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"VANGUARD"
(2020) (Jackie Chan, Yang Yang) (Not Rated)


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QUICK TAKE:
Action: A high-tech security firm tries to rescue a Chinese businessman and prevent his adult daughter from being kidnapped by a terrorist intent on purchasing and using weapons of mass destruction.
PLOT:

After a group of villains led by Broto (BRAHIM CHAB) kidnap Chinese businessman Qin Guoli (JACKSON LOU) in London, Vanguard, the high-tech private security firm run by Tang Huanting (JACKIE CHAN), is called into action. Agents and good friends Zhang Kaixuan (AI LUN) and Lei Zhenyu (YANG YANG) are sent in to rescue Qin and manage to do that with the help of fellow agent Miya (MU QIMIYA).

It turns out Qin owes money to a terrorist, Omar (EYAD HOURANI), who wants to avenge his father's death from a U.S. drone strike and needs the cash to buy weapons of mass destruction for his retaliatory attack.

Realizing that Qin's adult daughter, Fareeda (XU RUOHAN) -- who's in Africa trying to expose and stop poachers -- is likely in danger, Tang and his team travel there but end up having her and Lei captured by the bad guys. With time running out, Tang and his team travel to Dubai where they hope to rescue Fareeda and Li and stop Omar's deadly plan before he's able to carry it out.

OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10

"Situational perspective" can mean different things to different people but I define it as one's view of a specific matter as it correlates to their state or that which they're observing. For instance, I view myself as old (or at least getting there rounding the bend toward 57), but have a friend who was 46 when I was born, meaning he likely views me as a whippersnapper behind my back.

I think Tom Brady is too old to be playing football at 43, but beyond proving me wrong so far, he's also the same age that John F. Kennedy was at his presidential inauguration, which seems pretty young to be POTUS.

So, it all depends on the whos, whats and wheres of the situation as well as the individual's unique perspective in relation to them passing judgment. That said, and much like my belief that Brady's body shouldn't be able to withstand the rigors of NFL games much longer, I also think that Jackie Chan is too old to be playing an action star.

Granted, being in one's sixties (he's 66) or older hasn't stopped the likes of Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Willis and so on, but trying to pull off the martial arts type moves by way of the likes of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin requires a certain amount of dexterity that old (or at least older) age isn't particularly fond of.

Alas, that's on full display in Chan's latest action flick, "Vanguard," a film that's as creaky as Chan's decades of stunts and injuries have probably left most of his arthritic joints. It's not so much that he looks awkward or bad doing the action stuff. Instead, it's that writer/director Stanley Tong likely senses the issue and not only uses lots of edits and camera angles to get around the immensely charming actor's likely physical limitations, and the script has reduced him to nearly a bit part despite receiving top billing.

In the 107-minute film, he plays Tang Huanting, the head of an apparently well-funded but covert special ops company that provides personal protection and such to the rich, using both on the ground agents (such as Ai Lun and Yang Yang playing close friends and coworkers) and high tech surveillance to provide their services.

Despite that, the usual one-dimensional villains (the head one played by Eyad Hourani wanting revenge against the U.S. military for a strike that killed some of his family) have kidnapped one of their clients, Chinese businessman Qin Guoli (Jackson Lou).

He has money that Omar needs to buy weapons of mass destruction and thus it's up to Tang and his team (that includes the obligatory female agent -- played by Mu Qimiya -- who turns out just to be just as proficient as the males in kicking butt and then some, martial arts style) to rescue the man and prevent his adult daughter (Xu Ruohan) who's in Africa (with some substandard CGI lions) from being nabbed as well.

All of which results in plenty of long action scenes that are too heavily edited to be exciting and likewise occasionally contain some bad visual effects, sped-up footage and so on. It doesn't help that the dialogue is often atrocious (no doubt "helped" by a bad dialogue dub job into English), the performances are wooden and the direction isn't going to be confused for the likes of the super-exciting "John Wick" films.

The fun of watching Jackie Chan in his prime was taking in his amazing dexterity and skills and the creative use of everyday objects both as impromptu weapons and means of avoiding the bad guys, along with the humor often accompanying that. He still had that in the "Rush Hour" movies, but those were long ago and aside from a brief bit near the end of the film, it's all about MIA here.

Yes, we all get old and I'm sure Chan can still do things I couldn't in my prime, but it's a shame that fans of his or someone new to his movie universe has to sit through dreck like this. Even the outtakes and behind the scenes shooting footage that play during the end credits are about as lackluster as they come. Which pretty much sums up "Vanguard" no matter the situation or perspective. It rates as a 3 out of 10.




Reviewed November 18, 2020 / Posted November 20, 2020


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