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Skiptrace movie review: Hey Jackie Chan, you deserve better

Aleesha Matharu | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:46 IST

While watching Skiptrace, you're constantly left thinking about Shanghai Noon and Rush Hour - the two of Jackie Chan's biggest worldwide hits that saw him paired with a comedic co-star.

But Renny Harlin's Skiptrace lacks the very chemistry that should have been its core - a chemistry Owen Wilson and Chris Tucker made look so easy.

So what we're left with is two actors - Chan and Jackass' Johnny Knoxville - who don't really click together, in a plot that's reminiscent of countless buddy movies where both heroes are reluctant.

The end result largely annoying movie that is mechanical and tedious to sit through.

The story goes like this: Jackie Chan is Bennie Chan, a slightly sour and earnest Hong Kong detective. His goal is to catch a mysterious crime boss known as 'The Matador' - who may or may not be businessman Victor Wong (Winston Chao).

Why is he so hellbent on putting this evil criminal away? Well, 9 years ago, after his partner Yung (Eric Tsang) was trapped and killed by The Matador, Chan swore to protect his daughter Samantha (Fan Bingbing). Moving back to present day, now that she's in Victor Wong's clutches, Chan's only hope is to track down American conman Connor Watts (Johnny Knoxville), who has evidence that could incriminate the Matador.

But that's not the easy part is it? Especially since it's Johnny Knoxville that he's got to deal with. Watts obviously does not want to follow Chan to Hong Kong and is trying to make his own escape - he's being hunted by the Russian mob, because surprise surprise, he knocked up the daughter of the kingpin.

Chan, who's now in his sixties, isn't as agile as we've always seen him. The fight sequences are stiff, but that should be expected right? "You ain't no spring chicken anymore," trolls Knoxville's Connor, but that's true isn't it?

But he still manages bring it in quintessential Jackie-Chan style - the Kung-Fu master that the world fell in love with right from his old Chinese movies till his big Hollywood days.

(Jackie Chan, you really deserve a better script. Don't let this be your last movie, please choose the next one a little more wisely).

Knoxville does his best, too, but it is hard to swallow his character as a smooth-talking charmer. Worse, his chemistry with Chan never fully takes hold and that is the basic demand of a bro comedy.

The villains are a take on your old school Kung-fu villains. The henchmen particularly are just clear-cut caricatures.

Still, there were a few pleasurable aspects to the film. It's got a vague sort of travelogue construct - so you get to visit the interiors of China in ways you haven't seen before. The cultures and traditions of the land are given some light of day. In fact, one entire chase scene is built around the traditions of the region where it takes place - from literal mud-slinging to having to sing a song to be granted passage.

But even some of these scenes are bastardised for western audiences with he obvious goal of connecting to international audiences - like when Chan drunkenly sings Adele's Rolling in theDeep while sitting in Mongolia.

The verdict

Skiptrace is weighed down by a lack of chemistry between its leads, but saved by Jackie Chan's ever-reliable action work, and an enjoyable travelogue angle.

Just skip it.

RATING: 1.5 out of 5

First published: 2 September 2016, 7:36 IST
Aleesha Matharu @almatharu

Born in Bihar, raised in Delhi and schooled in Dehradun, Aleesha writes on a range of subjects and worked at The Indian Express before joining Catch as a sub-editor. When not at work you can find her glued to the TV, trying to clear a backlog of shows, or reading her Kindle. Raised on a diet of rock 'n' roll, she's hit occasionally by wanderlust. After an eight-year stint at Welham Girls' School, Delhi University turned out to be an exercise in youthful rebellion before she finally trudged her way to J-school and got the best all-round student award. Now she takes each day as it comes, but isn't an eternal optimist.