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The Protector (1985 film)

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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 date
  • 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 Summary

US version

New York police officers Billy Wong (Jackie Chan) and Michael Alexander (Patrick James Clarke) are patrolling a New York City neighborhood one night. After their patrol, they decide to have a drink at a bar. Wong goes to the bathroom while Alexander orders another round. Outside, a gang plans 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. Wong, still in the bathroom, has heard the commotion. He shoots dead one of the gangsters who breaks into the bathroom, and Michael shoots another gangster before he can kill Billy, but is then shot by the two remaining gang members. Wong kills the third gangster, and the fourth gangster escapes. Billy chases the last gang member to the marina across town. The gangster commandeers a yacht, so Billy forces a marina at gunpoint to give him the keys to the fastest boat. The captain orders Billy to let the harbor police catch the thief, but Billy refuses and speeds off. He calls an air unit who arrives on the scene and hoist him a line. Billy grabs onto the line, and lets his speedboat run into the gangster's boat, destroying both and killing the gangster.

Billy is scolded by his captain (Victor Arnold) for disobeying a direct order and for causing an explosion in the harbor, and is then demoted to crowd control. He goes to a fashion show party undercover, hosted by a Laura Shapiro (Saun Ellis), the daughter of a locally known gangster Martin Shapiro. At the party, he meets his new partner, Danny Garoni (Danny Aiello), who has also been demoted due to claims of police brutality. In the middle of the fashion show, masked gangsters armed with machine guns storm in and kidnap Laura Shapiro, and nobody knows why. They later learn that crime boss Harold Ko (Roy Chiao) and Martin Shapiro are suspected of smuggling drugs from Hong Kong to New York, and that Ko may have kidnapped Laura and taken her to Hong Kong for ransom. The men get a lead – Shapiro's bodyguard Benny Garrucci (Bill "Superfoot" Wallace) has made several calls to a Hong Kong massage parlor.

Wong and Garoni go to Hong Kong and investigate the massage parlor. While there, they get massages, but Billy notices that the masseuses are trying to kill them. Billy and Garoni fight off the remaining massage parlor employees, before they are cornered and held at gunpoint by the parlor manager. The manager questions them, revealing that he knows they are cops, and then threatens to kill them. However, Garoni and Wong overpower him and his men, and leave the parlor.

The next day, Wong and Garoni go to see Lee Hing (Peter Yang) on his boat, and show him Tin Ho's coin to gain his trust. However, Hing is reluctant to give any information, noting that he retired. A man named Stan Jones (Kim Bass) gets on the boat, and warns Wong and Garoni they are being followed by the massage parlor manager and his men. Garoni, Jones and Wong easily get rid of the other gangsters, then Wong pursues the parlor manager to get more information, and almost catches him but fails. After witnessing this, Lee Hing agrees to help them, telling the cops to come back the next day after he gets information from various contacts about Ko.

Wong and Garoni head back to their hotel, finding cash in a suitcase on the bed. Ko then calls them, telling them to take the money and leave Hong Kong at once. During the phone call, they are attacked by Ko's men, and the cops manage to kill them, but not before one of the gangsters sets off a grenade in a suicide attempt to kill them. They are taken to the police station in Hong Kong, where they are scolded by the Royal Hong Kong Police chief superintendent Whitehead (Richard Clarke) for the ruckus. Whitehead refuses to believe that Ko was behind the most recent attack, and tells the cops about Ko's charitable reputation in Hong Kong, informing them that at a press conference Ko will announce that all the winnings from a race horse he owns will be donated to charity. The next day, Garoni and Wong arrive at Ko's press conference (where Garucci is also present) and embarrass Ko by publicly showing the crowd his attempted bribe to them.

The next day, Wong, Jones, and Hing's daughter Soo Ling (Moon Lee) visit Lee Hing to see what he found, while Garoni follows Garrucci. But instead, they see that Lee Hing has been killed and his boat burned. At a loss for information, Wong and Moon Lee visit a fortune teller. The fortune teller cryptically informs them that Garruci has come to Hong Kong to make an exchange for Laura Shapiro. But he warns them that if they interfere, there will only be death and betrayal. Meanwhile, Garoni follows Garruci to a shipyard, and deduces that it's Ko's drug lab with Laura Shapiro inside. In a meeting between Ko and Garucci, it is revealed that Ko kidnapped Shapiro's daughter because Shapiro did not pay for Ko's last shipment, which Garucci said was a "simple misunderstanding".

Wong, Garoni and Jones go to the drug lab. They destroy it and save Laura Shapiro in the process. Garoni, however, fails to escape with them after he is shot by Garrucci, and is held hostage unless Billy returns Laura to Ko. Wong decides to leave Laura Shapiro with Superintendent Whitehead.

