The Foreigner (2017): Taut and Entertaining Version of “The Chinaman” (Trailer)

The Foreigner (2017): Taut and Entertaining Version of "The Chinaman"

The Foreigner, directed by Martin Campbell from a screenplay by David Marconi, is the big screen version of Stephen Leather’s taut and very entertaining novel “The Chinaman.” Jackie Chan plays the lead character and he faces up against Pierce Brosnan and a group of “new” IRA members who are hell bent on starting up the old campaign of terror anew.

Fans of Leather’s work will no doubt notice a few changes, with the title change being the first as well as the character’s nationality change, but this does not affect the story at all.  Overall, the tale’s message is the same and it is very easy to get caught up in Quan Ngoc Minh’s personal vendetta against those responsible for his daughter’s death.

The Foreigner is all about Minh’s search for justice after his daughter is killed by a bomb blast in a small clothes shop.(In the book it is Minh’s daughter and wife who die.) Minh visits the police everyday in order to get the names of those responsible. He even offers to pay for the names but the police, despite not operating that way, do not know who is in this new IRA cell.

Brosnan is Liam Hennessy, an Irish deputy minister with a few too many irons in the fire, who offers to help the British government find the new cell and stop them. He also has a lot more going on than is immediately evident. Minh goes to meet with Hennessy and soon the two men are locked in battle.

The Foreigner, like “The Chinaman” offers a main character who is much more than he appears. Minh may well be the owner of a Chinese takeaway/restaurant but he is the sum of his past experiences. These turn out to be all too deadly as Hennessy soon learns to his chagrin.

The pacing is spot on, like the novel it is based upon, and it feels like a splendid throwback to gritty films like the 1980 Bob Hoskins Helen Mirren gangster movie The Long Good Friday(A film that features a very young Pierce Brosnan as a young IRA assassin and one that also deals with bombings.) It has a touch of “Who Dares Wins” to it and features solid performances from all the players.

Campbell manages to keep things moving at a cracking pace and Chan proves that he is adept outside the action/comedy roles that have made him an icon in the industry. The film looks brilliant with everything meshing together perfectly.

The locations, the film is mainly set in London, are spot on and all lack the glamorous appearance of the capital city in films like “The Kingsman 1 and 2.” The action in The Foreigner steadily increases and while the timeline has been “moved up” to fit the present, the tale loses nothing in this shift.

Anyone who has read the book will find that the film delivers Leather’s story well and one has no problem getting behind Minh in his quest for vengeance and his own personal closure.

This is a full five star film that has been, somewhat strangely, given a limited release. (In the cinema where we viewed it The Foreigner was showing in only one theater cubicle.) There is some cursing (the worst being the “C” word), a tiny amount of vague nudity and a lot of violence.

The Foreigner is playing in cinemas now and is well worth the price of admission. Check it out.

Expendables 3 Willis Out Ford In Stallone Not Happy

Expendables 3 Willis Out Ford In Stallone Not Happy

Jackie Chan is NOT retiring from Action Films

Chan in his Hollywood breakthrough film Rumble...
Chan in his Hollywood breakthrough film Rumble in the Bronx. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A month ago it was reported that Jackie Chan, while at the Cannes Film Festival promoting his latest film Chinese Zodiac,  made a public announcement that he would no longer be doing action films.

His fans were shocked, saddened and (let’s face it) heartbroken. No more awesome to the extreme Jackie Chan stunts? No more brilliantly choreographed fight scenes? No chance for a Jet Li Jackie Chan film again…ever??

Nope.

Not true.

False.

Almost as famous as Jackie’s stunt work is his ‘non-command’ of the English language. Over the years we have seen, in just the out-takes of his films, the problem he has with English. It is often hilarious, or at least it seems so when we see Jackie ‘creasing up’ at his verbal faux pa’s.

Jackie Chan began his film career as a stuntma...
Jackie Chan began his film career as a stuntman in the Bruce Lee films Fist of Fury (1972) and Enter the Dragon (1973, pictured). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Jackie realised what the world thought he said, he immediately posted on his facebook page what he had really meant:

“Hello all my friends and fans,

Yesterday in my press conference in Cannes for Chinese 12 Zodiac I said that this movie was my last big action movie.

