Vanguard

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It became a staple of the early, funny Jackie Chan pictures: the cutaway to a Chief of Police looking on in disbelief — generally through a windshield or office glass partition — as our hero did his thing, corkscrewing through the air like a citrus twist tossed into a freshly-shaken martini. Vanguard is a rearwards move towards the inevitable advancement of time, one in which the once vital action star becomes the guy in the three-piece suit who once mocked him. This is by no means intended to cast ageist aspersions on Stuntmaster Chan. Sad though it may be to see the innovator lending his name to the kind of derivative sludge that inspired his call to action in the first place, my argument isn’t against Jackie. (The film’s biggest laugh comes at the good natured expense of Jackie’s age: glancing over the railing of a first floor landing before taking a leap, he wisely makes a dash for the stairs.) What places Vanguard at the rear of the train is the cardboard script, plus feeble special effects that don’t stop at the CG FAO Schwarz fauna. This is the seventh collaboration between Jackie and writer-director Stanley Tong (Supercop, First Strike, Rumble in the Bronx). Jackie is a hero, and as shamefaced as it makes me to criticize one of his films, this one stinks. (2020) — Scott Marks

Rated NR | 1 hour, 48 minutes
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