Jackie Chan has tended to make martial arts movies that use every opportunity to bring out the humour and slapstick. While he was making a name for himself in Asia, he was often playing some trainee fighter who would make comical mistakes en route to becoming a master. Then, when he started to become known in mainstream western film circles beyond just a cult figure, we started to see him perform outlandish stunts on his way to becoming a high profile star. The Rush Hour films saw Chan again play up the humour opposite funnyman Chris Tucker and whenever he’s beating up the bad guys, he’s tended to use all manner of objects at hand to clobber them: vases, pots, doors and even 10-foot ladders have been used to win fights. More recently he’s featured in family-friendly fare such as Around the World in 80 Days and the Forbidden Kingdom opposite fellow martial arts expert Jet Li, but Robin-B-Hood (Bo bui gai wak) is perhaps his most fluffy role to date. In true high-concept family movie fashion that saw Hulk Hogan become a nanny, Arnie look after a kindergarten and The Rock become a tooth fairy, Robin-B-Hood sees Chan landed looking after a baby in a stunt-filled crime caper with hints of Three Men and a Baby.
Chan plays Fong, an acrobatic burglar and skilled safe-cracker. His relatively uncomplicated life of crime is quickly turned upside down when he and his partners in crime, Landlord (Hui) and Octopus (Koo), accept a mysterious kidnapping assignment from an eccentric underworld tycoon. When that kidnapping unexpectedly turns out to involve a baby, the criminals turn heroes when they seek to return the child to safety – but that means evading the cops, fending off the mob and cleaning dirty nappies.
The baby scenes take every opportunity to go for the gross out moments or typical scenes where men can’t handle the most basic of childcare issues, and for that Hui and Chan make a fine pairing of bumbling oafs reduced to a whimper whenever the baby needs attention. The stunts are above average for a Chan movie too – there’s enough of his clowning around mixed with hard-hitting action to keep his more purist fight fans happy between the baby scenes. Less clear is the story line though – at times you’ll wonder exactly why people are taking certain actions, and it’s not obvious why there’s an elusion to Robin Hood in the title, though there is some sentiment there thanks to a subplot of Fong learning to value his family along the way to saving the baby from falling into the wrong hands. Perhaps the best way of describing Robin-B-Hood is as an “odd” choice for Chan, resembling a B-movie from earlier in his career.
Yet the B-movie element is what gives Robin-B-Hood its charm: the actors ham up their performances to align with the cheesy script and there’s a terrible English-dubbed soundtrack that adds to the kitsch value. While it’s not Chan’s finest film, it’s definitely one of his funniest whether its completely intentional or not.
AKA Bo bui gai wak
Last modified on