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Veteran Hong Kong action director Stanley Tong reunites with his longtime star Jackie Chan for this amiable but rather under-par adventure with silly CGI effects. Chan is allowed one or two comedy moments, but takes a very straight and stately role as Tang, the “elder statesman”-type director of an elite private security firm called Vanguard, presiding over tough, battle-ready and apparently also catwalk-ready young people – and occasionally pulling a few martial arts moves. In his trim three-piece suit and glasses, however, he looks faintly like Ronnie Corbett.
A Chinese accountant and his young wife are kidnapped in London’s Chinatown and Vanguard (with its preposterous HQ full of people wearing phone headsets and gazing at computer screens) is tasked with rescuing him, his wife and his winsome daughter, who is doing laudable conservation work in a nation state referred to initially as “Africa”. She is also vulnerable to abduction as she frolics with CGI big cats in Lion King world. Tang and his crew toughly resolve to rescue their man, while frowning at his supposedly unwitting links with arms dealers, the source of all his woes.
Their adventure takes them all over the world, from London (where Chinatown and Buckingham Palace are apparently adjacent) to a fictional land that looks vaguely like Zambia and then to the ineffably boring but wealthy world of Dubai. The scene with a jetski on the edge of a waterfall deserves points, but this feels disposable: the Chinese New Year is earnestly referenced as part of the film’s strident and faintly humourless patriotism.
• Vanguard is in cinemas and on digital formats from 8 January.
Source: The Guardian
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