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The Martial Artist 

Jackie Chan always amazes

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The first Jackie Chan movie I saw was "Rumble in the Bronx." I was lucky enough to see it on the big screen, amazed that it was possible to laugh while also being awed at the incredible stunt work and martial arts. Chan changed how I viewed action movies and retroactively made Stallone and Schwarzenegger less impressive. Why should I be impressed with muscle-bound mumblers shooting guns when this little guy flies through the air putting his life on the line to entertain an audience?!

Chan's work got me into Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. "Rumble in the Bronx," "Supercop," "Armour of God" and "Shanghai Knights" are classics, and "The Legend of Drunken Master" might arguably be the greatest martial arts movie of all time. All of this is to say that Chan is a treasure. We should have statues of him all over the country like we do with Rocky Balboa and Robocop.

It's exciting that Chan has another high-profile film in theaters (as well as another "Rush Hour" headed our way pretty soon), but "The Foreigner" showcases an entirely different side of the actor best known for face kicks and mugging to the camera.

Chan plays Quan, a restaurant owner who loses his daughter (years after losing his wife and two other daughters) to an Irish Republican Army bombing in London. Pierce Brosnan is Hennessy, an ex-IRA leader who's now a local politician brokering peace treaties between the U.K. and Ireland. Quan wants to know who killed his daughter and he thinks Hennessy has the names. Nothing will make him think otherwise, no matter how much Hennessy denies any knowledge of the bombers.


I


t's hard watching Chan get old, but he uses his 63-year-old face and (slightly) slowing body to make the story of Quan one that plays much harder than his usual fare. If you watch a dozen Steven Seagal movies in a row, you'll notice he rarely ever takes any damage. A bloody nose on him would be as out of place as an exciting Chuck Norris movie (sick burn!). Chan is never afraid to get his ass kicked on camera, often losing a fight or two before his eventual triumph. Now, in the twilight of his action career, he puts in the work of not just a stunt performer but as a character actor as well.

Chan is always believable as a grieving father hunting anyone and everyone he can find who might give him the men he's looking for. He's actually stronger in the film than Brosnan, who's saddled with reacting to Chan the entire film.

"The Foreigner" is more of a political thriller than an action movie, with Jackie Chan only fighting in two or three action set pieces. It doesn't matter, though, because he still looks amazing kicking and punching guys twice his size, flying through the air, grabbing on to things at the last second. There's more plot than there needs to be and the whole movie is bogged down by a soggy second act, but this is a Jackie Chan movie and we're lucky to have it—critical thinking be damned.

The Foreigner

Dir. Martin Campbell

Grade: B

Old Mill Stadium 16 & IMAX


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