Back in 1985 Golden Harvest Films, the Hong Kong film company that started Bruce Lee’s film career, was trying to push their latest star Jackie Chan into the American market. They tried in 1980 with The Big Brawl but it bombed at the box office. So in 1985 they tried again with The Protector. James Glickenhaus was brought in to write and direct the film.
James Glickenhaus’ biggest film at the time was The Exterminator, a 1980 film about a Vietnam vet who becomes a vigilante. That turned out to be a career high point for Glickenhaus. Other than couple more mediocre action films he never contributed much to the world of film before he retired.
The Protector cast Jackie Chan as a New York cop. After his partner is killed during a robbery, Chan gets a new partner, Danny Aiello. They come across a kidnapping that leads them to Hong Kong where they fight drug dealers and try to save the kidnapped victim.
The film is not a typical Jackie Chan film. It has very little kung fu fighting and none of Chan’s innovative stunt work. It’s just a standard cop thriller. Lots of shooting and a bit of random nudity. Chan hated working on the film and he disliked Glickenhaus. Once production was done, Chan re-edited the film, cut out the nudity and shot new footage for the Hong Kong release including a new sub-plot and an extended fight at the end.
The movie bombed at the box office. When asked about the film Glickenhaus said at the time “Well, you know that’s still the most successful Jackie Chan movie internationally and always will be because the American audience, the mainstream audience will never sit still for Jackie’s style of action”.
The one good thing that came out from the film was that Chan decided to make a better cop movie which he shot and released in 1985 too, Police Story.
Shout Factory recently released The Protector on DVD and Blu-ray along with another Jackie Chan film Crime Story. The cool thing about the Blu-ray is that Shout Factory has included both versions of The Protector, the original and Chan’s Asian cut.