The Foreigner: Not the exciting action you expect

Leonardo Paley

Jackie Chan is known for popularizing the Drunken Monkey fighting style, as well as helping to create the action comedy genre. An action legend, Chan has recently been leaning more towards a serious film style. In 2010, he played Mr. Miyagi in the remake of The Karate Kid with Jaden Smith.

Chan’s American work has always lacked something his Asian films are able to capture, Chan’s incredible ability to use anything as a tool to fight. Buckets, t-shirts, and famously a ladder in First Strike, anything within reach is a weapon in the hands of Jackie Chan. This style was adapted in the Jason Bourne series, Bourne using anything nearby to fight, as Jackie did decades before. The difference here, is that when Chan directs he doesn’t cut away from the action. You see him get hurt because he’s not perfect, and you watch the entirety of the fight in very drawn out takes, where the comedy and the heart of the action is created. Unsurprisingly, this is lost in The Foreigner.

For the fans of Stephen Leather’s book, The Chinaman, there will be disappointment and frustration. While the book is about people being forced to deal with unforeseen repercussions of their mistakes, the movie is a relatively generic thriller with a handful or twists to keep the audience on their toes. The racism that is called to question in the book is set aside, the backstories of characters are changed, and in some cases entire major characters from the book are just erased.

For those going for a Jackie Chan action movie, they will be slightly more entertained. The film has several scenes that are very entertaining to watch, despite being edited to the point where you can’t really see any of the action, Chan’s character plays like a cliche special-ops man with a vendetta. In many ways, it seems the film took more inspiration from John Wick than from the book it is based on.

The film is captivating, despite these issues, and is an enjoyable action film. It does focuses heavily on the politics of the IRA and the relationship between England and Ireland, which is by no means the strong point of the story. Certainly not the the return of Jackie Chan action fans were hoping for, but as fans of Chan’s American work wait for Rush Hour 4, it will tide them over enough.

2.5/5 Sails


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