First and foremost, like many Jackie Chan movies, Operation Condor (aka Armour of God 2: Operation Condor) is a hilarious movie. It has been a long time since I laughed so hard in a theatre. In fact, one of the last times I laughed so much was during the prequel to this movie, The Armour of Gods which I saw back in the late 80s.
Secondly, Operation Condor is full of action, and inventive plot gimmicks that leave you gaping. Take for example, an inflated ball which Chan uses as a means of escape---a simple but effective trick. Or how Chan, fighting villains in a wind tunnel, uses the force of the wind to his advantage. I could go on. For whatever reasons, Chan's movies allow him to utilise intelligent gimmicks which serve to get him out of perilous situations, without relying on sophisticated gadgets.
Finally, Operation Condor has a healthy disrespect for the genre of movies it belongs to and for the general notion of what people called "political correctness". The script laughs at everything, and the actors, primarily Chan himself, deliver the material in such a fashion that it is almost impossible not to laugh, even if these are issues one feels strongly about.
The plot is simple: Chan is agent Condor, who has to recover gold bullion hidden by Nazis in the African desert. He is aided by three pretty female accomplices: an United Nations desert specialist, the granddaughter of the Nazi commander who hid the gold, and a desert wanderer with a pet scorpion named Ding-ding. As usual, the English over-dubbing is far from perfect, there's a certain roughness in the continuity of the film.
The movie was was made in 1991, but yet the effects and stunts go over well even today. It's not too different from watching an Indiana Jones or a James Bond movie today: they still entertain. This got me thinking about how a Jackie Chan movie made in Hollywood would turn out: would it contain the same charm and self-effacing tone seen in the Hong Kong productions? It is difficult to say. I, for one, find Chan's movies all the more appealing because, devoid of a smooth exterior found in many Hollywood films, you can get right to heart of what matters in a movie and evaluate it on that basis.
The theatre where I saw Operation Condor was packed and everyone was boisterously laughing. This should not be missed if you're a Chan fan, and is worth checking out if you're into any kind of action movies. From the looks of it, this is probably going to be yet another hit for Chan and Dimension/Miramax.
Operation Condor 2: The Armour of Gods is not one of Jackie Chan's best movies. In my review of the sequel to this movie (yes, the prequel has the "2" suffix), Operation Condor, I mention watching a hilarious movie in the late 80s titled The Armour of Gods. I cannot believe that this is the same movie, since I found it not very funny; the only explanation I have for it is that the funny bits were edited out. (I distinctly remember a gum popping scene in the version I saw that was done in front of the natives at the beginning of the film.)
The plot, like in the case of most Jackie Chan movies, is fast and loose: In order to obtain the mystical Armour of Gods, believed to possess magical powers, a group of Satanic monks kidnap Jackie Chan's ex-girlfriend Laura (Rosamund Kwan) in order to coerce Chan to retrieve the missing items that comprise the armour. Together with May (Lola Forner) and Alan (Alan Tam), Chan embarks on an adventure to save Laura, with plenty of martial action sequences, fights, motor vehicle chases, and the standard spectacular stunt at the end of the film.
The movie spends too much time telling us about the nature of the Armour, which is unfortunate because that's completely and totally secondary to the plot. By the time the action and the comedy really starts to pick up (this involves scenes where Chan is fighting the Satanic monks in their hideout culminating in a fight with four leather-clad stiletto-heeled women who have a distinct tendency to aim for Chan's most precious spots), we're ready for the final superlative stunt.
As I said, because of the not-so-fast introduction, a lot of Chan's slapstick humour is missing in the film. The out takes showing the botched scenes aren't that funny this time around either: they show Chan filming a stunt where he leaps from a wall onto a tree, missing a tree branch and hitting his head on a rock, and injuring himself seriously with a permanent reminder on the right side of his head. Overall, this is an okay movie that I recommend only if you're a Jackie Chan fan.