Please excuse my blasphemy, but I actually thought this movie was kind of a turkey. To be fair, the English voice dubs certainly made it much worse than it would have been with just sub-titles! And, I'm used to Chan's higher-budget American films, so of course this piece couldn't compete.
Now then, to the subject of this thread; I agree that Lo San-Po was incredible!
Naturally, one should expect no less from the "King of the Pirates", but he certainly delivered the goods, and proved that he deserved the title!
Also, his death was, indeed, truly disappointing, but as for him being a "sympathetic" character, let's remember.... he's the KING of the PIRATES! How much more evil can ya get?!
Finally, regarding Darth Maul from "The Phantom Menace", I could not agree more! It was such a waste of a terrific character killing him off after only one film! But then, I suppose they couldn't have him going up against Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader - he'd SHRED the main character of the trilogy!
Yes, that IS somewhat blasphemy because budget isn't important for these kinds of films. The high-budget american films are mostly worse than Chan's older works and the higher budget is part of the problem. They spend that money on american co-stars, explosions and other unnecessary elements that only distract from the plot, martial arts and hilarity. Shang High Noon is probably the only exception here, it was a good movie and the budget helped regarding the historic pieces, but aside from that ... also, in american productions Chan is nothing more but the sidekick of the american guy and always on the receiving end of jokes based on chinese/asian culture. The main reason for me to watch Rush Hour 2 was because I hoped this time the roles would be reversed, you know, because it takes place in Hong Kong. Chris Tucker would be the foreigner this time. But nooo, they were still making jokes about the chinese.
Project A is one his best movies, alongside with Drunken Master II. His american movies aren't all rubbish but definately not better - they may have bigger budgets and look shinier (which has also being todo with being shot later) but they lack the heart, soul and charisma of Chan's earlier works.