film was made possible by the global economy. It was directed by a Finn famous
for blowing things up and stars a Hong Konger beloved for giving up his body
and a Tennessean who made a name for himself getting racked in the jewels on
MTV. As an added bonus, it also features probably the world’s most popular
actress in a supporting role. Jackie Chan and Johnny Knoxville bring the buddy
movie action-comedy in Renny Harlin’s Skiptrace (trailer
which opens this Friday in New York.
Watts is a conman who has no problem with the “ugly American” label.
Unfortunately, he scams the wrong hotel casino in Macau. The business manager
happens to be Samantha, the goddaughter of Hong Kong’s most obsessive cop,
Benny Chan. Chan will not rest until he brings Watts to justice, but the Yank
has good reason to keep his distance. As fate would have it, he happened to
witness a murder committed by shadowy businessman Victor Wong, whom Chan has long
suspected of being the drug lord who murdered Samantha’s father, his former
even has potential evidence locked in the cell phone the murdered woman lifted
from the so-called “Matador.” Of course, the cop and the robber have diametrically
opposed goals and motivations, but Watts will eventually get with the
crime-stopping program after a few close shaves. He would also like to impress
the lovely Samantha, assuming he can avoid a Russian mobster’s shotgun wedding plans.
pairing of Chan and Knoxville might not inspire much confidence, but they play
off each other quite well. There is no shortage of bickering and bantering in Skiptrace, but fortunately there is
just as much fighting. You could say both co-leads are unusually experienced
when it comes to physical comedy—and have the scars to prove it. That
flexibility and high tolerance for pain serves them well in some vintage Jackie
Chan fight scenes. One sequence in particular choreographed around an assembly
line clearly evokes Chaplinesque echoes.
finds a terrific sparring partner in WWE veteran Eve Torres, playing Dasha, the
Russian enforcer, whom his character ironically resists fighting because she is
a woman (right, good luck with that). Eventually, Torres also quite
entertainingly takes on Zhang Lanxin cast as the Matador’s chief henchperson. The
luminous Fan Bingbing manages to elevate the underwritten role of Samantha
through her sheer start presence. She didn’t get to be the biggest name in the
business by sheer accident. Serious HK action fans will also enjoy seeing Eric
Tsang and Michael Wong appear as Chan’s late partner and his crooked police
captain (of course, he is corrupt, he is played by Michael Wong—no spoiler
We have been down this road of beatdowns and
gags with Jackie Chan before, but it all works pretty well this time around.
Harlin shows wise restraint in some scenes, like the Mongolian Adele
sing-along, just going for a fun vibe rather than yuckety-yuck laughs. Fun
really is the apt word to describe Skiptrace.
It never transcends genre (would we even want it to?), but it just clicks.
Recommended for martial arts and Jackass
fans, Skiptrace opens this Friday
(9/2) in New York, at the AMC Empire.
Labels: Eve Torres, Fan Bingbing, Jackie Chan, Martial arts cinema, Michael Wong, Renny Harlin