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The Protector (1985 film)

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The Protector (1985 film)

The Protector
Film poster of the US version
Directed by James Glickenhaus
Produced by David Chan
Shek Hong-chan
Raymond Chow
Leonard Ho
Written by James Glickenhaus
Edward Tang
Starring Jackie Chan
Danny Aiello
Roy Chiao
Moon Lee
Peter Yang
Music by Ken Thorne
Cinematography Chang Yao-chu
Mark Irwin
Johnny Koo
Jimmy Leung
Ardy Lam
Gary Hoh
Edited by Yao Chung-chang
Evan A. Lottman
Barbara Minor
Peter Cheung
Distributed by Golden Harvest (Hong Kong)
Warner Bros. (USA)
Release dates
  • July 11, 1985 (1985-07-11) (Hong Kong)
  • August 23, 1985 (1985-08-23) (U.S.)
Running time
91 minutes
Country Hong Kong
United States
Language Cantonese
Box office Hong Kong:
HK$13,917,612 [1]
United States:

The Protector (Chinese: 威龍猛探) is a 1985 Hong Kong-American action film directed by James Glickenhaus, and starring Jackie Chan, Danny Aiello and Roy Chiao. It was Chan's second attempt at breaking into the American film market, after 1980 film The Big Brawl, a film which had been a disappointment at the box office. Conflicts between Glickenhaus and Chan during production led to two official versions of the film: Glickenhaus' original version for American audiences and a Hong Kong version re-edited by Jackie Chan. Chan later directed Police Story as a response to this film.


  • Plot 1
    • US version 1.1
    • Hong Kong version 1.2
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
  • Version comparison 4
    • Scenes in the US 4.1
    • Scenes in Hong Kong 4.2
      • Massage parlour 4.2.1
      • Boat and dock area 4.2.2
      • Drug lab and warehouse 4.2.3
    • Changes to content 4.3
  • Reception 5
  • Box office 6
  • Home Media 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


US version

A gang is attempting to steal computers from an 18 wheeler. One of the gang members remotely hacks a set of traffic lights, turning them to red, while other members of the gang rig chains to the back of the truck. They turn the light green again, and as the truck pulls away, the chains tear the door open. When the trucker goes to the rear of his truck to investigate, he is knocked unconscious by a gang member, who then whistles for his cohorts to steal the load. Meanwhile, New York police officers Billy Wong (Jackie Chan) and Michael Alexander (Patrick James Clarke) are patrolling the neighborhood. On the radio, a dispatcher says that a truck was stripped by their premises, so the cops check it out. As the trucker comes to, he sees that his cargo has been stolen. Michael radios in the crime, while Billy passes the driver his hat, saying, "Welcome to New York".

Later, the two cops are in a bar. Billy Wong goes to the bathroom while Michael Alexander orders another round. Outside, a gang plan to rob the bar, unaware of the cops inside. They charge in busting the door and start roughing up the customers and gathering them by the till. Billy, still in the bathroom, has heard the commotion. The gang forces the customers to stand by the register, while one member tries to open the locked bathroom. Gun drawn, he breaks down the door, but Billy has overhead everything and shoots the gangster four times before he can make the shot.

Michael pulls out his own gun, killing another gangster, but is then shot by the two remaining gang members. Billy leaps and fires, killing one gangster, sending him flying through the bar window. The fourth gangster escapes. Billy approaches Michael, who asks, with his dying words, that Billy find the last gangster. Billy chases the last gang member to the marina across town. The gangster commandeers a yacht, so Billy gets the keys to the fastest speedboat from the boat boy. The captain orders Billy to let the harbor police catch the thief, but Billy refuses and speeds off. He calls an air unit who arrive on the scene and hoist him a line. Billy grabs onto the line, and lets his speedboat run into the henchman's boat, destroying both.

After attending a ceremonial funeral held for Michael, Billy gets back to crowd control. He goes to a party undercover with his new partner, Danny Garoni (Danny Aiello), where they see Benny Garrucci (Bill "Superfoot" Wallace), one of the bodyguards to Martin Shapiro (Ron Dandrea). A kidnapping has taken place, and nobody knows why. They later learn that crime boss Harold Ko (Roy Chiao) may have smuggled Shapiro's daughter, Laura (Saun Ellis), to Hong Kong for ransom. The men get a lead – Garrucci has made calls to a massage parlor.

While investigating, they get massages, but Billy sees a reflection of his masseuse pulling out a knife so he jumps, kicking her in the face and throws a lamp at the other masseurs. Billy and Garoni fight off the remaining clientele, before getting questioned by the leader of the massage parlour.

They go to Lee Hing (Peter Yang), to cash in a coin. A man named Stan Jones (Kim Bass) gets on the boat, asking for supplies. Stan warns Billy and Garoni they are being followed and Billy goes to get information from the leader. The leader throws a knife at him and escapes onto another boat. Billy and Garoni head back to their hotel, finding cash in a suitcase on the bed. They are attacked by two men, but manage to kill them. They make their exit and are taken to the police station in Hong Kong.

