Chan of Thunder
As a rule I am not a fan of movies which work purely because of who the star us but truth be told if anyone else had made "Thunderbolt" other than Jackie Chan it wouldn't be the entertaining movie it is. It certainly isn't a great movie and between a slim plot and plenty of corniness it is technically cheesy but the likeability of Jackie Chan and some fantastic fight scenes saves it. But that is where there is a further irony because Jackie Chan was recovering from a foot injury whilst making "Thunderbolt" and so some of the fight scenes are in fact a body double which is easy to spot. Yet because these fight scenes are explosions of snappy and clever fighting you don't mind the fact that those over the shoulder shots are often obviously not Jackie.
Chan Foh To (Jackie Chan - Rumble in the Bronx) is a car mechanic who after spending some time fine tuning his skills at the Mitsubishi factory returns home to the family garage. Along with his father he also helps the local police catch those drivers with illegal modifications to their cars which is how he becomes enemy No. 1 to criminal and racer Warner 'Cougar' Kaugman (Thorsten Nickel) who Foh helps the police catch. But when Cougar escapes he kidnaps Foh's younger sister and demolishes the family garage forcing Foh to agree to race him in order to get his sister back.
So as already mentioned if it wasn't for Jackie Chan "Thunderbolt" would be a poor movie and that poorness starts with the storyline. Unrealistic and extremely simple what it is is an excuse for plenty of action be it fight scenes or car racing scenes which in a way is what you expect. But then you have all the little elements starting with the complete daftness of a criminal wanting to race Foh rather than get revenge add to that the pretty little journalist who falls for Foh as well as his connections to Mitsubishi and it is incredibly daft.
Adding to the poorness is a collection of corny characters, cornier dialogue and some serious mugging to the cameras. But the thing is that this cheesiness is sort of what you expect and whilst it is poor is also mildly entertaining. When Cougar tries to act menacing it is more of a pussy cat than a killer and all the threats are incredibly daft. You can also add to that the subtitles which does the dialogue little favours with some literal translations that are comical.
But the thing is that you watch "Thunderbolt" really because it is a Jackie Chan movie and it his likeable persona, the smiles, the comedy and yes even the singing as it is Chan who sings the opening and closing songs which makes it all acceptable. You even don't mind the fact that often the camera work attempts to hide the fact that it is not Chan doing the actual fighting but his body double because it is a fight scene right out of Jackie Chan's playbook. And it is the energy and cleverness off the fights, from dodging punches to bouncing on a canopy which makes it so good. Although having said that when it comes to the actual car action especially on the race track the outrageousness of the crashes is a bit too much for me and ends up like Whacky Races doing a demolition derby at times.
What this all boils down to is that "Thunderbolt" is entertaining but is only really acceptable because it is a Jackie Chan movie as anyone else wouldn't have got away with so much corny, over the top scenes.