The Killer Meteors (1976): Breakdown by Kain424
A rich and powerful man seeks the assistance of a powerful warrior to kill his wife and retrieve the antidote for the poison she’s fed him. But all is not what it seems…
After the somewhat lukewarm reception of New Fist Of Fury, director Lo Wei tried to go a different route in making Jackie Chan a star: setting him as a villain against current star Jimmy Wang Yu (of The One-Armed Swordsman films). The film is ultimately Wang Yu’s vehicle, but Chan does get a couple fight scenes with the legendary Action star and more than holds his own.
The movie is adapted from the serial novels by Gu Long, though compressed into a two hour time. As such, it is littered with colorful characters, all of whom have their own unique weapon and fighting style. With it’s complex and twisting plot, it all comes together to make for a rather interesting and fun experience. And though Wang Yu is largely just going through the motions here, he remains believable as the movie’s resident bad-ass.
Ching-Kui Chan, the cinematographer from The Big Boss and Fist Of Fury, returns with about as much flair. The visual style of The Killer Meteors is rather stale, but the editing works well in assisting the characters for their amazing feats. Everyone can leap dozens of feet into the air or disappear as the angle changes. All of this, of course, fits the style of the time and if you are a fan of this type of film you may end up enjoying this one. It’s inclusion of a somewhat diverse cast adds to the fun, making every showdown have that extra bit of impact many fights in the genre seem to be missing.
For whatever reason, audiences at the time didn’t respond too much to this film. It’s not great, but it’s not bad either. Chan himself was not a fan of the film, however, stating in his biography that he wished it had never found its way to release. I think it’s one of Jackie’s better early films by far, made only more interesting by the fact he plays a baddie. Watch it and you’ll see what I mean.
[HOW BAD-ASS ARE THE MAIN CHARACTERS?]
Jimmy Wang Yu is Mi Wei, The Killer Meteor
Wang Yu starts the movie as a near-mythic Man With No Name-type character. Villains fear him so much they vow to him, as he sleeps, to give up their violent and evil ways. Some even cut off their own fingers to make up for their past misdeeds. It’s all very crazy, but it shows you at the start how much respect this man has earned. This is all likely a play off of Jimmy Wang Yu’s image, earned over the course of the previous decade and a half, of being the ultimate bad-ass in films like The One-Armed Swordsman series.
The Killer Meteor (which is also the name of his ridiculously awesome weapon) is one of those characters who, in retrospect, is rather uninteresting because he appears to have no true weakness and begins and ends the film as pretty much an unbeatable superhero we can neither relate to nor understand. Still, he gets laid a couple times, indicating that he is, in fact, a human being after all.
Jackie Chan is Hua Wa-bin, The Immortal
The Immortal is a rich, clever, but ultimately headstrong villain, somewhat typical in the kung fu genre. He attempts to play the hero and several other characters through the long and convoluted plot, but ends up getting whats coming to him. Skilled in martial arts, but arrogant, he makes for an interesting near-challenge for our protagonist, but his personality, like his true motivations, go pretty much unknown by the movie’s conclusion.
[THE BODY COUNT: 7]
Jimmy Wang Yu kills 5 of the baddies throughout the film, which is actually fairly violent when it wants to be. Using his Killer Meteor weapon, Wang Yu causes explosions which either cause tremendous, incinerating deaths, or bloody mangling ones. Still, there are so many switches and tricks played in the mystery thriller-ish plot, I had a hard time figuring out whether or not to count some deaths. There is a poison fed to a couple people which seemed to melt them down and deflate them like balloons, but then that character would show up again later.
[MOST SATISFYING ASS-KICKING & DEATH]
The Killer Meteor vs. Lord Fung
Lord Fung, a top ranking official and The Killer Meteor’s commanding officer, reveals himself to be a bad guy. The two begin battling, kicking and punching at one another and showing tremendous skill. Fung, even at his old age, proves to be quite the match for Mi Wei.
But suddenly Wei pulls out the killer meteor, his super weapon, hidden away during the entire film, and unleashes it upon his foe. Fung is blasted away, blood and chunks of flesh fall away. His surprise is still evident on his face as he dies quickly and horribly.
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
Despite the occasionally Village People-esque clothing choices of several minor characters, there’s not a lot of gay featured in this one.
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
The woman of The Killer Meteors are often duplicitous, husband-poisoning fiends, full of trickery and lies. Still, Wang Yu ends the movie apparently running into the arms of one woman, so they can’t be all that bad.
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
Jimmy Wang Yu vs. Jackie Chan
Wang Yu and Chan square off in a colosseum, upright poles are all that provides their footing. The Immortal thinks he has the upper hand as The Killer Meteor has already fired off his weapon to dispatch Lord Fung. He locks Mi Wei’s feet to the poles and prepares to launch his final attack.
“You must be real sorry you used up your meteor on Lord Fung!”
But then The Killer Meteor reveals something to his overconfident opponent:
“Yes. Sorry I didn’t tell you I had two!”
The Killer Meteor fires off his weapon into the air, which proceeds to assume a form more fitting to its name, raining down death upon Jackie. Just before he’s killed, Chan gives a great “Oh, Shit!” look I find to be particularly priceless:
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
Don’t fuck with Jimmy Wang Yu, even if you are Jackie Chan.
[THE GIST OF JACKIE: 0 outta 5]
[ ] Breaks Into Someplace Or Escapes By Way Of Acrobatics
[ ] Has An Annoying Tag-Along Companion
[ ] Makes The ‘OW!’ Face And/Or Rubs A Soar Spot
[ ] Performs A Ridiculously Dangerous Stunt
[ ] Uses A Random Object To Defend Himself
[THE CHECKLIST: 10 outta 25]
[X] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[ ] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[X] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[ ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[ ] Factory/Warehouse
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery [the “Killer Meteor”]
[ ] Improvised Weapon(s)
[ ] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[X] Manly Embrace(s)
[ ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[ ] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[ ] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[X] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[ ] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[ ] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[ ] Tis The Season
[ ] Torture Sequence(s)
[ ] Unnecessary Sequel
[ ] Vehicle Chase(s)
[ ] Vigilante Justice