The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, January 15, 1997 - 9
'Martial master Chan strikes back
By Julia Shih
Daily Arts Writer
Move aside, Arnold! There's a new accent ...
er, action star in town and his name is Jackie.
Bursting into a theater near you, "First Strike"
Ocaptivates audiences using less explosions than
your average action flick,
and provides more laughs
than all of the recent come-
dies put together.
The film stars Chan as a
named Jackie (like Rambo, At E
no last name is necessary),
who is assigned to follow a suspect from Hong
Kong to the Ukraine. Unfortunately, the suspect
leads him to Australia, where he is tangled in a
web of deceit involving a corrupt CIA agent, the
Russian Mafia and a couple of hungry Great
The movie's believability runs thin on many
occasions. For example, would it really be that
hard in real life to notice a Chinese man follow-
ing you if you were a CIA agent in the middle of
the Ukraine? Probably not, but this isn't real life.
This is a Jackie Chan movie, and we're just here
for the stunts.
Though short on plot, "First Strike" is heavy
on entertainment, as Chan proves that all the
hype surrounding him is justified.
The three aspects of Jackie Chan that make
him superior to other comedians are his exper-
tise at verbal comedy, his incredible talent in
physical comedy and his ability to combine mar-
tial arts with humor. And don't forget he does his
own stunts. This superman
is absolutely one of a kind
~ V I E W when it comes to premium
First Strike entertainment.
In "First Strike," Chan is
** at his best. In his usual
arwood and Showcase Buster-Keaton-meets-
Bruce-Lee fashion, he saves
the day while keeping the audience rolling on
the ground with laughter. Some highlights
include Jackie chasing down the bad guys while
wearing a ridiculously cute seal hat, and a sus-
penseful underwater fight scene involving
sharks and pure slapstick.
The best testosterone-pleasing fight scene
occurs in a funeral parlor, where Jackie,
armed merely with a folding ladder, fights off
a horde of stick-wielding men. The stunts in
this sequence are utterly amazing, and after
seeing all that Chan can do, you can't help but
think of Stallone and Schwarzenegger as
If you haven't become a believer in Jackie's
abilities by the end of the movie, you'd better
stick around for the traditional bloopers seg-
ment. People will be amazed to see what he has
to go through in order to bring his masterpieces
to the screen. Only Jackie Chan could take a
hard blow to the nose by a wooden stick, and still
smile and give a thumbs-up sign to the camera.
These outtakes scream, "Don't try this at home!"
to every ambitious child (and adult) in the audi-
Jackie Chan is not the only comedic force
behind "First Strike." The film is directed by
Stanley Tong and was written by Greg Mellot,
Elliot Tong, Stanley Tong and Nick
Tramontane. This team apparently worked well
together, as they have put together a film that is
focused and fresh. So much of the humor comes
from the hilarious dialogue between characters
and the clever editing that Chan is never with-
However, some things that the filmmakers
could have paid more attention to include char-
acter development and a better plot. The other
characters are pretty much insignificant
throughout the movie, and the plot seems over-
simplified. Audiences may even feel a bit cheat-
ed in the end, as the movie is cut short before the
story really develops into anything. But with
Jackie Chan stars in "First Strike."
Chan's overbearing presence, and the purpose of
this movie being mainly to deliver mindless fun,
it doesn't really matter.
Also, originally in a mixture of English,
Cantonese and Mandarin, "First Strike" is voice-
dubbed which can be a bit distracting and even
silly at times, as the actors' mouths are some-
times not synchronized with the voices. But
audiences shouldn't let this technicality take
away from their enjoyment of this film.
"First Strike" is a movie that delivers laugh
after laugh faster than you can catch your breath.
It's a hilarious and exhilarating ride through the
Ukraine and Australia, with martial arts and
comedy expert Jackie Chan as your tour guide.
Its quick pace and stream of action never leave a
dull moment, and by the end, the-audience will
be screaming for more.
So take a bow, Jackie! America and the rest of
the world loves you.
Kwest tha Madd Lad not interested in hype or the business
By Eugene Bowen
Daily Arts Writer
Even before we spoke, I knew this
was going to be an interesting inter-
view. He called me collect from a pay
phone in a New York subway. A self-
proclaimed "struggling, starving artist,"
he didn't have a phone.
