review by Bobby Blakey
While Jackie Chan has still been delivering the action in Asian cinema it has been a while since we got a really great US film from him. His latest, The Foreigner teams him up with Pierce Brosnan and director Martin Campbell at the helm, but does it offer up that something special that a great Chan action flick normally has or will it be revenge not worth fighting for?
The Foreigner follows a humble London businessman Quan, whose long-buried past erupts in a revenge-fueled vendetta when the only person left for him to love -- his teenage daughter -- is taken from him in a senseless act of politically-motivated terrorism. In his relentless search for the identity of the terrorists, Quan is forced into a cat-and-mouse conflict with a British government official, whose own past may hold clues to the identities of the elusive killers. When we talk about vintage Jackie Chan you think more about the great action, stunts and humor, but this film isn’t vintage Chan this is something new and awesome. Have no fear there is plenty of great action here, but instead of the high flying over the top style, they have made it a more brutal realistic style that compliments Chan’s style to perfection. I have no doubt he was involved in making it work his way and I loved that he wasn’t just the invincible unstoppable character, but instead one that is skilled, but still takes a beating.
The biggest standout here is his performance. This is easily one of if not Chan’s best performance to date. He has taken on dramatic roles before, but there is so much depth and sadness expressed here you feel every amount of his pain. There is something really depressing about seeing a lack of happiness in the usually uplifting Chan. He literally smiles maybe once at the beginning and then the rest of the moment is a man who feels nothing but loss and anger. This allows you to fully invest in the character and his choices, but they never take him fully over the edge or make him just another Hollywood cliché.
Brosnan also does a great job and makes for a great rival for Chan alongside a great turn by Dermot Crowley who is best known for his role of General Madine in Return of the Jedi. The trailers for this film lead you to believe it is more like Taken and while there is that vibe it is so much more than that here both good and bad. I loved that the story was a bit deeper than I expected but at the same time it gets a bit drawn out at times. While there is plenty of action here it was not as action packed as I had expected with even Chan sidelined for some time in the film. Of course I would have preferred to see a non-stop thrill ride of Chan kicking constant ass, but I admit that I enjoyed seeing him stretch his acting chops more and showcasing that he is more than just another stunt reel.
In the end this wasn’t the full on explosive action fest I was hoping for, but instead a slow burn action thriller of sorts that works. I both loved and hated seeing this side of Chan, but it was necessary for the film to work and make no mistake when he is in action mode it is fun to watch and he still has it. Hopefully this gives Chan the chance to offer up more of these kinds of roles in the future.
This release not only includes the film, but also bonus content including interviews, trailers and a behind the scenes making of featurette. Join the quest for vengeance with The Foreigner on DigitalHD, Blu-ray and DVD available now from STX Films and Universal Home Entertainment.