Kids know and love martial arts legend Jackie Chan from flicks like “The LEGO Ninjago Movie” and “The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature.” With the release of the revenge drama “The Foreigner” he’s back into adult territory.
Sixty-three-year-old Chan plays London-based restaurateur Quan Ngoc Minh whose daughter Fan (Katie Leung) is an innocent victim of a bomb attack on a fancy Knightsbridge dress shop perpetrated by a group called the Authentic IRA. Stricken with grief and fuelled by anger he embarks on a mission to track down the people responsible for killing his child. His journey of revenge takes him to Belfast where he zeros in on Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan), a Martin McGuinness type politician and former IRA member.
Quan, as it turns out, while old, frail looking is no one to be trifled with. I mean, this is Jackie Chan we’re talking about here. Before he was the counter man at the Happy Peacock Restaurant he was a special forces solider, trained in all manner of bomb laying and bone breaking. When Hennessy rebuffs Quan, denying any knowledge of the murderous events—“I realize you are angry,” he says, “but there’s not much I can do.”—and kicking the desperate man out of his office, he sets into motion a series of events that will see the restaurateur show his true colours.
“The Foreigner” is an action film but when the fists aren’t flying it concentrates on the fraying edges of Hennessy’s political career.
Chan’s presence dropkicks what is otherwise a rather straightforward story of revenge, directed with simple elegance by Martin Campbell, into the realm of the enjoyable. He walks like a hunched over grandpa but packs a punch like Bruce Lee.
There’s a buzz that comes with a Jackie Chan fight scene. Who else, at an age when CARP brochures start showing up in the mail, would jump through a window, grab hold of a drainage pipe and slide 20 feet down to a rooftop. Jackie Chan, that’s who. The action feels real because it is and that authenticity gives “The Foreigner” much of its electro-charge.
Brosnan is a coiled spring, a politician with secrets and an iron will. His tale of political intrigue overshadows Quan‘s story—Chan disappears for a big chunk of the movie—but it does give him a chance to chew the scenery and have some fun.
“The Foreigner” isn’t a memorable movie but it is a welcome return to the action genre for Chan and Brosnan after too long a time away.