31 Days of Action: Day 20 - Robin B Hood

I knew I had to cover at least one Jackie Chan movie during this marathon but when I started looking through his filmography, I realized I’m better versed in his movies than I originally thought. I’ve seen a good deal of his early works, including many of the ones people consider to be his classics. I certainly wasn’t about to jump into shit like The Tuxedo or The Medallion so I eventually found this one – Robin B Hood, made in 2006. The idea of Jackie Chan looking after a baby didn’t sound terribly appealing but the blu ray was 4 dollars and I figured fuck it, why not.

First off, I have no idea why the movie is called Robin B Hood. Yes Chan’s character is a thief and he does indeed steal shit, but he doesn’t then give it to the poor. He just keeps that shit for himself. So the title doesn’t really make sense at all. So Chan plays Thongs and his partner is Octopus, two thieves who are hired to steal a baby in order to deliver him to his apparent grandfather, a crime boss who is more than a little out of his mind. However they can’t deliver the baby right away for reasons I already forgot so instead they are going to have to look after him for a few days. What?! That’s crazy! These two thieves can’t look after a baby! What do they know about baby looking afterness?! They’re thieves! Don’t they know babies shit a lot?! This will be crazy! Silly naïve thieves.

Carrying on a tradition I’ve noticed in a lot of Jackie Chan’s Hong Kong films, Chan plays kind of an asshole. It really hit home recently when watching his older stuff that his characters really are dicks quite often. They talk shit, treat their girlfriends/wives like garbage, and just generally aren’t the best people. Here, he is a little better as yes he is a compulsive gambler who is $100,000 in debt and is estranged from his family, but he seems to at least be trying to be a better person in a few scenes. His partner Octopus however, is absolutely the womanizing asshole character. He is constantly cheating on his adorable wife, disparaging her any chance that he gets. In the first scene they have together, he gives her a bunch of shit about her job and her appearance, and then when he finds out she’s pregnant, he demands that she get an abortion before driving off and leaving her alone. What a charming fellow! If only a random baby would come into their lives and teach these guys an impotant lesson about their selfish ways.

Oh shit one totally does! It’s then we are treated to all of the usual jokes you would expect when two inexperienced dudes are trying to look after a baby. Lots of jokes about how babies shit a lot (and quite graphic jokes as well, there is lots of shit on screen for good chunks of this movie) or how they don’t know how to feed it or what products to buy, etc. It’s all humour you’ve seen countless times before and while there is an occasional laugh to be had (I quite enjoyed a small bit where Octopus sits down next to Thongs without the baby, take’s a moment’s pause, then gets back up and takes the baby out of the fridge, hoping nobody noticed), it’s a lot of the same jokes movies and TV have been throwing at us for decades now. The biggest laugh may actually be the blatant Pepsi product placement. I’ll forgive having two big bottles of Pepsi in the foreground, but randomly having it spray painted on a wall takes things a ridiculous step too far.

While comedy does get the larger focus here, there is still some quality Jackie Chan action. Since this one is from 2006, you can tell Jackie is being assisted far more than in the past. There is some clear wire work, some green screen and I believe a good number of instances where stunt doubles were being used. However at this point Chan was about 52 years old so it would be unfair to expect him to do the things he did when he was younger. That’s not to say his work here isn’t still impressive as he is still more than capable of making even the smallest stunts look awesome. Plus there are still some good action highlights like a quick fight on a trampoline and of course one that involves using a number of baby-related items. Still though, for a movie with a running time of over 2 hours, you can’t help but wish there had bit just a little more action peppered throughout.

So Robin B Hood doesn’t excel at comedy and has some pretty good action; however there is one other genre it dabbles in – drama. This is probably where it succeeds the least. A moment where Thongs and Octopus are sad to have the baby taken away is expected but wow do they ever try and wring a whole lot out of it here. It goes on and on and of course they also have the extended scene where they think the baby is dead. There are also sub plots about Octopus and his wife, as well as Thongs and his father and how the protagonists need to learn to cherish those relationships and repair the damage they’ve caused. These moments didn’t work for me and it’s not a knock against the performers who do an admirable job, it’s simply that they ring forced and false. It makes the movie feel overstuffed and a part of me wishes they had ditched some of this stuff to make for a breezier run time.

Robin B Hood ranks somewhere in the middle of Jackie Chan’s overall work. It certainly can’t compete against classics such as The Legend of Drunken Master and Police Story, but I would rank it up above things like the latter Rush Hour movies and of course things like The Spy Next Door. Even still, I would only recommend it to Chan fans that have exhausted most of the other movies in his body of work.