Garoni follows Garrucci to a drug laboratory, while Billy sees Hing's tortured and murdered body on his sunken boat. They go to a Buddhist priest who tells them what they are looking for. Billy, Garoni and Stan go to the drug lab, and destroy it, saving Laura Shapiro in the process. Garoni is shot by Garrucci, and is held hostage unless Billy returns Laura to Ko.

They meet at the shipyard and Laura is held hostage along with Garoni. Billy fights with Garrucci and Ko's guards and is eventually about to kill Ko, but Garrucci comes after Billy with a cut-off saw. In the ensuing fight, Garrucci is electrocuted by trying to slice open Billy's head, but missing and hitting an electric panel that he smashed Billy's head on. Ko escapes in a helicopter, and Billy follows after him, but a guard blocks his way. Billy and the guard fight on a cargo lifter half-loaded with boxes, with Billy dodging them. Garoni goes outside with the gang and kills a sniper with a 6-shot 20mm cannon. Billy is shot at, but eventually makes it to the top of a crane and Ko's helicopter gets crushed when Billy drops the crane on the helicopter killing Ko .

With Ko dead and Laura Shapiro saved, Billy and Danny are given a NYPD Medal of Honor.

Hong Kong version

Even though the narrative is the same, the Chinese version has a subplot featuring Sally Yeh in connection to the coin and her uncle working at the massage parlour. A large number of scenes were cut to improve the pace of the film and to cut down on any instances of nudity. Fully dressed lab women were added as a replacement to give more logical sense for the Chinese version. A lot of swearing and American slang has been totally changed to make the story cohesive enough for the story to work for the Chinese audience.

Bill Wallace also has an extra scene outside the ice warehouse against Lee Hoi-san in which it sets him up as a formidable opponent against Jackie Chan later on in the warehouse. The final fight scene is re-edited to make it more of a Hong Kong style. Overall, the script has been cleaned up to make it compatible for Chan's audience, to make it distinctive enough from the US version.[3]


  • Jackie Chan as Billy Wong
  • Danny Aiello as Danny Garoni
  • Moon Lee as Soo Ling
  • Roy Chiao as Harold Ko
  • Peter Yang as Lee Hing
  • Sandy Alexander as Gang Leader
  • Jesse Cameron-Glickenhaus as Jesse Alexander
  • Becky Ann Baker as Samantha Alexander (as Becky Gelke)
  • Kim Bass as Stan Jones
  • Sally Yeh as May Fung Ho / Sally (Hong Kong version)
  • Paul L. Smith sd Mr. Booar (uncredited)
  • Bill Wallace as Benny Garrucci
  • Victor Arnold as Police Captain
  • Shum Wai as massage house manager
  • Irene Britto as Masseuce
  • Ron Dandrea as Martin Shapiro
  • Saun Ellis as Laura Shapiro
  • Lee Hoi-san as Wing (Hong Kong version)
  • Alan Gibbs as Gunman
  • David Ho as David
  • Joe Maruzzo as Marina Attendant (as Joseph Maruzzo)
  • John Spencer as Ko's pilot
  • Mike Starr as Hood (as Michael Starr)
  • James Glickenhaus as Man walking in front of store (uncredited)
  • Joe Wong as Sergeant Chan
  • Kam Bo-wong as Bald Thug (as Kobe Wong)
  • Fung Hak-on as Thug with Ice Pic
  • Wan Faat as Thug
  • Johnny Cheung as Thug
  • Lam Wan-seung as Thug
  • Lee Fat-yuen as Thug
  • Chung Wing as Thug
  • Tai Bo as Thug
  • Patrick James Clarke as Michael
  • John Ladalski as Ko's Van Driver (uncredited)
  • Big John Studd as Huge Hood
  • Robert Mak
  • Mark Cheung


According to his book I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action, Chan broke his hand while filming a stunt scene.[4]

Version comparison

The relationship between James Glickenhaus and Jackie Chan was, according to various sources, highly contentious for most of the production. Chan was appalled at the way Glickenhaus directed the fight scenes, feeling that his methods were sloppy and lacked attention to detail. At one point he offered to direct the fight scenes himself, but Glickenhaus refused. Things became so bad that Chan walked off the set, but was forced to return and finish the film by contractual obligation. However, when preparing the film for release in Hong Kong, Chan completely re-edited the film and shot new footage to both fit his style of film making and remove all content he found objectionable.

