‘The Foreigner’ Will Have You Take Jackie Chan Seriously…Seriously

Jackie Chan is an ageless wonder.  He 63 years young and his first ever film credit was in 1962. He’s been in the game for 55 years.  

He did stunt work for Bruce Lee. 

He reinvented martial arts choreography. 

He’s known through all of the world. 

And why not?? Hubba hubba

He’s given so much of his body, and nearly gave his life a few times, for his craft. 

When Americans think of Jackie, they usually think of the buddy comedies that he’s done here in the states like Rush Hour or Shanghai Noon.  Older fans may point to crossover successes such as Legend of Drunken Master or Rumble in the Bronx.  In any case, we know Jackie Chan for his comedic physicality and his blinding fast improvisational skills with props in his fight choreography. 

He’s good…for a Kung Fu movie star. 

Enter The Foreigner. Now, Jackie is just good. 

In searching for a good circumstance in which to use terrorism but still involve a group of white people, the filmmakers took to the good ol’ IRA. Jackie’s daughter is killed in a public explosion that leads him to seek out the identity of the bombers. Opposite Pierce Brosnan, playing and former IRA militant-turned politician, he comes to believe that the second worst James Bond is keeping secrets from him and actually knows the identity of the terrorists. For this, Chan dedicates himself throughout the film to becoming a perpetual thorn in his side.

It’s what he’s not saying

You will notice throughout the film the majority of time and dialogue is spent on Brosnan’s side of the story.  It is still very evident that Jackie’s English is still broken enough that he could not carry dialogue throughout the entire movie. That’s why these other comedies for English audiences have costars that are fast talking, as to not let Jackie have to dominate the dialogue.  However, Jackie is very much alone in his journey in the film. So, in order to get the emotional resonance, we see him sadly react to some very traumatic events in his past as well as sullen and angry interaction with the people that just aren’t getting the job done quickly enough.  The movie bounces back between Chan’s preparation and operations against these people in order to find the names of the men (and women?) that killed his daughter, and a sort of political upheaval within the Irish representation in British government.  

Look, I’m not gonna lie…the dude is on the phone a lot

Although the film begins with the standard error of underestimating Chan, in this case very liberal use of the word “Chinaman”, they come to realize that he is a very severe threat and needs to be dealt with despite his age (Which by the way, props to make up for making him look really tired and old). He appears the part of harmless and grief stricken and just turns out to be their worst nightmare. 

The plot suits this kind of role for Jackie. He still does what he’s known for: fast hands, props, injury, but he’s given an emotional core that keeps your heart breaking as he continues down his obsessive path.  

See the flick, bro. I’ll say Pierce’s Irish seems a bit over the top but he gets marks for how his character turns. Great performances, compelling hero, and a coming of age…of sorts, for one of film’s icons. 


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