Wong meets Ko and Garucci at the shipyard. He sees that Garoni is still alive, but then learns that Whitehead was on Ko's payroll the whole time, and is now holding Laura hostage (confirming the "betrayal" that the fortune teller cryptically warned about). Garucci then engages Wong in a one-on-one hand-to-hand fight, which Wong wins despite Ko's attempts to cheat and help Garucci. Then Wong dispatches 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 misses and hits an electric panel instead. Jones and Soo Ling arrive to help untie Garoni and rescue Laura. 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, where Wong prevails by eventually knocking the guard off to a long fall to his death. Garoni goes outside with the gang and kills a sniper with a 6-shot 20mm cannon. Wong eventually makes inside of a crane, and kills Ko when he drops the contents of the crane onto Ko's helicopter.

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

Hong Kong Version (aka Jackie Chan's personal edit)

The basic narrative of this version is the same as the US version. However, it begins to deviate after Garoni and Wong leave the massage parlour. The day after he and Garoni investigate the massage parlor, Wong goes to a theater to look for a woman named May Fong Ho. However, the woman he is looking for (Sally Yeh) goes by the name Sally, and Wong quickly deduces who she is among the dancers she's rehearsing with. Wong disturbs her during rehearsal by showing her Tin Ho's coin, but she denies having any friends from New York and tries to avoid Wong. Two men competing for Sally's affection try to fight Wong but are easily beaten before Wong pulls out his gun to end the fight. Wong and Sally then go to a restaurant, where she reveals that her father and another man were "partners" of Ko, until Ko killed her father. She changed her name in order to hide from Ko. She tells him to visit Lee Hing, her father's partner. However, unbeknownst to Sally and Wong, one of Ko's men has overheard the conversation.

After this scene, the movie stays the same as the US version until after Ko's press conference. In the Hong Kong version, after the press conference, Garucci expresses his concern about Garoni and Wong's knowledge of their drug operation, and that he'd like to do something about it. Ko's bodyguard tells him to "come along tonight".

Later that night, Lee Hing meets with his contact Wing (Hoi Sang Lee) at a seafood warehouse to find information about Ko. Wing tells Hing that Laura is being held in shipping containers at the shipyard, and reveals that the shipping containers contain Ko's heroin factory. However, they are suddenly attacked by a group of men with ice picks and Benny Garucci. Wing easily beats up the rest of the men, but is overpowered and killed by Garucci in a fight.

Later, Wong meets with Hing's daughter Soo Ling to meet with Lee Hing and his contact. They arrive at the warehouse, but find both Hing's and Wing's dead bodies. Realizing that Sally may be in danger, Wong visits her at her house, where he later realizes that Sally's substitute maid is working for Ko, and has planted a bomb under Sally's bed. Wong diffuses the bomb. Minutes later, the massage parlor manager arrives to warn Sally that Ko is coming after her. Sally reveals that the manager is actually her uncle, and "a family black sheep". It had been revealed in an earlier scene (also exclusive to the Hong Kong Version) that the manager had been "demoted to pimping" after failing to kill Lee Hing, Garoni, and Wong earlier, and that they are aware of Wong's visit with Sally. After the uncle arrives, more men working for Ko (this time with guns) arrive to kill them, but they fail and retreat. Sally's uncle tells Wong that Laura is being held at a shipyard in a container, and that inside the containers is Ko's drug factory. Afterwards, Wong helps Sally and her uncle find his contact in the United States to build a new life and start over.

After this scene, the movie is the same as the US version.


  • 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 as 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
  • Hoi Sang Lee 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.[3]

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

  • Punk gang ("the Indians") robbing the truck driver [trimmed for pacing, use of alternative shots]
  • Michael & Billy Wong driving from the stripped truck to the bar (heavily trimmed for pacing)
  • Bar shootout (use of alternate angles, slightly trimmed)
  • Billy Wong asks a civilian where the black bearded crook who shot Michael has gone. (added)
  • Wong chasing the black-bearded crook on foot and by boat. (re-edited and trimmed)
  • Michael's funeral. (deleted)
  • African-American cop tells Wong "Billy, we are with you" (in Cantonese) after Wong is scolded by the captain (added)
  • Garoni's racial slur towards Wong ("chink") is dubbed in Cantonese to be "you boy".

Scenes in Hong Kong

Massage parlour

  • Extra dialogue between Billy, Danny and a Chinese police officer 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.
  • Billy and Danny receiving a manicure/pedicure at the massage parlour (deleted)
  • 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 her. (added)
  • Stan Jones' reply to Lee Hing's comment "on credit I suppose" on the boat. (deleted)
  • Wong chasing the massage parlour manager. (trimmed for pacing and re-scored)
  • Lee Hing tells Garoni and Wong that Soo Ling will contact them instead of Stan. (changed through dubbing)
  • The discovery of Lee Hing's dead body on his boat. (deleted)

Other scenes

  • Mr. Ko's assistant beats the parlour manager and plots to kill Billy and Danny. (added)
  • Ko's voice 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."
  • Garruci talks with Ko's henchman. (replacing the scene where Garruci exchanges money with Ko)
  • Benny Garrucci beats up Lee Hing and Wing. (added)
  • Wong and Soo Ling visit a fortune teller. (deleted)
  • Wong discovers a bomb in Sally Yeh's bedroom. Then her uncle comes to warn Billy and Sally. Then Sally and her uncle depart from the airport. (added)

Drug lab and warehouse

  • The fight scene between Billy Wong and Benny Garrucci is re-edited to be more fast-paced.
  • Billy trying to block Benny's brass knuckles with a large metal can. (added)
  • Billy smashes a pot over Benny's head. (slow-motion and alternative take)
  • 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, sometimes changing the entire context of lines.
  • All nudity with women has been excised, with the drug lab re-shot to show fully dressed lab workers, and the nude masseuse being deleted.
  • The score is slightly different in certain scenes, and Chip Taylor's song "One Up For the Good Guys" during the end credits is replaced with a replayed upbeat theme from the movie's score.

