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NEWBIES: If this is your first trip here (welcome!), here’s the QT on what these reviews are.
THIS WEEK: Quan Ngoc Minh (Jackie “RUSH HOUR” Chan) is a quiet, protective restaurant owner in Britain whose daughter gets blown up by Irish terrorists. He eventually goes after Pierce Brosnan, the gov’t’s Irish minister, to get the names of the bombers. (The “goes after” part is where the fun begins.) Of course, not all is as it (or they) seems as a big onion unravels…
Written by David Marconi, based on the novel THE CHINAMAN by Stephen Leather. Directed by Martin (CASINO ROYALE/GOLDENEYE/GREEN LANTERN) Campbell.
- Jackie Chan is his usual awesome action self, even though his fight scenes are limited. He kicks butt 30 years younger than his and looks great doing it. But the true standout is his “real” acting. I don’t think we see his trademark smile once in the whole movie! Playing a lonely and devastated Dad, he’s as good as Liam Neeson, just more subdued and subtle—he smolders rather than rages, and that’s refreshing. Detractors will probably focus on his thick accent, but that’s because they’re idiots. He’s a Vietnamese immigrant—deal with it!
- Other casting is good: Pierce (James Bond) Brosnan is perfect as the Irish minister trying to keep his Northern Ireland council and loyalties intact while still pleasing his British gov’t bosses. Not sure how good his Irish accent is (you’ll have to ask a Leprechaun), but it worked for my American ears. His unhappy wife, Orla (INTO THE BADLANDS, AMERICAN ODYSSEY) Brady, and the Brit Commander, Ray BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, HARRY POTTER) Fearon, were also standouts.
- Great plot: lots of political and personal intrigue, unraveling clues, who’s with and against the bad guys, plans going south, and so on. The backstory of Chan’s character’s tortured past is given in pieces with both visually and verbally, which is better than the usual yapping-heads exposition. His methodical escalation of attack, perseverance and slipping away each time is great to watch. Plenty of suspense!
- Stunts and fights, though not super-innovative, are still a blast to watch and have some nice surprises (especially the roof battle). Looks like Jackie still does all his own fight scenes, which at age 63, can’t be easy. But he makes it work and still looks great. Several explosions too!
- Topical topic: The whole IRA (Irish Republican Army, not Individual Retirement Account) vs. the UK thing isn’t something we see a lot of these days, but is still a big deal for a lot of people. There were a ton of Micks in the cast, so apparently they thought the story was on-topic as well. And of course, terrorism is a global thing everyone relates to.
- Lemonade bomb. Who knew you can blow up a bathroom with two bottles of lemon soda, some cord, a cigarette and a pack of matches? Don’t remember seeing that one before.
- Satisfying ending: readers here know I think the villain needs as big a payback as his deeds, and this one is pretty good at that (though I wish the one killer’s was better—see “Cons” below). From what I recall, all the loose ends and stuff get tied up and everyone pretty much gets what they deserve in different ways (except Quan, of course, because he doesn’t get his family back. But he gets something else).
- Some misleading trailers (as usual)–this is not an action flick. It’s a “suspense thriller” with equal amounts action and political intrigue.
- The relationship of overprotective Dad Quan and his ill-fated daughter Fan is too short to have as much of an impact as it should. All we know is that she’s engaged and excited about the wedding. (The other kids and wife are shown in flashbacks, which helps. But I bet there was a lot more in the book.)
- Suspension Of Disbelief Dept.: Let’s be honest, it’s tough for any 61-year-old (Chan’s character’s age) to take on and defeat a trained fighter three-to-five inches taller and 25-35 years younger, let alone four or more at once! (Special forces training or not.) I give him a pass because, well, it’s Jackie! I’d do the same for Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Neeson and their peers.
- You’ve seen this in every revenge flick: seemingly average Joe takes out police and military personnel and/or government targets, and you hear the phrase, “This guy is former special forces.”
- Opportunities for nudity and they blew it! We get a back shot from the waist up and some facial closeups. Instead we get closeups on cauterizing a wound with a hot knife and how to build bombs. Yeesh.
- Some of the political stuff, as well as various names, places and acronyms (like the UVF), will be lost on or confusing to proudly ignorant Americans like me. Expect to do a little Googling when you get home.
- Man, even centuries later, the Irish just do not like the English. Kind of like Southerners and the US gov’t. They could probably remake this with the Confederacy!
If yer a big Chan fan like I am, SEE IT in the theater. (I want it to do well in sales.) The stunts will look that much better and the explosions that much more impactful. But honestly, everyone else will enjoy it as much at home, so you don’t have to see a lot of old guys’ faces 20-feet tall; plus, you can pause, rewind and slo-mo the fights. Come for the action, stay for the intrigue!
P.S.: Get some action ART! Pascale will draw you some big-ass battle or a quiet portrait or a hot babe for a decent price that’s no foreigner to your wallet. Just ask Craig here!
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed by Bru-Hed are not necessarily those of Wednesday’s Heroes, Mike Pascale, the British government, Northern Ireland, the IRA, the UVF, the CIA, the NSA, the FBI, S.H.I.E.L.D., Vietnam, or Chinese restaurants. If you ever eat at the Happy Peacock, ask to meet the owner! Just don’t pick a fight with ‘im.