Vanguard REVIEW – The Quintessential Jackie Chan Flick For 2020

Vanguard has enough twists and turns to keep audiences on the edge of their seats, while telling a very predictable story.

Image from film

Chan Kong-sang (Jackie Chan) exploded onto the big screen in the early 1980s. Known for his experience as a martial artist and comedic actor, Chan gradually became synonymous with beat-em-up films worldwide. Though he announced in 2012 that he was semi-retiring from action films at the age of 58, he continues to go strong as a performer and stuntman in 2020.

His latest film, Vanguard by Stanley Tong, is what anyone can expect from a Jackie Chan flick. There are plenty of fight scenes, shootouts, and car chases with bullet-time effects. Vanguard was originally set to be released in January of this year, but experienced a reasonable delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On the bright side, Vanguard offers a good note to end on in 2020, along with much needed laughter.

Stanley Tong’s film follows a team of highly trained individuals who operate under the private security firm, Vanguard. After a terrorist group kidnaps a high-profile businessman’s daughter, it is up to the Vanguard team – supervised by Tang Huating (Jackie Chan) – to seek out and rescue her before it is too late. Their mission will take them from the deserts of North Africa to the sprawling metropolis of Dubai, and there will be plenty of explosions and bullet casings left in their wake.

Realistically, Vanguard is not anything unique or groundbreaking. It has great visuals and suspenseful moments, but it’s no different than anything we’d see from films made by John Woo or even Michael Bay. This isn’t entirely bad, though. The cast and crew take their jobs seriously, especially when it comes to crafting a suspenseful story. We know what’s going to happen – lady gets kidnapped, fistfights ensue, and the lady is rescued. Thankfully, Vanguard has enough twists and turns to keep audiences on the edge of their seats while telling a very predictable story. Yes, it’s over-the-top at times, but it’s not obnoxious.

Jackie Chan noticeably has a more reserved role in this film. Half of his time is spent either behind a desk or in vehicles, as opposed to fighting on screen. At the age of 66 – along with the fact that he has practically broken every bone as a stuntman for three decades – it’s fitting that Chan is sharing more screen time with a younger generation of actors and actresses, who’re clearly following in his footsteps in this genre.

At the same time, this does Vanguard’s cast a favor. Actors and actresses such as Yang Yang and Miya Muqi have well-defined characters and exciting moments of their own when the action occurs. As the focus is not entirely on Jackie Chan, this allows two generations of performers to work together, and it pays off quite well.

The only quibble one may have with this film is the noticeable usage of stereotypes. Arabs are terrorists or oil barons, Russians are mobsters or arms dealers, Westerners are cowboys or crocodile wranglers, etc. This might make it easier for audiences to bond with certain people, but a little more thought could have gone into them instead of dredging up the worst possible image for certain ethnic groups.

Otherwise, Vanguard is the definition of a popcorn action movie. Anyone wanting a good laugh with a few roundhouse kicks will get it. Even if you’re not into the genre, the film doesn’t have any dull moments. Jackie Chan enthusiasts will not be disappointed while newcomers may find a new guilty pleasure.

Review screener provided.

READ NEXT: 10 Best Action Movies of the 2010s

Some of the coverage you find on Cultured Vultures contains affiliate links, which provide us with small commissions based on purchases made from visiting our site.

Vanguard is as every bit a Jackie Chan action film as can be. There's a lot of crazy stunts sprinkled amongst a silly premise, but it takes itself seriously and doesn't waste anyone's time. Those sensitive to racial stereotyping might raise a red flag in places, though.