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‘Vanguard’ review: Jackie Chan is as charming as ever but what about the movie?

Is Chan enough?

Jackie Chan has thrilled movie fans for decades. His beautifully choreographed action scenes and winning charisma have earned him fans around the world. Now in his 60s, Chan is still willing to go all out for the people who love watching him. His latest action movie Vanguard is about the security agency of the same name. Headed by Tang Huating (Chan), the group is tasked to protect a wealthy Chinese businessman.

Vanguard sounds like an average action movies because for the most part it is. There are the big action set pieces, the globetrotting storyline, and the paper thin plot and shallow characters. Even the hard work of the still fun to watch Chan does little to set the film apart. The story probably wears its James Bond lite pedigree on its sleeve.

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Of course, an action movie is all about the adventure and fun. Characters only have to be passable and a plot is completely optional. And for a while, it looks like Vanguard is going to hold its own. Things are silly and Chan is as charming as ever. Unfortunately, the feeling does not last. Vanguard is content to be no different than any other action movie. As the credits roll complete with dangerous outtakes, it also shows it is satisficed being no different than previous Chan films. Things become too standard, CGI infested, and dependent on ethnic stereotypes before long.

The one saving grace of the movie is its star. He may be a little slower and the fight scenes are nowhere near as long as they once were, but Chan can still deliver the goods. Sadly, he spends too much of Vanguard with little to do. The martial arts legend injects some much needed intentional comedy into the film, but the explosiveness is no longer there. Chan does what he can, but the movie is never better than average. (Save on fun chase sequence early on that manages to be fun against all odds.)

It is rare that a movie star gets to go out gracefully. They either fall off the face of the planet or keep acting in less prestigious roles. Jackie Chan is an unquestioned legend who is known all over the world. If anyone deserves to go out on top, it is him. In Vanguard, he tries to add the his mystique but instead makes an action movie solely for completionists.

Were they watching the same movie?


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