a ragdoll through a window.”

“Jackie’s partner gets killed?”

“Yeah, so that way we can work in a revenge angle. But anyway, he gets a new partner. Preferably white. Can’t have two ethnicities in the lead roles, right?”

“That’s box office poison. That’s death.”

“Gotta be someone good lookin. For the ladies. I doubt this Charlie guy’s got drop-dead good looks.”

“It’s ‘Jackie.’ So who’re you thinking?”

“Two words: Danny Aiello.”


“I got Danny’s character in mind as a Vietnam vet, just as crazy as Jake’s character is. Two supercops, right? Plus Danny’s always lookin for a fight, plus he don’t cotton to superiors, if you know what I mean. Hates authority. And everywhere he goes, he takes his Uzi. Got in mind lots of scenes of him screamin while he just lets loose a clip on full auto.”

“That’s great stuff. Maybe you can have it so that his clothing gets torn often. So he can show off his physique for the ladies.”

“You got it. Okay, so halfway through the flick, Jeff and Danny are gonna go to Hong Kong. Let’s say they’re over there cause they’re supposed to be protectin some chick, maybe the daughter of some American criminal. I have it in mind that they’re at some fancy fashion show ”

“With a catwalk and all that?”

“Nah, I was thinkin it could be more of a deal with models dancing, maybe a couple lights, you know. Then these crooks in ski masks just bust in the place and make off with her. And then Chen and Danny find out the next morning that she’s been taken to Hong Kong.”

“The crooks get her to Hong Kong overnight? That’s impossible! I’m telling you, that’s just impossible!”

“Say, I like that. I think I might give that line to Jake and Danny’s chief. I’ve got a real good, original idea for the chief, by the way. He’s always gonna be pissed off at the two of em, callin em ‘supercops,’ and shit. You know, just something totally different than what you’d normally see in a cop picture.”


“We’ll have it so, uh, our star, he knows through reputation of the Chinese dude who runs all the crime in Hong Kong. He’s behind the kidnapping of the chick our boy was protecting. I have him in mind kinda thin, reedy, slicked back hair.”

“We gonna get a local to play the part?”

“Fuck that. What’re we gonna have him do, speak whatever language they talk over there?”


“Forget it. They’re all gonna speak English. When our boy’s talkin to the bad guy, I don’t care if both of em were born and raised in Hong Kong, they’re gonna speak in English.”

“Well, there’s a problem there, James. I just got word that Jackie’s English isn’t very good.”

“How bad is it?”

“Let’s just say he’ll need to learn his lines phonetically.”

“I don’t understand what that means.”

“It means we’ll have to hire someone to teach him how to say all of his lines: pronunciation, delivery, everything.”

“FUCK! Now you tell me this shit! I thought you told me he’s made a coupla movies over here already?”

“The Cannonball Run pics and something that ‘Enter the Dragon’ guy, Bob Clouse, directed. All of it shit.”

“Oh, yeah. I loved Cannoball Run 2. He was in that?”

“He was the Japanese guy in the high-tech car.”

“So he’s Japanese?”

“No, he just played one.”

“Same difference. Now let’s talk boat chases.”


“I want at least five of them.”


“I want this guy, this whatsisname, Johnnie?”

“It’s Jackie, James. You know, like Gleason.”

“I want this little fucker to LIVE on a boat. Someone steals a woman’s purse, I want the bastard on a boat, chasing his ass. Fuck, he’s in the DESERT, I want a boat chase. Oh, shit.”

“What’s wrong? People love boat chases, right?”

“It’s not that. I mean, this guy’s from China, right? He’s probably never even SEEN a boat before. You know how that place is. Lots of shantytowns and villages full of VC and shit, fish heads and rice for dinner. We’ll probably have to stunt-double him for the boat chases.”

“I’m figuring we’re gonna have to stunt-double him throughout.”

“No shit. I mean, all those people make are chop-sockies, right? Nickel and dime budget, lots of punching and kicking.”

“No boat chases!”

“Exactly. No boat chases! Shit, there goes my idea for havin him dangling from a helicopter. The little bastard would probably run away as soon as the blades got going.”

“But about these boat chases, James you’ll have to make sure people know where they’re taking place. I mean, we spend the money to shoot in Hong Kong harbor, we’d better get plenty of shots of the place.”

“[name deleted], you know me. I have a reputation in this industry as a master of establishing shots. You wanna make sure people know we’re in Hong Kong? I’m gonna make parts of this movie into a fuckin travelogue! Shit, even for the New York boat chase I’m gonna have at least twenty shots of the Empire State Building, the Twin Towers, and the Statue of Liberty jammed in there.”

“So how’s it all going to end?”

“Well, Danny and our boy basically take on all of Hong Kong’s underworld. I got some great shit in my head, can’t wait to get it on film. Like the main bad guy, he’s got this drug lab that only employs ladies. But the thing is, they’re all naked!”

“Oh, have them wearing white tennis shoes, and that’s it.”


“I’ve always had a thing for naked women in white tennis shoes. I don’t know why.”

“Hey, you’re puttin up the money. Whatever you want. I’ll even try to work in a totally-gratuitous close-up of some jugs while one of em’s bagging up some dope.”

“Make em saggy ones.”


“Saggy tits in the close-up. The saggier the better.”

“Uh, okay. Yeah, sure.”

“Do you have some fireworks in mind for the finale?”

“That’s the best part. The final battle, right? The main Hong Kong villain’s got Jackson stuck in some sort of construction rig.”

“How’d he get there?”

“Who cares? Audiences’ll only be paying attention to the action scenes, anyway. I’ll just make up the story shit as I go along. So the villain’s circling around in a helicopter, shooting at our boy, let’s say with a Mac-10 or something.”

“From a helicopter? Would a Mac-10 even be an accurate weapon from so far away?”

“Who cares? But anyway, Chang will somehow lure the helicopter closer, and get hold of the rig’s controls. And then BLAM! He drops a couple tons of some shit right on the helicopter!”

“Just blowing the villain out of the sky.”

“You got it! And I have it all in my head, right? I mean, we’ll keep the camera on Johnnie there in the rig, and we’ll see the helicopter explode outside, but here’s the genius part: we’ll hear the villain scream AFTER the helicopter’s exploded!”

“It defies all laws of reality! I love it! You have any ideas for the soundtrack?”

“Don’t worry about that. They’ve got those demo keyboards you can play for free, over at Radio Shack. I’ll just get one of the assistants to go over there on his lunch break and come up with some stuff.”

“Okay, let’s go with it. I’ll call Jackie’s people, get him over here. I just have one minor concern, James.”

“What’s that?”

“Well, let’s say Chan isn’t happy with the final product. What if he takes the finished movie and re-cuts it, makes it more like his usual-type flick, and releases his version in Hong Kong?”

“That’s preposterous! Asians can’t make movies!”

Joe909’s Rating: US version (as a “movie” movie): 5/10; (as a work of pure 1980s cheese): 9/10

By The Great Hendu

If we could liken Jackie and Danny Aiello to two different vehicles Jackie would be a well maintained candy apple red Lamboughini and Aiello would be an old, ugly, beatup, rusty ’68 Ford pick-up with the bed torn off and replaced with a rotting wooden platform. HOW can these two guys be put in the same universe? If Sammo had taken this script and juiced it up and replaced Aiello with like, say, Yuen Biao, I think it could have been a decent movie. But, as is, it pretty much bites.

There are a few minor stunts, lots of shooting, very little fighting and a semi-decent motorcycle jump by Jackie. At the end of the movie Jackie fights Bill Wallace. Now we all know the possibilities are endless, but what a major disappointment it was! It could have been as good as Jackie vs The Jet, but it fell far, far short of that. It’s no wonder Jackie was disillusioned by the American market!

The Great Hendu’s Rating: 3.5/10 (U.S. Version)

By James H

There are so many things wrong with this movie, I don’t know where to begin. First we have a really bad director (Did anyone see “McBain”?), a lame plot and bad acting, except for Jackie, of course.

The action was very bad, fights seemed slow and chases were boring. Glickenhaus (who also wrote this trash) is totally at fault. He does to an action movie what a hammer does to fixing your stereo. The fights are bogged down with slowmotion crap (not the cool John Woo way) and the chases are lack excitement because they are shot from too far away. I could go into MUCH more detail, about how to film a better chase, but I won’t.

Probably the worst part of the movie was teaming Jackie with Danny Aiello (who was good in “Hudson Hawk”). He had such great lines like: “Let’s get those fuckers!”, “Gimme that fuckin’ thing!” and my favourite “Drop the gun, motherfucker!”. I mean, really, all he did was pull out his gun and swear at the bad guys. I also had a problem with the nudity in this film. Really, what kind of sick mind does Glickenhaus have? What ever made him think of having naked women in the drug manufacturing plant? Another thing that bothered me was the music. Ken Thorne, who butchered John Williams brilliant music in “Superman II” and “Superman III”, can’t write a decent theme to save his life.

There were maybe one or two cool kicks and moves, but that was it. My friends and I made a better film in Media class this year. I just wish I had those 95 minutes of my life back.

James H’s Rating: 2/10 (U.S. Version)

By Vic Nguyen

The American version of the Protector is easily one of Jackie Chan’s worst films ever. This version (HK) of the Protector is a major improvement, but was still lacking. The problems that I had with both versions of the Protector is the lack of comedy. Jackie Chan is a gifted comedian, and taking that away from his films is a complete waste unless you have a good dramatic script, and the script for the Protector is far from dramatic.

Still, the Hong Kong version had it’s strong points, especially the fight scenes. There are two new added fight scenes in the Hong Kong version, one wiith Jackie fighting 2 guys in a weight room and the other involving two friends and gangsters in a ship yard, but was still good. The major difference between the two versions is the final fight between Jackie and Bill Wallace. The fight is much faster and is more exciting. The original version’s final fight is short, with the standard punch, kick, block and repeating. This version adds acrobatics which reminds us of the old Jackie.

There is also a subplot added with ” The Killer” costar Sally Yeh. But by far the best thing about the Hong Kong version is that all of the gratuitous nudity and bad language were taken out, which is a trademark of American style B movies. Overall, the Hong Kong version of the Protector is the best version available and is worth the extra effort to find it. When you watch this version, you will forget all about the Glickenhaus piece of crap.

Vic Nguyen’s Rating: 2/10 (U.S. Version), 7/10 (Hong Kong version)

By Clint

I have only seen the American version of this poor excuse for a JC movie. I have heard that there were major improvements on it in the HK version. I have to locate a copy of that somewhere. You couldn’t find a worse script than the one this movie contains. I am not even going to point out the really bad lines in the film. No comedy in this movie at all.

The fighting is about as bad as in a Van Damme film, with the exception of Bloodsport and Cyborg, but back to the film at hand. Two halfway decent fight scenes stick out in this movie, they are the massage parlor scene, and the finale in the warehouse. What better place to hold a finale? Oh yeah, JC flips a gun off the carpet and catches it long before he did it in Operation Condor. That’s about all you get from the protector. If you must see this film, they show it on basic cable frequently.

Clint’s Rating: 2/10 (U.S. Version)

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About JJ Hatfield

i like movies
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