"The subway station's my second
home' he said. "Most of my album was
thought up beneath the ground. When I
get stressed about something I grab a
token, a walkman and a couple of beats,
and hop on the train and ride back and
forth. It's an escape. Don't nobody
know you. You can just chill out and be
I'm talking with 25-year-old Thomas
St. John, a.k.a. Kwest tha Madd Lad. A
native of Queens, N.Y., Kwest's debut
rap album, "This Is My First Album"
(American), dropped last year.
"I been trying to work this album to
the best of my ability," he said. "It's sur-
prising me a lot, because people like
this shit, and I don't. Some of the mate-
rial on there is like two or three years
0old. I don't even rhyme like that now. If
I could do the album over, it would be
flipped a lot better."
It's not everyday that an artist states
publicly that he hates his album. But
then again, Kwest is no everyday artist.
He's a New Yorker. And he's not one to
mince words about his scorn for
"For somebody to be on a label for
four years and to be just droppin' their
first album, that
shit is not fresh,
too much. It
into rock 'n'
metal and alter-
native shit than
hip hop. I just
gotta do what I
gotta do and
hope the public
receives it well.
But me being a
fan of this and
me knowing all
the potential I
got, I can't see
myself liking .
some shit that
out two years This is Kwest tha Ma
Kwest can't remember a day in his
life when he wasn't hooked on New
York's underground scene. Raised in a
single-parent household, Kwest's focus
during his childhood and teen years was
formal education.He attended Syracuse
University, but after his sophomore year
became disappointed and disinterested
in the system
out. "I felt
4- 7like I was
money to take
taught stuff I
or could teach
rap shit was
never a 'get
paid' thing. It
a b o u t
art form, tak-
ing it where
' been. I ain't
dd Lad. got no money,
-- and honestly,
I don't even want to make millions. I
just wanna make sure I'm livin' com-
fortable. And everybody that was in my
corner since day one, I wanna make
sure they're taken care of.
"Ya know, I used to smile all the time,
but then I got into the music industry
and realized shit ain't funny. I was naive
when I first started. I didn't know too
much about the business. I was just one
of those newbies anxious to be put on.
I'm tellin' you, the business end of this
is a motherfucker. It's based on trickery,
deception and the people trying to milk
all they can out of you. And they know
there's a thousand niggas ready to take
the place of whoever falls off, so they
don't give a fuck. It's dog eat dog. To us
starving performers, it's a deal gone
sour. But to them, everything's a tax
While he may seem angry at times,
Kwest admits that he's a rather paci-
fistic guy, saying: "Why everybody
gotta play hardcore today, man? C'mon,
keep the stone face for Stonehenge.
"Safe sex is a priority, yo. Oh yeah, I
got a fetish for some booty. I have a
female fetish that just won't quit, but it's
not like all the bitch / ho shit. I'm not
into calling women that, 'cause I love
"First off, if it wasn't for a woman, I
wouldn't be here, and I wouldn't have
been raised right. No. 2, 1 find that I can
talk to a female easier than I can talk to
a nigga. Usually when you talk to guys
it's about who they got a beef with, and
I ain't into that. I'm not one of those kids
who'd go out and start some shit just to
say I did it. But women always seem to
cool; so I can relate to them better. And
No. 3 is the obvious one. God bless the
female body; it's the greatest shit there
ever was. It can bring up empires and
and then bring 'em down. But I'm not
planning on ever getting married unless
somebody suckers me into it. Whoever I
marry gotta have mad money or their
shit gotta spit out gold."
But, considering some of his groom-
ing habits, many women would be more
than happy to leave Kwest marriage-
"I don't be combing my hair all the
time," he said. "I brush my teeth every
once in a while. I wash my ass, but I
ain't worried about all this image hype.
I let people know, what you see and
what you feel is what you get."
And feeling, in Kwest's mind, is what
it's all about. While "This Is My First
Album" may not be getting the mad
attention it deserves, Kwest remains
happy. He may not have the throngs of
loyal supporters that a Method Man
has. But he knows that those who do
feel him on his album will support him
from the heart.
"My stuff may not be blowing up
superstar style, but people are receiving
it well. That makes me feel good. I don't
get no swelled head. I just get this hot-
ass feeling, because this is some dream-
come-true shit. Because before I was an
artist, I always was, and always wili be."
By Giving Us Your OpiniQt
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first meeting on 1/17/97 at Betsey
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