In The Foreigner, director Martin Campbell — savior of the James Bond franchise and the reason why Deadpool had a Green Lantern joke — dares to pose the question: “Why on earth would you make a Jackie Chan movie without Jackie Chan?”
Even though the marketing of The Foreigner suggests a Jackie Chan revenge-thriller, don’t go into the film expecting The Legend of Drunken Master by way of Taken. We see Chan’s Quan use his very particular set of skills, but not nearly as much as we’d like. For every minute of Quan kicking ass and taking names, we see eight minutes of Pierce Brosnan’s ex-IRA politician drink, demean and describe Quan as “the Chinaman,” when in fact we Chinamen prefer the term “Financiers Of This Let-Down.”
To be fair, Quan isn’t the film’s main character, doing very little to move the story forward. The film is about Brosnan’s character identifying the IRA bombers who killed Quan’s daughter. Quan pops in every now and then to hurry him along — blowing up bathrooms, beating up henchmen and generally prodding him whenever he feels slightly unmotivated. Quan is Gordon Ramsay, and Brosnan is the chef who gets called an “idiot sandwich.”
While The Foreigner makes the mistake of underusing its most bankable star, Chan proves that, at 63, he’s still film’s ultimate martial arts legend. Campbell doesn’t have to resort to quick cutting to obscure a stunt double during the film’s action scenes — we know that it’s Chan himself punching goons, bursting through windows and falling down stairs. To Campbell’s credit, he knows how to direct an action scene. The energy and pace of the film’s set pieces make The Foreigner entertaining, though only for a fraction of the film’s runtime.
Ultimately, while The Foreigner might please some, it isn’t necessarily worth seeking out, especially when The Legend of Drunken Master is on Netflix.
Featured image via STX Entertainment.