Director Stanley Tong (Rumble in the Bronx) reunites with superstar actor Jackie Chan (Rush Hour) for their seventh – and probably least memorable – collaboration. Vanguard takes the pair on their familiar path of high-octane action and a wafer-thin plot, but with plenty of explosions along the way. Thankfully the film doesn’t take itself so seriously, allowing Chan a couple of invitations to crack wise and find some laughs among the noisy tedium.
The famous actor plays Huanting Tang, head of the revered Vanguard private security firm. The protagonist and his crew are set the task of rescuing the kidnapped accountant Guoli Qin and his young wife from the nondescript Middle Eastern terrorist group: the Brotherhood of Vengeance. What follows is a cross-continental chase that ploughs through the movie’s considerable budget, and even more gunpowder, as the good guys track down the antagonists. A naked political agenda reinforcing Chinese moral correctitude makes the feature an uncomfortable, quite ugly watch. It’s difficult to escape the feeling this is just lazy propaganda intended to enrapture cinema audiences.
This proud patriotism is rammed down the audience’s throats at almost every juncture, save for the few slapstick, humourous moments. Some ridiculous CGI scenes tread the line between hilarious and bewildering. These segments combined with, and often an essential part of, some chaotic chase sequences are about as exciting as Vanguard gets.
Clunky dialogue riddles the movie, symptomatic of a lazy, clichéd plot. The aforementioned dullness surrounds the script. The Vanguard team traipses across the globe blowing things up in all the essential places for an international thriller: London, Dubai and, of course, a faceless, imaginary African country. But for all of the picture’s worldwide adventure, it follows a route mapped by a million other prosaic action features, replete with all of the usual trite trappings.
Vanguard is released digitally on demand on 8th January 2021.
Watch the trailer for Vanguard here: