In the final fight sequence, which lasts for seven minutes and took four months to shoot, Jackie Chan (who did his own stunts) crawls over actual burning coals. The version that makes it into the final edit is the second time he did this as he wasn’t happy with the first version.
It’s martial arts, and it’s good. Our hero of dubious quality from Drunken Master returns. He is still headstrong, insolent and disrespectful. Huh. Maybe knowing kung fu didn’t make him a better person after all. This time not only is he still struggling to reconcile his volatile relationship with his father, but the British are also stealing cultural artefacts. Yeah, we did that. A lot. In loads of countries. Sorry, everyone, especially if we haven’t given them back.
I also wanted to talk briefly about the hero’s stepmum, played by Anita Mui. She is a real female hero in the context of a very strict society. She gambles. She knows kung fu. At one point, when urged to ‘think about her condition’, she replies along the lines of ‘what condition? I’m only pregnant’. Anita herself died at the age 40, due to cervical cancer. There’s a quote on her IMDB biography page that says:
Instant shining is not eternity. Show business is a hard life. I wonder how many people will remember me after I leave the business for good. My hope is that when they feel bored and look at the stars in the sky, people will think of my name.