Skiptrace (2016)

Skiptrace [絕地逃亡] (2016)

Starring Jackie Chan, Johnny Knoxville, Fan Bing-Bing, Eric Tsang, Eve Torres, Winston Chao Wen-Hsuan, Yeon Jung-Hoon, Kira Shi Shi, Michael Wong Man-Tak, Dylan Kuo Pin-Chao, Zhang Lan-Xin, Na Wei, Charlie Rawes, Mikhail Gorevoy, Sara Forsberg, Jai Day, Richard Ng

Directed by Renny Harlin

Expectations: Pretty low.


Skiptrace was released a couple of years ago, and if I was a competent film reviewer doing a Jackie Chan series I might have reviewed it back then. I chose not to for a simple reason: Skiptrace didn’t look great, in fact it looked like a film that I didn’t mind waiting to see whenever I reviewed my way up to it. That time has finally come, and I can’t say that I was wrong to wait. Skiptrace is as bad as I thought it would be, but somehow knowing exactly why it’s bad just makes it seem worse than before. I’m not a fan of the Shanghai Noon films, and that’s what this film most closely resembles, so I imagine if you like those you might like this one, too.

We begin in the past, where Bennie Chan (Jackie Chan) scales a dock structure to help his friend (Eric Tsang) with the giant bomb strapped to his chest. Eric Tsang, knowing he is beyond help, jumps into the water below and explodes, leaving Jackie with the guilt and the responsibility to care for Eric’s daughter, Samantha (Fan Bingbing). Meanwhile, Connor (Johnny Knoxville) is a scumbag hustler who happens to meet Samantha in a Macau casino. While there he sees a man murder a woman; the same man who Hong Kong policeman Bennie Chan has tried to convict since he killed Eric Tsang. Somewhere in there Connor and Bennie meet up and the chase is on, with Chinese drug runners and a group of Russians in hot pursuit. It’s hard to describe, but it doesn’t play so disjointed while you’re watching it.

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Chinese Zodiac (2012)

ChineseZodiac+2012-8-bChinese Zodiac [十二生肖] (2012)
AKA CZ12, Armour of God III (unofficial)

Starring Jackie Chan, Kwon Sang-Woo, Liao Fan, Yao Xingtong, Zhang Lan-Xin, Laura Weissbecker, Alaa Safi, Rosario Amadeo, Caitlin Dechelle, Marc Canonizado, Oliver Platt, Vincent Sze

Directed by Jackie Chan

Expectations: All the excitement.

Overall:
twohalfstar

The couch & warehouse fights:
fourstar


The real question on everyone’s minds about Chinese Zodiac is whether it recaptures the Jackie magic of old, so I’ll just get right down to it. It does, without a doubt, but the problem is that while Jackie can still clearly perform and choreograph incredible action sequences, he’s only got enough juice left for two fights in the entire runtime of the film. And those two fights come within minutes of each other, so they’re almost like one big sequence. There’s also another fight between Zhang Lan-Xin and Caitlin Dechelle happening during the second Jackie fight, and that one is also all kinds of awesome. So yeah, Chinese Zodiac has some great action, but it’s pretty much all packed into one small section of the film. There are a couple of other martial arts moments, but the key word there is “moments.” It’s frustrating too, as there are situations throughout the film that would easily lead to memorable fights in any other martial arts film. Chinese Zodiac is not so much a classic Jackie film, as it is one that contains elements of Jackie’s greatness sprinkled throughout. You could argue that the idea behind this is the old “quality over quantity” argument, but I dunno… I wanted more fights. 🙂

Then there are the stunts… lots of stunts. Any Jackie fans knows what the man was once capable of, and to a large degree this legacy works against Chinese Zodiac. This incredibly high bar makes it so that even when Jackie Chan does something absolutely incredible, the Jackie fans won’t be all that impressed because they’ve all seen him do better. I don’t want to make it sound like the stunts here aren’t impressive, because they really are, I just think that it’s easy to cross your arms and watch Chinese Zodiac with a scowl because Jackie isn’t exactly doing what he promised he would with Chinese Zodiac. Well, at least it’s not what everyone interpreted his words to mean when he announced the premise of the film.

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