Three decades ago, Jackie Chan stated he would love to find new blood. This attempt at showcasing some new blood is not exactly what the fans had hoped for.
Tang is the CEO of Vanguard, an international security company mainly based in China. One of his core teams consist of Lei, Kaixuang, and Mi Ya. While Lei and Kaixuang are off duty, they just happen to be in the same city as Qin Guoli, a businessman who is well protected, especially by Vanguard. The Arctic Wolves are a terrorist group hired to kidnap Qin on behalf of Omar, a Middle Eastern-based businessman whose father was once Qin’s partner who was killed after being tipped off for making Qin pay to create a weapon of mass destruction.
When Lei and Kaixuan successfully rescue Qin from the Arctic Wolves, they get the whole story. They also learn that Qin’s daughter Fareeda is in Africa on a mission to stop poachers. Omar and the Wolves get wind of the situation and head to kidnap Fareeda. Upon their arrival, Lei instantly falls for Fareeda. As the Wolves come closer to the targets, they successfully kidnap Qin, who sacrifices himself after a near failed mission. When they learn Omar is in Dubai, Tang leads the group to head a rescue mission to save Qin and stop Omar and the Arctic Wolves once and for all.
Oh Jackie! Why did you do this? In the documentary The Best of the Martial Arts Films, Jackie Chan stated that he would love to one day just be a director as he is looking for “new blood”. Well, after a failed attempt to do that with The Disciple series, Chan finally attempts to bring in some “new blood” with his latest collaboration with longtime friend and stunt legend Stanley Tong. However, much like the flayed Kung Fu Yoga, it is clear that Chan and Tong need to go back to the drawing board as this film has its moments, but is not exactly one of his best.
While Chan gets top billing for the film, he seems to only come in sporadically in terms of action with his “attempt” at new blood leads to the trio of Yang Yang, Ai Lun, and Miya Muqi. The attempt starts our promising as we see Yang and Ai do some Jackie Chan style action in a kitchen fight against the likes of Brahim Achabbakhe (as Arctic Wolves leader Broto) and JC Stunt Team member Temur Mamisashvili among others. One could only hope we get more of that from these two, but sadly, it’s not the case. Instead, most of the action involves plenty of gunfire and car stunts. Plus, as soon as Chan himself enters the action, it soon becomes a Jackie Chan movie with him resorting to some wire trickery and sporadic ground combat.
The other major problem, one that lied with Kung Fu Yoga, is the use of visual effects to enhance the action. In an age where more grounded work has made a huge comeback, for one reason or another, Tong has decided to resort to using CGI to make the action look better. And it doesn’t. In fact, it’s the opposite of making it better. It makes it look ridiculous. Despite some sporadic fun moments, the action is basically looked at ripping off more stellar films such as Wolf Warrior and Operation Red Sea.
Vanguard is not a very exciting Jackie Chan film because his attempt to bring in “new blood” starts out promising, but ultimately becomes more of a burden. If Chan wants to bring in some new blood and want to work with Stanley Tong again, then they need to go back to the drawing board and go back to basics with Chan really taking a back seat.
WFG RATING: D+
Gravitas Ventures presents a China Film International/China Film Co. Ltd. Production in association with Epitome Motion Pictures and Tencent Pictures. Director: Stanley Tong. Producers: Stanley Tong and Barbie Tung. Writer: Stanley Tong. Cinematography: Lee Chi-Wah. Editing: Yau Wai-Chi.
Cast: Jackie Chan, Yang Yang, Ai Lun, Miya Muqi, Jackson Lou, Xu Ruohan, Zhu Zhengting, Eyad Hourani, Brahim Achabbakhe, Temur Mamisashvili, Joseph Fiorello, Can Aydin, Isaac Fernandez, Barret Coates.