BY RYAN MACKETT
I DON’T think any actor has contributed as much to stunt work and physical performance on screen as Jackie Chan. We all marvel in awe when it’s announced what crazy stunt Tom Cruise pulls off in whatever flick he’s working on (and to be fair, Cruise’s commitment to actors doing their own stunts is pretty spectacular).
But nothing even comes close to the death-defying feats, incredible acrobatics and blazing choreography that has made Chan one of the most iconic international superstars of all time.
Interestingly, in North America Chan is best known for taking centre stage in campy, slapstick action comedies for the most part (with a few notable exceptions, of course).
In China, however, his roles also include a fair amount of more serious ones, in which he is able to flex his acting muscles alongside those required to work his physical magic on screen.
With The Foreigner, it is clear that Chan is attempting to show North American audiences that he can indeed act, and he truly was very good in this film. The movie is based on the novel The Chinaman by Stephen Leather, and was directed by Martin Campbell (GoldenEye, Casino Royale, Green Lantern). It was a well-made film, with some interesting shots, but overall it looked and felt like any other generic action film. What brought it up a level were the performances from Chan as well as Pierce Brosnan.
In spite of the film being headlined by Chan and all of the marketing promising an action thriller showcasing Chan’s physical abilities, there’s surprisingly very little Jackie Chan in the film.
The movie felt more like a Brosnan-centric political thriller featuring Jackie Chan. That being said, when Chan does spring into action, it is pretty incredible.
The story opens with Chan bringing his daughter prom dress shopping when a rogue IRA terrorist cell detonates a bomb, killing her. The emotional depth of Chan’s performance at this point in the film, along with the graphic, horrifying images of the aftermath set a tone for the film that didn’t really follow through to the end.
The film quickly became a mash-up of The Equalizer, Collateral Damage and Taken, and abandons the plot of “a good man pushed too far” in favour of a political subplot that while still interesting was not what was promised by the marketing.
Ultimately the film was entertaining enough, and is definitely worth a watch when it hits Netflix. Don’t rush to the theatres to see it, though.
Ryan Mackett is an artist and film enthusiast who resides in Thunder Bay. Email questions or comments to him at email@example.com.