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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

The Prisoner (1990)

(aka: When Dragons Meet)



Reviews and Comments

Don't be fooled by promotional materials for this film. Jackie Chan isn't in a starring role here -- he's one of an ensemble cast, which also includes Samo Hung, known to western audiences as the star of the television series Martial Law.

If you're not expecting a Jackie Chan martial arts adventure, this is not bad. Several plot threads are woven together in a gritty and often dismal prison flick. The threads wind together at the end, when a conspiracy amongst the prison wardens is exposed.

There is a lot to like here. I particularly liked Hung's character and his story, which provides some comic relief in places that desperately need it. Ultimately, however, I was unsatisfied. Had the film given itself over to straight escapism, I'd have been happy. Had the film abstained from it, I'd have been happier. But as is, it's a film that tries to get inside the hearts of its characters and infuse a fantastical crime plot, complete with sadistic masterminding villains and shoot-outs. The hybrid doesn't work.