There was a time when I watched Jackie Chan films religiously. I got on the train late – I was first introduced to Chan by the incredibly poorly synchronized but great thing Rumble in the Bronxand then recorded many of his older Chinese classics while keeping up to date with his new releases.
However, that was a long time ago.
I’ve seen one of his films on occasion for the past decade, but as the actor aged his stunt work has shrunk and my taste for action films has changed significantly. I largely ignored his late career career.
Enter vanguard. In normal years, I might have thrown this new action movie – which has a really sloppy trailer – out of the gate. But this is not a normal year, is it? With a small gap in my screening calendar, I opted for a vortex – and lo and behold, it’s not always the most sophisticated action film, but an action film with several surprisingly well-staged and executed action sequences.
Despite receiving top payroll, Chan is practically a supporting character who plays the administrative manager of an elite Chinese troop called Vanguard, which has been hired to protect an accountant from a group of mercenaries. The accountant’s daughter, who somehow manages to get perfect hair, even though she lives among lions somewhere in the African wilderness, is also involved. This is followed by a two hour chase around the globe with lots of shootouts, fistfights and other actions the way.
By Stanley Tong, director of many of Chan’s favorite ’90s films (at least from an American import perspective) –Rumble in the Bronx, Supercop, Supercop 2, and Combat troop– –vanguard is an effectively entertaining action film. It can be a “quantity over quality” approach, but that’s not entirely fair. Most of the action that Tong delivers is big, fast-paced, and relentless, more than enough to please action fans.
The less that can be said about the rest of the film, the better. The movie’s attempts at developing humor and character are incredibly cheesy, if not downright silly, and clearly an afterthought. The acting isn’t exactly top notch, and the Globetrotter plot isn’t as sophisticated as it probably seemed on paper. In other words, the film feels hastily put together to put the action scenes together.
vanguard is not a must in the cinema, but for fans of Chinese action films and / or Jackie Chan there is enough to check out here.
Rating by Erik Samdahl, unless otherwise stated.