Skiptrace (Movie Review)

Jackie Chan’s back with another American

Skiptrace stars a world-known megastar Jackie Chan (and you prolly haven’t seen him since the last Rush Hour movie you saw) and a less-known (to the world) American Jackass star Johnny Knoxville. To be honest, I was genuinely surprised to see Knoxville in the poster along with Jackie Chan. (I was brought to this movie by my parents who are big fans of Chan.)

The two aging leading men basically play a version of themselves on screen. Chan’s character is very much alike to that in Rush Hour, (he’s a Hong Kong cop who speaks in Chinese for whatever reason; and not Cantonese — the language spoken in Hong Kong) while Knoxville’s character is… well, the stereotypical American buddy (think Owen Wilson in Shanghai Noon).

The film itself is nothing extraordinary: messy plot, cliche jokes, flat characters, lame buddy-cop banters, underdeveloped romantic interest, and let’s not forget that plot twist that doesn’t make any single sense. I would almost call it boring if it wasn’t for Jackie Chan’s signature comedic stunts.

But the biggest problem of all, Skiptrace has an audience dilemma problem. It isn’t sure whether to sell itself to Chinese or American audiences. On Wikipedia, it was described as a “Hong Kong-Chinese-American action comedy film.” (And that’s a lot of countries.) To be fair, most of the movie takes place *around* China (Mongolia, Russia, Macau, and Hong Kong, to be exact), so it’s safe to consider that it is a Chinese movie.

However, 60% of the movie’s dialogue is spoken in English, including all of the lines in Hong Kong’s Police Department. That bugs me. My mom is of a Hong Kong descent and I have been to Hong Kong myself. So why on Earth would they speak English there and not Cantonese? Why do the people in Hong Kong speak Chinese and not Cantonese? Why do you ask Jackie Chan to speak Chinese instead of his mother-tongue language of Cantonese?! It’s almost as if the writers didn’t do any research before writing this movie. (I checked their IMDb pages, and it turned out that this is their first major writing gig. No wonder.) There’s also the case of Knoxville making jokes and references that only Americans would get.

Overall, the movie is a major mediocrity. There were some great action sequences and beautiful scenic shots, but on the other hand: messy plot, bad VFX, underdeveloped character, questionable dialogues, etc. (Even my parents who barely watch any movies say that this movie “lacks any story.”) So, if you’re a major Jackie Chan fan, I would highly suggest this movie just for the cool stunts and some laughs. If not, then don’t bother at all. Maybe watch it on a plane ride to Hong Kong, while you learn some Cantonese.

Skiptrace | ★★☆☆☆

USA Release: 9/2/2016

Director: Renny Harlin, Starring: Jackie Chan & Johnny Knoxville

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