The Killer Meteors
AKA: Karate Death Squad, Jackie Chan Versus Wang Yu
Year of release: 1976
Genre: martial arts
Director: Lo Wei
Action director: Chan San-Yat
Producer: Lo Wei
Writer: Ku Long
Cinematography: Chan Chung-Yuen, Chan Ching-Kui
Editing: Kwok Ting-Hung
Music: Stanley Chow
Stars: Jimmy Wang Yu, Jackie Chan, Lee Man-Tai, Ma Cheung, Phillip Ko, Ma Kei, Lee Si-Si, Chan Wai-Lau, Lily Lan
Rated II for violence
Movie Review Index
Notable as being one of the few times Jackie Chan has portrayed a villain, 1976's The Killer Meteors also holds promise, as it stars the legendary Jimmy Wang Yu. But, alas, under the lackadaisical direction of Lo Wei, even the matchup of Chan and Wang Yu can't save this from becoming just another average entry in the long line of cheap 70's kung fu movies Hong Kong produced.
The titular Killer Meteors are a deadly weapon employed by Mei Sin Her (Jimmy Wang Yu), a mercenary employed by Wa Wu-Bin (Jackie Chan) to kill his wife, Lady Tempest (Lee Si-Si), in order to get the antidote to the poison she put into him. After going through Lady Tempest's group of four deadly bodyguards, Mei gains the antidote, but soon finds out Wa's been hiding ulterior motives as to why he was hired for the mission in the first place.
Though The Killer Meteors is billed as a Jackie Chan movie, his role is only a relatively small one, basically bookending the film. And we also see very little of Chan's typical flair and energy. At this point in his career, Chan had not come across his trademark persona; that would come a couple of years later with Snake in the Eagle's Shadow and Drunken Master. So, for most intents and purposes, you probably could have thrown any number of martial arts actors into Chan's role here and gotten much of the same results.
Jimmy Wang Yu also seems totally disinterested in the proceedings, basically just sleepwalking through his role. It doesn't help that Lo Wei's film-making techniques fail to inspire any true excitement. Case in point: Lady Tempest's bodyguards are purported to be the best warriors in the land, yet Mei goes through them literally within two minutes, not even having to employ his secret weapon. Like the movie as a whole, the scene is just going through the motions, showing that this is a really a release that only die-hard Jackie Chan completists should track down to watch, and even then, they should be going in with appropriately lowered expectations.