Jackie Chan and long-time employee Stanley Tong strike miserably in their seventh film together. vanguard is a crazy CGI spectacle with a ridiculous plot, terrible acting and tense nationalistic themes. The fight scenes are decently choreographed, but get lost in the flood of caricature gun violence. The film triggers a slight giggle with fleeting moments of slapstick humor. Laughter is the only bright spot. vanguard is a huge disappointment for two of China’s most famous filmmakers.
vanguard begins festively during the Chinese New Year celebrations in London. A wealthy businessman, Qin Guoli (Jackson Lou), and his trophy wife are kidnapped by vicious mercenaries in broad daylight. They don’t know that Qin is being persecuted by vanguard, an international security company for elite customers. vanguardTang Huanting, CEO of (Jackie Chan), activates agents Lei Zhenyu (Yang Yang), Zhang Kaixuan (Ai Lun), and Mi Ya (Miya Muqi) nearby. They save Qin, but learn of a deeper conspiracy.
Qin is being hunted down by an African terrorist named Omar (Eyad Hourani). He has important information that Omar desperately wants. Qin’s daughter Fareeda (Xu Ruo Han), a social media star, is on a mission to protect wildlife in the African jungle. vanguard sends a team to rescue Fareeda before Broto (Brahim Achabbakhe), Omar’s lead henchman, comes to her.
vanguard aims at one binding/.Fast & Furious stylish mix of adventures with lots of gadgets, beautiful women and exotic locations. The fault lies in the clumsy execution. First, the visual effects in the movie are amazingly poor. Every scene with animals or vehicle chases becomes CGI effects at certain points. The change is obvious and poorly made. The movie turns into a ridiculous video game. The bad guys rain gunfire on the protagonists. They’d better throw their guns instead. The balls are essentially noisy fireworks. The stupid action affects the skill of the martial arts fight. It’s a cluttered mess that unfortunately looks terrible.
Jackie Chan receives top billing but is a minor character in vanguard. The younger leads have the most screen time and the most action scenes. Chan shows flashes of his typical acrobatics, but leaves the heavy lifting to the ensemble. The problem is, they’re not that charismatic. The interaction between the vanguard Team and Fareeda is stupid stupid.
Director / writer Stanley Tong (Supercop, Jackie Chan’s first hit) goes overboard with the comic elements. He crosses the line from humorous to stupid. This is especially true of the female characters. The supporting actresses are mostly relegated to giggling, flirting, and the traditional woman in need. Miya Muqi has some good fights, but is then used as a “honey trap” in an eye-catching scene.
I’m a big fan of Jackie Chan and Stanley Tong. I remember waiting in line to see Rumble in the Bronx. vanguard is such a big disappointment. There is really nothing to recommend here. The action is completely ruined by the CGI. It puzzles the mind that the filmmakers and the studio have accepted such abysmal special effects. vanguard is a production of China Film (Shanghai) International Media Co., China Film Group Corporation and Shanghai Tencent Pictures Culture Media. The film will have a major North American theatrical release on November 20th, including IMAX screens from Gravitas Ventures.
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