Today I was shocked when I woke up to read all the news coverage that I was retiring from doing Action movies.

I just want to let everyone know that I am not retiring from doing action movies. What I meant to say is that I need to do less of the life risking stunts on my movies. After all these years of doing so many stunts and breaking so many bones, I need to take better care of my body so I can keep working.

I will continue to do international action movies.

And I will keep improving my English :-)

English: Jackie Chan star in Hollywood Walk of...

A special thanks to Nerdjunkies.com for initially breaking the news of Jackies ‘retirement‘ from action films and then updating the status to fans of Jackie. For the original feature go to http://nerdjunkies.com/2012/05/jackie-chan-is-retiring-from-action-movies/#.T-Gx6xfY-So and they have included some of their fave footage of Jackie.

To say I am relieved is the understatement of the century. I have been a fan of Jackie’s for years. I think that his stunt-work and his fight choreography are in a category so far above the standard that there should be a category of film awards called: The Jackie Chan Award for Stunt Choreography.

Just my own humble opinion, but…

The Forbidden Kingdom (2008): Jackie Chan & Jet Li Wow

Cover of "The Forbidden Kingdom"
Cover of The Forbidden Kingdom

Directed by Rob Minkoff (The Lion King, Stuart Little 1 & 2) and written by John Fusco (Hidalgo, Young Guns 1 & 2), The Forbidden Kingdom has scored a couple of ‘firsts.’

It is the first time in cinema history that a western film company was allowed to film in China and  use the Hengdian World Studios, Heng Dian, China, although The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor was allowed to use the facilities in the same year. The second ‘first’ is of course the pairing of Jackie Chan and Jet Li .

The films main protagonist is Michael Angarano as Jason Tripitikas, a young American teenager who is obsessed with martial arts films and kung-fu. Angarano has been working in the business since he was small child and he has a list of credits as long as your arm, He is perhaps best known for his work on 24 and Sky High.

The film also introduces to western audiences two actresses who are well known in China, Yifei Liu as Golden Sparrow and Bingbing Li as Ni Chang the white haired witch.  Bingbing Li will be seen as Ada Wong in Resident Evil: Retribution later this year.

The film’s plot in a nutshell is this:

An American teenage boy goes to his favourite pawnshop to look for little known original kung-fu films. The shop owner Hop (Jackie Chan) likes the boy Jason and helps him to find films. While he’s in the shop, Jason discovers a golden Staff that he thinks he recognises and Hop explains the it has been in the shop since his father ran it.

Later Jason has a run in with a local gang who make him go to the shop in order to rob Hop. Hop tries to defend his shop and the golden staff. The gang leader shoots Hop who gives the staff to Jason and tells him to run. Jason runs to the top of a building and falls off of it. He hits the ground and loses conciousness.

When he wakes up, a Chinese lady is speaking to him and he appears to be in Feudal China. Since he doesn’t understand anything anyone is saying he starts wandering through the small village. A horde of soldiers arrive on horseback and start rounding up villagers and killing them.

Jason runs and encounters Lu Yan (Jackie Chan) who saves Jason from the soldiers. Lu Yan is talking to Jason, who keeps saying that he can’t understand him. Lu Yan states it is because he is speaking English. The moment Lu Yan says this Jason can understand what he is saying as magically everyone in the film starts speaking English.

English: Michael Angarano professional headshot.

Thus begins the journey that Jason must take in order to find the staff’s owner and return to his home. Along the way Jason and Lu Yan meet and start travelling with Golden Sparrow (Yifei Liu) and The Silent Monk (Jet Li). Jason learns that Lu Yan is an ‘immortal’ (he isn’t) and that Golden Sparrow is seeking revenge for the murder of her family by the Jade Warlord (Collin Chou).

Jason also finds out who the owner of the golden staff is, The Monkey King (Jet Li) who was tricked by the Jade Warlord long ago and turned into a living statue. The Monkey King is a true immortal and can only be released from his bondage by the return of the golden staff.

The Jade Warlord knows that the staff has been found and he sends Ni Chang (Bingbing Li) to stop the small group and get the staff.

This is an absolutely brilliant film.

The scene where Jet Li and Jackie Chan fight is absolute magic. Their separate styles are shown to great advantage. Li stoic and silent. Chan athletic and amusing. They are equally matched in the film. Li’s Silent Monk and Chan’s Drunken Master  each change their martial arts style to match the other’s.  Easily the most anticipated scene in film history, it does not disappoint.

