Jackie Chan has been around for years, going back to the start of his career in 1971’s Bruce Lee-led action-drama “Chinese Connection.” Chan has been a part of the American film scene for generations.
With director Martin Campbell at the helm, Chan headlines the action-drama “The Foreigner.” Chan’s character, Ngoc Minh Quan, has a teenage daughter who unexpectedly dies in a terrorist incident in Great Britain. Chan’s co-star is Pierce Brosnan as Liam Hennessy, a higher-up in the British government.
Quan wants answers about his daughter’s death but Hennessy won’t give in to his demands. Instead, Hennesy treats him as a second-class citizen, pushing him to the side because he has better things to do with his time.
All of that changes though when Quan places a bomb near Hennessy’s office, showing that he would like answers about his daughter’s death.
Essentially, this is a cat-and-mouse game with Quan trying to find answers and a way to avenge his daughter’s death.
As director, Campbell knows how to shoot action sequences. Gone are the days of bad camera angles when directors didn’t know how to film a karate fight. Campbell knows the nuances and where to place the cameras, in action sequences and when to just let the camera observe the action. Also woven into the storyline are shades of betrayal and incest. They add a nice touch to the story and flesh out the characters' motivations. In the end, there is quite a bit of death involved.
“The Foreigner” works in part because composer Cliff Martinez knows how to create atmosphere in his composition. It reminisces composers like Lalo Schifiran who scored movies like 1971’s “Dirty Harry” with Clint Eastwood, “Battle Creek Brawl” in 1980 and Chan’s biggest American movie to date with “Rush Hour” in 1998. Essentially, Martinez has a score that is on par with Schifiran’s compositions.
Chan received an honorary Oscar in early 2017. It was presented by one of his biggest fans, Oscar-winning writer-director Quentin Tarantino.
I met Chan when he came through Dallas on a junket for his movie “Rumble in the Bronx.” I was making a magazine titled Hong Kong Film Connection with some friends and colleagues. Issues of our magazine are in The Smithsonian Institution. This was a big deal because at the time Hong Kong was in transition from the British Empire to Chinese control. The magazine was short-lived, but significant enough to find a place in the Smithsonian.
“The Foreigner” does what it’s supposed to do by re-introducing action star Chan to an American audience. At age 63, he can still hold his own in both the action and drama.