The Foreigner

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There’s not another action star as likable as Jackie Chan. He’s always so sweet in interviews, and you can tell he’s a genuinely nice person.   

As a kid, I liked Bruce Lee movies and acting them out with the other boys on the block. As an adult, the first few times I saw Jackie Chan movies I thought there were mildly entertaining. Mostly at the end credits with the bloopers that show him falling or actually taking some hard shots. So I came into this movie with low expectations.

It was a pleasant surprise to see him drop the happy-go-lucky character, going with a sour puss face. You might think — hey, his daughter (Katie Leung of Harry Potter) died. He should look sad. [no “spoiler alert” needed, as the trailers show that]. Yet he had that look even when he was picking her up from school to go buy a new dress. I’m not sure why he wasn’t in a better mood in that scene.

Directed by Martin Campbell, who was behind the camera when Pierce Brosnan first became a 007 agent in GoldenEye over 20 years ago, and they’re teamed up again. Campbell also was there when Daniel Craig became Bond over 10 years ago, so…it’s fitting that the first time Chan plays a more dramatic role, it’s with this director (that also gave us the unfortunate Green Lantern, The Mask of Zorro, Vertical Limit, No Escape, Edge of Darkness).

The movie reminded me of Liam Neeson and his special set of skills…crossed with Rambo. Everyone seems to be after Quan (Jackie Chan) after some bombs go off, but once they venture into the canyons and trees, he’s got ya.

You’ll roll your eyes at the slightly convoluted conspiracy plot, that brings back the IRA as terrorists. That means we’ll have to believe that all these high ranking politicians would even be involved in such a mess.

Liam Hennessy (Brosnan) is a former IRA leader turned British official tasked with finding out who was behind the bombing. .Quan knows he knows more than he’s letting on, and he keeps threatening him, asking for “names.” Each time he’s rebuffed, another explosion or threat by Quan is made. This is a guy that wants to get to the bottom of who killed his kid. And having survived some horrific things in Vietnam, just as Rambo had…he’s going to be kicking ass and…trying to take names.

The movie ends up going down the usual predictable paths. Sometimes that means fight scenes where Quan is outnumbered but ends up beating everyone up (at least his 63-year-age shows, and you feel that he’s actually being hurt in some instances). Other times, the predictability involves double-crosses, pressure from other governments, and a wife (Orla Brady) that is growing tired of it all.

The electronic score evoked an ‘80s vibe that fit well, and overall, it’s a fun escape. You go into a Jackie Chan picture knowing what to expect, and you get it (although with a bit less comedy than usual).

This is based on the Stephen Leather novel The Chinaman, a title that probably can’t be used in these PC times. Unfortunately, the title The Foreigner just makes me think of Juke Box Hero.

This gets 2 ½ stars out of 5.