In Hong Kong
In Hong Kong (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The rest of the film is entertaining and will have you laughing and crying, at the very least tearing up, and cheering.

Filmed with a budget of $55 million with a box office return of $127,906,624 this was a wildly successful film. But to be honest, it looks like a 55 million dollar film. The scenery, the sets, the costumes all look fantastic and really help to make you feel like you are in feudal China.

This film is a definite keeper I bought the blu-ray the second it came out. It’s a film that can be watched again and again. The blu-ray also has some brilliant ‘featurettes’ not least of which is the ‘gag’ reel or ‘out-takes’ which shows just how much fun the actors had working together.

 

Twins Effect (2003) AKA Vampire Effect: Pop Goes the Vampire

Cover of "Twins Effect (Sub)"
Cover of Twins Effect (Sub)

Co-directed by Dante LamDonnie Yen, and starring Gillian ChungCharlene Choi (from the Cantopop group Twins), Ekin ChengEdison Chen (The US Grudge 2) and Jackie Chan (in a brilliant cameo). The film was made to capitalise on the Twins popularity.

The Twins Effect is an action/adventure/comedy. While the two girls were the main draw for the film, Donnie Yen asked Jackie Chan to do a cameo so that the film would have a wider audience.

At the beginning of the film we see vampire Hunters Reeve (Ekin Cheng) and Lila (Josie Ho) take on a horde of vampires and their leader.  The leader is Duke Dekotes (Mickey Hardt) who is so powerful that he kills Lila. Heartbroken, Reeve swears to never fall in love with a fellow hunter again.

Reeve’s sister Helen (Charlene Choi) follows her boyfriend who is being unfaithful and is taking another girl to dinner. Helen comes in just as her fella’s new girl says Helen’s name. After making him cut off a fingernail, she plunks herself down at a nearby table where two men are already sitting.

The two men are Kazaf (Edison Chen) who is a vampire prince and his minder Prada (Anthony Wong Chau-Sang). Kasaf falls in love with Helen at first sight and gets her to give him part of her mobile (cell) phone number. After he and Prada rent an old church to live in, Kazaf instructs Prada to help him to woo the girl.

Anthony Wong Chau-Sang is absolutely brilliant as the dour and pedantic Prada. At one point he admonishes Kazaf for falling for Helen. He tell Kazaf, “You don’t date food.”

Reeve has been sent a new partner named Gipsy (Gillian Chung). Gypsy, upon meeting Reeve, develops a case of “love at first sight” and she also meets Helen, who  takes an immediate dislike to her.

Kazaf has managed to figure out Helen’s phone number and arranges a date. Gipsy and Reeve patrol the town and discover that Duke Dekotes is in town.

Helen finds out that Kazaf is a vampire, but she is a modern open minded sort of girl and doesn’t care. She  knows, though ,that she must not tell Reeve. Reeve has found out that Duke Dekotes is killing every vampire prince existing, because they each have a piece of a “spell” or book that allows the owner to become more powerful. Called Night For Day, it allows the owner to become omnipotent and able to move during daylight hours.

Reeve and Gipsy have to stop the Duke and Helen must save Kasaf.

English: Donnie Yen at 2007 Shanghai Internati...
English: Donnie Yen at 2007 Shanghai International Film Festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is enough wire work and martial arts in the film to make it more than qualify as an action film. And with Donnie Yen as the Action Director the fights are brilliantly choreographed as well as the stunts. Comedy runs throughout the film and considering the demographic that the film was aiming for works very well.

English: Jackie Chan at the Cannes Film festival.

Jackie Chan’s cameo as the nervous groom whose wedding that Helen and Kazaf gate crash was great. After he is married, Helen and Kazaf bump into Jackie again and he helps them escape some vampires who are chasing them.

Twins Effect is a wonderfully entertaining film that does not take itself seriously. Despite the fact that the producers were attempting to cash in on the singing groups popularity, they did not short change the audience.

One of the better action comedies to come out of China it is definitely worth a look or two. It is one of those films that can be viewed multiple times and never get old. Just remember to not take it seriously, and you’ll have a blast.