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Overall Rating
3.86

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look85.71%
Average: 14.29%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

1 review, 1 rating


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Skiptrace (2016)
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by Jay Seaver

"Tracking down something like classic Jackie Chan action."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2016 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: It's been a while since Jackie Chan has done a pan-Pacific buddy movie like "Skiptrace", and while they're not his most beloved movies, they were often fun, enjoyable larks. He's slowed down a bit in the intervening years, which is a shame - pairing him with Johnny Knoxville is an obvious-in-retrospect bit of casting in terms of the complementary styles of slapstick which both used to thrive on. As much as they're not what they were physically, this movie is generally still an enjoyably goofy bit of entertainment.

It starts in familiar territory, with Hong Kong detective Bennie Chan (Jackie) not arriving in time to save partner Bai Yung (Eric Tsang Chi-wai) from being blown up by a Triad kingpin known only as "The Matador". In the meantime, he's raised Yung's daughter Samantha (Fan Bingbing), and despite his efforts to protect her, she has taken a job in a Macau casino owned by shady tycoon Victor Wong (Winston Chao Wen-hsuan), and where guest Connor Watts (Knoxville) witnesses a crime that may just be the key to finally proving Wong is the Matador. The trouble is, Connor already has the Russian mob after him before the Triads decide they want him dead, which is why Bennie winds up having to drag him back from Siberia, through Mongolia and rural China.

There's a certain logic to teaming Chan and Knoxville up; while the former is known for adding a healthy dose of Buster Keaton to his impressively executed screen fights, the latter is probably still best known for taking punishment on Jackass. Put those skills together with a script that has the characters genuinely disliking each other early on, and you've got a base for knockabout comedy if nothing else. Happily, the filmmakers tend to go for the offbeat way to build a scene whenever they can, making sure to play the film as a comedy with action rather than a thriller with jokes. It's a funny movie throughout, laid back and ready to amuse rather than batter.

Which is not necessarily what one would expect from Renny Harlin - though his recent television work may be an exception, his career has skewed more toward the hard-R action movie with a fairly mean sense of humor. It translates pretty well to offbeat humor that hopefully appeals to both East and West, and he handles the big action scenes well, with two of them particular favorites (one generally big and clever, the other peppered with great little jokes). Chan's choreography isn't quite so athletic as it used to be, but he's still as good at it as anybody, and the film bounces nicely between big stunts, martial arts, other slapstick, and banter to keep things moving, even when things don't entirely make sense, the movie starts to feel a little too much like a Chinese travelogue, or the plot pushes the jokes out of the way.

Jackie Chan has been making a bid to be a somewhat more serious actor of late, and so his cop is more obsessed than wacky this time around, and his abrasiveness is nicely done, a good complement to the motormouthed Knoxville, who knows just how much of a jerk Connor can be before he's not fun any more. Making it a road movie does mean that the rest of the cast gets a bit underused, with just occasional jumps back to check in on Victor and Samantha, though Winston Chao and Fan Bingbing do well with those standard parts. The breakout star is probably Eve Torres Gracie, a former WWE Diva who seems to be having a blast as the henchwoman who spends the most time going toe-to-toe with Jackie even as her tight outfits make it uncomfortable for him; she's not a great actress yet, but the filmmakers know how to use her and she's a hoot.

Ten or fifteen years ago, "Skiptrace" would have been a really big deal with even more great slapstick and action; now it's an entertaining reminder of the stars' heyday that nevertheless shows that they still know their stuff and can deliver given decent material. It's certainly a fun entry on an otherwise quiet weekend.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=30567&reviewer=371
originally posted: 09/03/16 14:04:08
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2016 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the 2016 Fantasia International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

12/26/16 mr.mike Fair to middling action effort. 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  02-Sep-2016 (PG-13)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  02-Sep-2016


Directed by
  Renny Harlin

Written by
  Jay Longino
  BenDavid Grabinski

Cast
  Jackie Chan
  Johnny Knoxville
  Bingbing Fan
  Eric Tsang



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