Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Goodness this movie was long. I mean I just got through watching Jackie Chan’s ‘The Myth’ last week which was pretty long too but that movie was trying to be epic with scenes in ancient China and CGI and people floating on air and whatnot. ‘Rob B. Hood’ however was just your typical Jackie Chan nonsense stretched out to close to two and half hours! Usually by the time the Weinstein’s and Dragon Dynasty gets a hold of these Asian imports they hack and whack the movie until its damn near unrecognizable from its original iteration, which I despise, but damn where were those brain dead and blind editors when I needed them? THIS movie they choose to release in its unedited glory. Oh, and I chose not to enable the subtitles simply as an experiment to see how well I could grasp a movie in it’s native language with absolutely no assistance. I chose this one because I figured it would be simple enough, and it was simple enough to grasp but damn was it long.

Thong (Chan) and Octopus (Louis Koo) are a couple of never do well safe crackers working for the sight challenged Landlord (Michael Hui). This particular safe they are cracking happens to be in a hospital and this is relevant because it provides some extended Chan-esque madcap stunt action as this pair of thieves tries to get away, but more importantly while Thong and Octopus are trying to avoid campus security a young woman and her wealthy husband have just had a baby that has been kidnapped by this woman’s ex-boyfriend swearing that the baby is his. Tragedy strikes as the young man dies in a fall and the baby would have perished as well if it were not saved by Thong, but this does allow the pair to getaway and proceed with their personally destructive lives. Thong is a compulsive gambler in debt to every loan shark in the city and is the shame of his father and family. Octopus overspends trying to buy his way into the heart of a rich woman, but he already has a wife or a girlfriend or something in Bak Yin (Charlene Choi) that he neglects greatly. Landlord has a crazy wife who carries around a baby doll since I’m assuming the pair must have lost a child some time ago. Landlord also keeps his loot locked away in a safe by the bed which ends up getting robbed.

So all three dudes need loot and Landlord gets them a sweet gig which unbeknownst to the other two involves kidnapping the child that they saved at the hospital. Circumstance leads to Thong and Octopus having to care for the child by themselves while they wait for Landlord to get out of jail to seal the deal. Seems the gangster father of the young man who died at the hospital wants the child for himself or something. Now the movie goes ‘Three Men and a Baby’ on us with the two criminals having to learn how to take care of babies, changing diapers, playing with doo doo, and all other kinds of cute baby crap while of course trying to avoid the bad people who want the baby, want money from Thong and the police who want to throw both criminals in jail. I should also mention the pretty nurse Melody (YuanYuan Gao) who is all things baby and has caught Thongs kidnapping criminalistic gambling eye. Needless to say more mayhem and chaos will ensue as our kidnapping safecrackers find the real meaning of… something nobler than kidnapping and safecracking.

Considering my Cantonese is a little rusty I think I did okay deciphering what was going on in this movie. Watching ‘Lust, Caution’ without the aid of subtitles might have been a bit of an issue but I don’t think there was a whole lot of subtlety that was missed in the dialog of ‘Rob B. Hood’. Language barrier aside ‘Rob B. Hood’ is what it is in that it’s a typical Jackie Chan movie with lots of amazing acrobatics, cool fight scenes, complicated unbelievable stunts, the one in particular when he jumps from the top of an apartment building to the street using the units window air conditioners as stop points was one of his best ever. That man is just plain nuts. I suppose the thing that makes this movie a little different from Mr. Chan’s previous efforts is that he does play someone who isn’t of the most pristine character. Not that Thong was a ‘bad guy’ by any stretch but just your typical slightly misguided soul with a heart of gold under all of those bad decisions. I also suppose Chan does a little more acting in this one as there is a fairly emotional scene between he, Koo and the baby. I can’t say enough about that baby because it’s like the cutest baby in the history movies. Just the cutest little thing.

If there is a problem with the movie it is that the narrative is a bit derivative, from what I could derive without the crutch of subtitles, Jackie Chan does do some spectacular stuff, but unfortunately we’re so used to it now there’s almost nothing the poor man can do wow us anymore and, of course, the movie was just way too long. I mean this thing just went on forever and the movie wasn’t so good that that the time just ‘flew by’. No sir, you were feeling that length as the movie dragged on and on and on.

If they could have shaved forty minutes off this thing, and I’m thinking it wouldn’t have been all that hard, this probably would have been a thrill-a-minute ride and probably one the better popcorn films Chan has ever made but the excessive length doesn’t do ‘Rob B. Hood’ any favors as it drops from the ‘really good’ range to merely the ‘not so bad’ range.

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