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12. Vanguard; movie review

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Title : 12. Vanguard; movie review
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Cert TBA
107 mins
BBFC advice: TBA

"I love it when a plan comes together."
For a second, it felt all that was missing from Jackie Chan's replica of the A-Team was George Peppard's famous catchphrase.
Ok, Vanguard didn't have characters quite as quirky as Murdoch or BA - instead pretty much everyone, except Chan was as pleasing on the camera as The Face.
And the link with the A-Team might be a little tenuous but I have been trying to find a remotely interesting line from a desperately dull film.
What surprised me most about Stanley Tong's film is its lack of ambition.
Why aren't the writers challenged to produce a pithier dialogue or the actors set a much higher bar in terms of their delivery?
And why are the fight scenes so hammy and, by 2021 standards, why is the CGI so clunky?
Vanguard's best scenes are early on when a rich businessman (Jackson Lou) and his wife are kidnapped in London on Chinese New Year.
Two agents of the Vanguard secret security team (Yang Yang and Ai Lun) are called to the scene and show off their particular set of skills.
Then the action moves to Africa where a threat hangs over the businessman's daughter (Xu Ruohan), a conservationist who protects endangered wildlife.
So, inevitably, when Chan leads a team to protect her CGI lions are involved in the fighting.
During many movies computer-generated imagery is a wonderful addition because it is so difficult to spot the difference between it and reality.
Here, it looks as if it has been slung together by someone who has only had a laptop for a month. Even the car chases are risible because they are so jerky.
Indeed, they resulted in us laughing at Vanguard not with it and those embarrassed giggles continued when the finale moves to Dubai where the ultra-stereotypical villain (Eyad Hourani) snarls as if he is in pantomime.
Vanguard overflows with movie cliches and yet Chan's fans have spent $50m watching it at cinemas despite the pandemic.
Although he is too old to get the girl or even be central to the fighting, the twinkle in his eye still attracts an audience.
But even his most ardent supporters could not have thought this was up to scratch, surely?

Reasons to watch: Jackie Chan movie
Reasons to watch: Disappointingly dull

Laughs: None
Jumps: None
Vomit: None
Nudity: None
Overall rating: 3/10

Did you know? For 2012’s Chinese Zodiac, Chan earned a Guinness World Record for most credits (15) in a single film. In addition to directing, producing, and acting, he is also credited as fight choreographer, composer, art director, unit production manager, gaffer, theme tune vocalist, writer, cinematographer, stuntman, prop work, and catering coordinator.

The final word. Stanley Tong: "The genre that Jackie and I do best is action-comedy. Now we're grooming talent for new action films, but they are not trained to become the next Jackie. When Bruce Lee passed away, many people wanted to become his successor but none of them succeeded. Jackie is successful because he has chosen to be himself." China Daily

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