Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 28, 2021)
If it seems like Jackie Chan has been around forever… well, he kind of has. Chan’s career started as a child in 1962, so he’s coming up on 60 years as an actor.
Now 66, Chan continues to work in the same kind of action flicks that made him an international star. 2020’s Vanguard becomes his latest effort.
Businessman Qin Guoli (Jackson Lou) notifies authorities about his corrupt former partner Maasym, and this eventually results in Maasym’s death. As retaliation, Massym’s vengeful son Omar (Eyad Hourani) sends mercenaries after Qin and his family.
In an attempt to survive, Qin hires Vanguard, an elite security company headed by Tang Huating (Chan). As Omar‘s goons pursue the Qin clan, Tang and his team work to keep them safe.
Although Jackie Chan stills performs in movies, no one should expect the nimble, risk-taking Chan of legend. Not that I can blame him, as age claims all of us eventually, so it comes as no surprise that Chan can’t perform the same wild stunts of his youth now that he finds himself in his mid-60s.
However, the question then becomes what Chan brings to a movie if he lacks the talents that made him famous. Despite all those roles over the decades, it doesn’t appear Chan ever really bothered to learn how to act, and that becomes an issue when he can no longer dazzle us with his physical prowess.
Since Chan shows weak acting abilities, his presence here becomes justified solely in terms of star power and box office draw. Vanguard needs all the help it can get, as this turns into a borderline unwatchable film,
With its heavy emphasis on action and its variety of locations, Vanguard certainly boasts the potential to deliver an engaging tale. Unfortunately, everything about it feels so cheap and cheesy that it stumbles from start to finish.
Nothing here works. The script feels like a 10-year-old wrote it, as we find clunky, silly dialogue and a borderline incoherent plot.
At its heart, Vanguard brings a simple tale, but it relates the narrative in such a clumsy manner that it rarely makes any sense.
Vanguard comes populated with forgettable, underdrawn characters, and none of the actors show the skills necessary to elevate their roles. All seem amateurish and flat.
Even the action fizzles. We get awkwardly shot fights and beats that lack even the slightest hint of excitement.
All of this adds up to a slow, tedious 107 minutes of attempted entertainment. Vanguard wants to become the Chinese answer to the Fast and Furious series but instead, it just feels like a cheap knockoff.