‘Vanguard’ Movie Review: Jackie Chan’s A-Team
Jackie Chan was already trying to phase out of action movies in the ’90s. In his 1998 autobiography, I Am Jackie Chan, he talked about trying to shift to drama or at least less strenuous action movies that didn’t rely on his martial arts. 22 years later and Chan is still making outrageous action movies like Vanguard. It almost feels like we’re greedy. He’s 66 now, let the man rest.
Truthfully, Chan always experimented with different films. He did dramas like Heart of Dragon and Crime Story although those still had a little bit of action. Vanguard is a more ideal formula. Now Chan plays the leader of a team, so he still has the moves, but he can share the load a little bit more.
Jackie Chan leads ‘Vanguard’
Tang Hauting (Chan) leads the Vanguard security team. When the Arctic Wolves, led by Broto (Brahim Chab), kidnap Vanguard clients the Qins, the team heads to Africa where the Quins’ daughter Fareeda (Ruohan Xu) is the next target. Fareeda is in Africa exposing the poacher Tunda (Tomer Oz).
All these subplots collide when the Vanguard team must protect Fareeda and rescue the Quins. It involves a former business partner who turned out to be a terrorist and now his son is out for revenge, but does it really matter? The point is how crazy can Chan’s action get.
Jackie Chan still in action
Chan is in a lot of Vanguard’s fight scenes, but he shares them with the team of younger agents. So instead of Chan himself handling all the bad guys for five minutes straight, he handles a few and he showcases some new talent. Chan lets the younger actors be faster and more acrobatic. There’s no ego here. He’s still graceful, hilarious and awesome but he gets to pass the torch.
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The young heroes are still doing Chan-inspired choreography too. They use nearby objects as weapons, sometimes to comedic effect. They rub their bruises when they get hurt to show they’re not invincible. Then Chan shows up again to remind you that hes the original.
Stanley Tong is on the ‘Vanguard’ of action movies
Longtime Jackie Chan fans will recognize Vanguard director Stanley Tong as the director of some of Chan’s most outrageous movies. Supercop, Rumble in the Bronx and First Strike contain some of Chan’s most dangerous stunts along with some of his most memorable martial arts. They’ve kept in touch with The Myth and Kung Fu Yoga, but Vanguard really takes them to the next level.
On top of martial arts, Tong also gives you fast and furious drifting cars, a jet ski chase, gold cars and more. Vanguard has an assassin (Zhu Zhengting) on a hoverboard! Tong directs wild James Bond style action with some martial arts too. The second half of Vanguard veers away from the martial arts a bit, but it’s as big and loud as Hollywood movies of the ’80s and ’90s.
A CGI lion is no sillier than Hollywood CGI, although the hyenas are iffier. It’s a bit of a bummer to see Tong do shakycam like Hollywood movies do. At least he only employs that for gunplay scenes. When the real martial arts starts, Tong lets you see his performers in action. There’s just too much craziness to resist. Vanguard has it all.