Japanese Extended Version

The Japanese version of The Protector can be described as "an extended version" of Jackie Chan's edit. Like many old school Japanese versions of foreign language films, it features vertical Japanese subtitles burned into the right side of the screen.

The Japanese edit and Jackie Chan's edit have these few differences & similarities:

  • All scenes taking places in the USA contain the original US soundtrack. However the dialog, music, and sound effects were mixed differently to match more closely with the Hong Kong version, as almost all scenes remain edited like they are in the Hong Kong version.
  • Exclusive to the Japanese version, the scenes of Billy Wong asking a pedestrian where the bearded crook went and the African-American cop expressing his support to Billy were given an English post-sync dub, rather than the Cantonese dub for the Hong Kong version.
  • All scenes taking place in Hong Kong contain the Cantonese dub (although a full Japanese dub was also made).
  • The opening credits are in English, and feature Sally Yeh's name
  • The Japanese version exclusively contains the outtake credits

Deleted/Extended Scenes

Almost all of the Japanese version is edited to match the Hong Kong version, but it contains some scenes that were cut out of the Hong Kong version. Some scenes were given a different Cantonese dub to keep the original context of these scenes intact, as they were in the Glickenhaus version. These scenes are:

  • Garoni & Wong's first visit with Superintendant Whitehead & the latter conversation with the inspector. The latter conversation was kept in the Japanese version, requiring a new Cantonese dub.
  • Garoni & Wong talking about their plans outside the police station after their second visit with Whitehead (deleted from the Hong Kong version)
  • Garucci & David Ho talking in their car after leaving the airport (exclusive to the Japanese version)
  • Garucci & David Ho talking after Ko's press conference (slightly different Cantonese dub to change context)
  • Garucci exchanging money with Ko at his office (deleted from Hong Kong version)


The movie had a mixed to negative reception when it was released in the United States in 1985.[4][5]

In an interview with James Glickenhaus by Hong Kong film expert Bey Logan 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".[6]

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.[7]

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 the U.S Version on DVD, VHS and Laserdisc.
  • In Hong Kong, Universe Laser released a DVD of Jackie Chan's personal edit, featuring a Cantonese and Mandarin dub, along with 9 different subtitles, including English. It was non-anamorphic. This DVD is now out of print.
  • Shout! Factory released The Protector on DVD and Blu-ray as part of a double feature with Crime Story on January 15, 2013. It features the US version in high definition with a lossless DTS 5.1 Master Audio and English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks and English subtitles. The Blu-ray also contains Jackie Chan's edit of the film in anamorphic standard definition.[8]
  • In 2011, a blu-ray release from Paramount in Japan features the US cut in high definition, the Hong Kong cut in anamorphic standard definition, and a "Japanese Extended Edition". This is not the original Japanese extended edition, as the scenes from the Hong Kong edit are visibly inferior to the scenes from the US version. The extended cut is presented in anamorphic standard definition, and combines scenes from the US cut and the Hong Kong cut. The Glickenhaus scenes contain the original English dialog and the Hong Kong version scenes contain the Cantonese dub. However, this version does have the exclusive outtake credits, which plays the song "One Up for the Good Guys" by Chip Taylor.
  • In 2014, another Japanese blu-ray from Paramount was released, this time containing the true Japanese extended cut (with the vertical Japanese subtitles) in high-definition. It features the original English/Cantonese soundtrack and a Japanese dub, each encoded in LPCM 2.0, but with no English subtitles.
  • In 2015, a German blu-ray released by Splendid contained the Glickenhaus version in high definition with the original unaltered mono track in 2.0 DTS-MA, along with Fortune Star's slightly altered audio track. It also features an HD-upscaled version of the Hong Kong edit with a DTS-MA encoded audio, and an non-upscaled anamorphic version with a 2.0 Dolby track.

See also



  1. ^ The Protector at the Hong Kong Movie DataBase
  2. ^
  3. ^ Jackie Chan. "Jackie's Aches and Pains: It Only Hurts When I'm Not Laughing". Random House. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  4. ^ "The Protector". Variety. December 31, 1984. Retrieved November 3, 2010.
  5. ^ Pareles, Jon (August 24, 1985). "SCREEN: 'THE PROTECTOR,' FEATURING JACKIE CHAN". The New York Times. Retrieved January 30, 2011.
  6. ^ Logan, Bey (1985 (film), 2001 (DVD)). Police Story (audio commentary) (DVD). Hong Kong Legends, UK. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 13, 2013. Retrieved January 3, 2013.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

External links

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