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Film / Dragons Forever

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"Guys, this is like, one of the last movies starring all three of us together. Why are we fighting again?"

Dragons Forever is a 1988 Hong Kong Martial Arts Movie masquerading as a courtroom drama (until the fight scenes occurs, that is!) starring Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao.

Jackie Lung (Jackie Chan) is a lawyer hired by an evil corporation to help them reclaim a fishing village so that the corporation can continue their contamination of the local waters around the waterfront. Oblivious to his client's actions, Jackie hires his friend Wong Fei-Hong (Sammo Hung) to help him get back at the fishery owners - Yip (Deannie Yip) head of the fishing village, and Wen Mei-ling (Pauline Yeung), an environmental scientist about to testify on Miss Yip's behalf. Inevitably, Jackie ends up falling for Mei-ling while Wong falls for Yip, and a professional criminal and inventor, Timothy Tung Tak-piu (Yuen Biao) also hired by Jackie on behalf of the corporation ends up getting dragged into the main plot.

Don't let the above overly-complicated synopsis fool you though, this is just a very, very straightforward kung fu movie, one of the last that stars the three Dragons of Hong Kong action cinema, Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao (hence its title, Dragons Forever) all at the same time before their eventual parting. Pit them against Yuen Wah (from Eastern Condors), Benny Urquidez, Phillip Ko and Billy Chow (from Fist of Legend) and you're in for a non-stop action-packed fun.

