After a short hiatus, Jackie Chan returns to English speaking live action film with The Foreigner. Sadly, he might have been better off sticking with Chinese films instead. The Foreigner is based on the 1992 book “The Chinaman” and besides Chan stars Pierce Brosnan, Michael McElhatton, Liu Tao, Charlie Murphy, Orla Brady and Katie Leung.
Jackie Chan’s character Ngoc Minh Quan and his daughter Fan are out enjoying their day when a bomb goes off in killing his daughter. The bombing is claimed by the Authentic IRA group. Little do they know that they have sealed their fates by killing Quan’s daughter.
Honestly, a film about Chan’s character seeking revenge for the death of his daughter, after a car bomb goes off, should make for one hell of a film. Instead, Chan’s character Ngoc Minh Quan is kinda put to the sidelines during non-action scenes, and the film focuses more on the political aspects and stressed the relationship between the IRA and the UK government. I actually enjoyed this part of the film, but couldn’t help but question “Isn’t this film starring Jackie Chan?” Chan’s character serves as more of a plot device and action break to move things along, while the real depth and characterization come from Brosnan, who plays the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland and a former UDI member.
I wouldn’t have minded Chan playing second fiddle if the political stuff didn’t have its own problems. Not only was everything predictable, but some of the IRA and UK characters were underdeveloped. Too much time was spent on Brosnan reacting to events as they unfolded. A moderate film viewer would have picked up on all the plot key points before they actually happened.
For a film featuring one of the greatest action stars, the action scenes were actually weak. Chan portrayed some of his signature monkey-like movements, but he alone couldn’t make up for the poor camera work. There was one scene out of the few that actually deserves some praise: towards the end, there is a shootout that reminded me of early John Woo films like Hard Boiled.
The Foreigner is an average film experience that could have been better given the revenge plot and actors involved. Fortunately those hungry for Chan have Rush Hour 4 to look forward to but should know Chan isn’t what he used to be.
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