The following changes were made by Jackie Chan for the Hong Kong release of the film:

Scenes in the US

  • The orange bearded crook plays with the teddy bear near Michael. (deleted)
  • Billy Wong asks a civilian where the black bearded crook who shot Michael has gone. (added)
  • The black bearded crook climbs over a chain-linked fence. (deleted)
  • Michael's funeral. (deleted)

Scenes in Hong Kong

Massage parlour

  • Extra dialogue between Billy, Danny and the Chinese police chief, and the intro to the massage parlour was shortened for the HK version. In the original US edit, the British HK police chief warns them about their actions and to use discretion, and a native HK police officer tells Bill and Danny about the number they traced to a massage parlor. The HK edit dubs the dialog and shortens the scene so that the chief tells them about the massage parlor.
  • A few short sequences featuring Billy in action in the massage parlour. (deleted in order to make the scene flow better)
  • Billy catches the gun. (slowed down)

Boat and dock area

  • Billy locates Sally Yeh, fights with two guys in a gym and interviews Sally Yeh. (added)
  • Small scene with the African-American on the boat. (deleted)
  • A few scenes when Billy chases Sally Yeh's uncle on the boat. (deleted)
  • The death of Moon Lee's father on the boat. (deleted)
  • Billy's scene with Moon Lee on the boat and buddhist prayer. (deleted)
  • Mr. Ko talks to Benny Garrucci. (replacing a different scene)
  • Mr. Ko's assistant beats Sally Yeh's uncle and plots to kill Billy and Danny. (added)
  • A deep male voice talking to Billy on the phone is replaced by a female voice demanding that he should leave. The original US edit has Billy saying "It's not your money we want, it's your ass." Whereas in the HK edit, he says, "It's not your money we want, it's Laura Shapiro."
  • Benny Garrucci beats up Moon's father and friend. (added)
  • A bomb in Sally Yeh's bedroom, her uncle warns Billy and Sally, the departure of Sally and her uncle. (added)

Drug lab and warehouse

  • A small scene of Bill preparing to shoot someone. (deleted)
  • The fight scene between Billy Wong and Benny Garrucci moves faster and has more close-ups. (re-edited)
  • Benny and Billy fight near a chain-link fence. (added)
  • Billy trying to block the Benny's brass knuckles with a large metal can. (added)
  • Billy smashes a pot over Benny's head. (slowed down)
  • Billy spins a large gear handle to hit Benny in the face. (deleted)
  • The fight between Billy and Mr. Ko's henchmen has more close-ups cut in. (re-edited)
  • Benny Garrucci attacks Billy with a concrete saw. (re-edited)

Changes to content

  • All cursing has been excised and American slang replaced. The HK edit dubs all of the English dialog without properly translating the cursing, often dubbing it over to say something almost completely different.
  • All nudity with women has been excised, with the drug lab re-shot to show fully dressed lab workers.
  • The score is slightly different.


The movie had a mixed to negative reception when it was released in the United States in 1985.[5][6]

In an interview by Hong Kong film expert Bey Logan with James Glickenhaus held before Chan achieved mainstream success with American audiences, Logan mentioned that many of his fans were disappointed with the movie. An unfazed Glickenhaus responded "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".[7]

Andrew Staton who reviewed the movie agree with Jackie for a few reasons. Allowing Jackie to direct the action scenes is important because of his knowledge of movie making rather than the typical, slow prodding and predictable method that Hollywood used to at the time. Having nudity, especially at the drug lab makes no sense. Why do women working on melons don't dress the same as men in that scene is appalling. So it was deleted and replaced for the HK release for that reason. However, despite the flaws, Jackie's darker role as an actor, will be used in later Hong Kong films like "Heart of Dragon" and "Crime Story". Those later serious films, apart from the Lo Wei serious movies, will help establish Jackie that he's an all round actor and is not restricted to playing comedic roles.[8]

John J Puccio comments that "Chan's charm is in precious little evidence and his martial-arts stunts are limited to a few jumps and spills. Without Chan's contributions, the film is nothing more than a clichéd, wannabe thriller". He points out that "The Protector" isn't just badly written; it's uniformly awful all the way around. The acting is mechanical; the action is gratuitous; the pacing is humdrum; and the background music is trite and redundant.[9]

Box office

In North America, The Protector was a box office disaster, making only US $981,817. Chan's re-edited version grossed HK $13,917,612 in Hong Kong, a respectable sum, but significantly less than any of Chan's domestic films at the time.

Home Media

  • Warner Bros. released their U.S Version on DVD, VHS, & Laserdisc.
  • Shout! Factory released The Protector on DVD and Blu-ray as part of a double feature with Crime Story on January 15, 2013.[10]

See also


  1. ^ The Protector at the Hong Kong Movie DataBase
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^  
  5. ^ "The Protector". Variety. December 31, 1984. Retrieved November 3, 2010. 
  6. ^ Pareles, Jon (August 24, 1985). "SCREEN: 'THE PROTECTOR,' FEATURING JACKIE CHAN".  
  7. ^ Logan, Bey (1985 (film), 2001 (DVD)).  
  8. ^ Staton, Andrew (1985 (film), 2008 (DVD)). The Protector (audio commentary) (DVD).  
  9. ^
  10. ^

External links

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