Dragons Forever provides examples of

  • Action Girl: Jackie, Wong and Tung are not the only asskickers in the movie. Mei-ling beats up plenty of mooks in the finale too.
  • Alone Among the Couples: By the end credits, Manchild Tung is the only one of the trio who didn’t have a significant Love Interest.
  • Attack Hello: Jackie meeting Tung for the first time in years is greeted with Tung swinging a meat cleaver at his direction.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Wah is the leader of his corporation and drug-producing syndicate, and puts up a better fight than most of his mooks, maybe on par with his Co-Dragons.
  • Badass Biker: Jackie Lung, who frequently cruises on a motorcycle, with Mei-ling holding him behind.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Jackie and Wong. Averted for Tung whose outfit is entirely casual however.
  • Bar Brawl: Jackie, Hung and Wong against Wah’s thugs.
  • BFG: Subverted. Wong tries to sell a massively oversized assault rifle to some gundealers in his debut appearance, but he didn’t get to fire it. In fact, guns are barely fired throughout this film.
  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: Jackie, Wong and Hung spends much of the time bickering with each other, but eventually tries making amends, notably after their Mêlée à Trois.
  • Bridal Carry: Jackie carrying a near-unconscious Mei-ling after defeating the Big Bad in the finale. Humorously, Wong have to carry Tung like this as well.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Wah the Big Bad is an evil industrialist that wants to take over a fishing village and destroy the livehoods of people living there.
  • Courtroom Episode: Jackie Chan as a lawyer? Complete with several scenes in courtrooms and standing trials for the needy.
  • Crusading Lawyer: Jackie is a good lawyer who eventually ends up trying to save the fishing village from being wiped out by evil industrialist Hua.
  • Death by Cameo: Old-time martial arts icon Lo Lieh plays the mob boss who dies in the opening meeting scene.
  • Destination Defenestration: Happens to various mooks, and most of the time its Jackie who’s dispensing the attacks, for instance kicking an Elite Mook through a glass window, a railing and into the sea during the ocean line fight, or sending mooks out of glass doors in the nightclub fight.
  • Drugs Are Bad: The Power Trio protagonists eventually discovers that Wah’s industries is actually a front for producing and manufacturing drugs. Wong notably gets a taste of the drug prototype when being subjected to Cold-Blooded Torture after being captured alive.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Hua’s hideout where he’s producing drugs, complete with his own private office and guarded by two Co-Dragons, setting of the final battle.
  • Ensemble Cast: Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao in one of their last onscreen collaborations.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Hua, the Big Bad, wears glasses in every scene he’s in.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Hua is almost never seen without his stogie.
  • Groin Attack: Jackie and Tung do this more than once in fight scenes.
  • Hanging by the Fingers: Mei-ling’s ultimate fate after trying to take on Wah, only to end up getting knocked off a balcony and hanging onto a railing. Wah, in typical villain fashion tries to stamp on her fingers, but in his moment of glee he fails to notice Wong lunging at him from behind with one of his drug-loaded syringes.
    • Also subverted. Mei-ling eventually did fall from the railing when her fingers gives way, but the drop turns out to be less than 15 meters and she lands nonfatally on her back.
  • Hidden Wire: Tung is hired by Jackie to install listening devices in Mei-ling’s apartment for him to eavesdrop on her. Unfortunately, his Incredibly Obvious Bug didn’t stay hidden for long.
  • Instant Chucks: In the climax, a thug manage to force Mei-ling into a corner, on the assumption that she’s a helpless Damsel in Distress. She responds by picking up a mic and mic stand connected by a wire, and beats up the mook without breaking a sweat before doing a Bruce Lee-style nunchaku pose using said mic.
  • Karmic Death: Wah, who dabbles with drugs and tries to kill Wong by repeatedly stabbing him with drug needles, is killed when Wong stabs a syringe of his own drugs into his neck, and flung into his own drug-making machinery.
  • Law Procedural: Roughly before the climatic final battle can start, we get a courtroom scene involving Jackie, who turns the case in favour of May and the fishing village.
  • Manchild: The borderline immature Tung, whose mannerisms sounds more like a teenager and often talks with a Motor Mouth (he’s played by the then-31-year old Yuen Biao).
  • Mêlée à Trois: Jackie, Wong and Tung spend plenty of time fighting each other besides faceless goons, most notably after the meeting at Mei-ling’s place goes awry and they start pummeling each other. Before there’s a clear winner though, Mei-ling breaks up the fight by hosing the trio with water.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Wah’s facilities with its preference of narrow catwalks with railings below waist levels, dangerous machinery exposed openly, typical villain lair stuff.
  • One-Man Army: Wong beats up plenty of mooks by himself in the climax, before Jackie and Tung arrives to assist him. Even when one of the Co-Dragons (Benny Urquidez) manage to disable him with one kick, Wong simply Do Not Go Gentle.
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: Jackie lose the trust of both his friends Wong and Tung, since they end up believing he’s manipulating them for his own benefits. But all three of them eventually made up in time for the final battle.
  • Railing Kill: The Big Bad, Wah is finally finished off when Wong manage to subdue him with his own drugs and drop him into a deep pool in his own drug-producing machinery, for a Disney Villain Death.
  • Real Men Cook: Jackie is shown to be quite a decent chef, spending one scene with Mei-ling in her kitchen.
  • Romantic Candlelit Dinner: Spoofed in the date between Jackie and May-ling. Wong and Tung are both trying to install their respective bugs while hiding from being noticed by each other, and Jackie didn’t expect both of them to show up in the same night. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Rube Goldberg Device: Tung inexplicably had one of this in his living room, apparently meant for transporting his fish from one aquarium to another. The movie never explains this.
  • Shout-Out: Hua Hsien-Wu’s introduction scene at the start of the movie, where his bodyguards kill off a rival mob boss and leaves an enemy underling alive, at which point where Hua tells the underling to come work for him instead, is a clear reference to Scarface (1983).
  • Slogan-Yelling Megaphone Guy: Parodied, Wong uses a megaphone to yell his Anguished Declaration of Love to Yip.
  • So Much for Stealth: For the climax, Wong sneaks into Hua’s hideout with a microcamera, and starts taking photos of Hua’s laboratory with their drug-producing facilities and equipment, until he noticed through the camera that Hua’s scientists and staff have suddenly stopped working. He then lowers his camera and noticed ALL enemy mooks are looking at him. Oh, Crap! indeed…
  • Staircase Tumble: The fate of several mooks when Jackie fights them on the higher decks of an ocean liner.
  • Wrench Whack: Wong receives a hit to the forehead by a wrench held by Yip, who’s pissed off at him. But when she noticed he’s bleeding and not retaliating at all, her response quickly turns into My God, What Have I Done?