STX Films 1 hour and 54 minutes R
This was better than expected. Jackie Chan said he was going to hang up action films a few years ago because it took such a toll on his body. But he’s baa-aack. And he does a good job with the fighting and stunts he eventually does in the film. But what he really wanted to show was that he can act serious. He was tired of only getting action comedy roles in Hollywood. Chan liked the script by David Marconi (Live Free and Die Hard, Enemy of the State) based on Stephen Leather’s novel, The Chinaman, and said, “I can do this.”
This is all very Bondish with lots of twists and turns. Director Martin Campbell directed Pierce Brosnan in Goldeneye and Daniel Craig in Casino Royal. Chan and Brosnan go head to head in this one. It’s a smart script based on Chan who plays Quan, a meek owner of a Chinese restaurant in London. When his daughter (Katie Leung) is killed in a bombing that the IRA claims responsibility for, Quan, goes to Britain’s First Irish Minister, Liam Hennessy, played by Brosnan, for help getting “names” seeking revenge for her death by this terrorist act.
Both men have secret pasts. Quan is willing to use his Special Forces training to get to the people who have the “names.” Hennessey was a former IRA vigilante 30 years ago. But now he’s trying to hold on to his cushy position in government and try to keep peace with his people in Northern Ireland. But he loses his cool when Quan keeps pestering him, taking out the people around him.
Chan is so broken up about losing the only family he has left. His wife and two other daughters were brutally killed years ago as they escaped China. It’s unusual to see him Chan so serious, but he uses his great comedic timing getting some laughs at his serious, stoic delivery of lines like just the word “names.” He doesn’t need to talk a lot to get the point across.
You expect him to fight, but doesn’t until after he establishes his quiet character. Then he lets loose, full out. Welcome back, Jackie Chan. From busting out windows and sliding down roofs, to setting inventive traps and explosions. There’s a lot of blood and destruction. Twists and turns in the relationships between Hennessy and his wife and nephew add more interest. But Quan and Hennessy’s cat and mouse game dominate.
Brosnan is a big Jackie Chan fan and Chan had high praise for Brosnan. He says he even helped him with his English and showed up early on set to read a phone scene off camera with Chan who was on camera to make it real and then left. Chan was impressed because he says usually an AD or other crew member would read Brosnan’s part.
Chan gets to hang up his Special Forces training at the end and go back being serious and maybe a little too emotional. The film is pretty formulaic and Bond like, but it’s fun to see Jackie Chan in action again. Can he do serious drama? That’s affirmative.