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Kick'em In The Ghoulies

"It's The Only Way To Survive"

DVD Review

(c) 2020 CineAsia  / China Film International

VANGUARD - 2020 

There's always excitement when a new Jackie film gets released. Unfortunately for Vanguard it was a film for Chinese New Year 2020 and as the Covid Pandemic escalated the films premier and general worldwide release was postponed. 

So knowing of the film and seeing the trailers only made us more impatient to see it.  Finally getting a Cinema release before Christmas in China / Hong  Kong and the USA and performing OK , but not breaking any box office records. 

But I also believe box office while the pandemic is going on is probably not as it should be for any film.


As with many of the the Fear Eastern films the DVD/Bluray release followed swiftly in the East and surprisingly in the West with the UK DVD getting it's release on 11th January 2021, the Bluray will follow on the 25th January.

Now like Quite a few films from the region  the films cinematic release was shot for 3D. And like all past Western releases of these films on Bluray they never release the 3D versions in the West. If you want to watch the film in 3D your need to import the Asian Bluray and have a region free Bluray player to play it. 

The last Jackie Chan film to do this was CZ12 , the sections of film which focus on 3D are filmed for that effect and don't always come across well in standard 2D. So upon finding this out i Was glad i went the DVD route as it was half the price and I don't think it would have made that much difference to me .

Vanguard is directed by Stanley Tong and this is the sixth film he has done with Jackie , Kung Fu Yoga being his last in 2017. 

Compared to other recent Jackie Chan films I would say this is pretty much old school in the way it's filmed , only Kung Fu Yoga is similar because it's by the same director . Also lucky enough the UK release has not been trimmed it has the same running time as it's Asian releases .

There are Pro's and Con's to the film , for fans of Late 90's  early Millennium Hong Kong action Vanguard delivers, but for fans of Jackie's recent films like The Foreigner , Railroad Tigers or even The Knights Between Shadows of Ying and Yang where Jackie tries something different as he gets older may find Vanguard like a 90 minute action trailer. 

For any body expecting films like anything from Jackie's prime like Police Story or Armour of God please wake up  the man was Sixty Six years old when he made Vangaurd and will be Sixty Seven in April.

Now Vanguard also stars Yang Yang a relatively huge star in China ,Hong Kong and South Korea. Yang Yang will have all the younger female fans watching , he is famous for many TV series in China and one we have reviewed on site , the first season of Takwondo Girl ( Whirlwind Girl) where he played Ruo Bai . In 2018 he starred in the first of three planned seasons of TV Fantasy drama Martial Universe.


So What is the premise of VANGUARD

Vangaurd is a Chinese Security company situated in London , Now I did not see that coming.  It;s set around the Chinese New Year celebrations in London's China Town. 


Jackie plays the Head of Vanguard Tang Huanting with Yang Yang as one of his agents Lei Zhenyu. Also appearing as female agent is Miya Muqi a Chinese dancer , Yoga and Taekwondo Instructor who starred with Jackie in Kung Fu Yoga.


When a Chinese Accountant in London is approached by a terrorist organisation to finance their cause , the accountant who has informed the Police gets kidnapped in China Town while the New Year festival is on . But watching are Vangaurd who through CCTV is monitoring the area and capture the Kidnapping in Progress. Vanguard is alerted and Tang gets his team to go in for the rescue. 


After a daring rescue , which has some good shots of London's China Town , which I was quite surprised to see. 


Now The terrorists want their finance and send a mob after the accountants daughter who happens to be in Africa on a nature reserve .


Vanguard is sent to get to the daughter before the terrorist do in a bid to save her .


Playing out much like most Stanley Tong films , Vanguard is a globetrotting extravaganza but on a budget. With filming in London, Dubai and other work in studio .


After getting to the accountants daughter Fareeda  with little or no time to spare the Terrorists and Vanguard agents enter into a battle where they must overcome each other and the local wild life. 


The big set piece here is the chase on to a river which  leads to a water fall . There are some really cool scenes here and shows that as far as choreographing and setting up the action   the combination of Stanley Tong and Jackie Chan and his stunt team do come up with fresh content.


But it's also here where it nearly all came to a end. when performing a stunt on a jet Ski for the Water Fall scene , which i will add is done by CGI as no one in the world could do it as it was shown in the film. 


The piece in question was filmed up river to show Tang and Mi Ya who are in a chase with terrorists navigate the waterfall. 


What seemed a simple stunt for Jackie , much like the Armour of God one . it all went awry when the Jet ski capsizes and Jackie an his colleague go under ,but Jackie don't come back up . 


The end credits show the crew rush to rescue Jackie who seems to be under the water for ages. He must have great lungs I tell ya. You also see the how close Jackie thought he was to the end in the outtakes as he is brought ashore looking slightly dishevelled and very cold and wet. 


After this the film shifts to the far east as Tang and his team have to confront the Terrorist leader and it's here that the film takes a slightly darker tone in places.  And the action hots up in a full scale mini war on terrorism as Tang and his team go head to head with not just fists but Machine Guns, Rocket launchers and whatever. 


You can see where the money was spent on the film because the action come thick and fast.


But remember it's not just Jackie but Yang Yang who gets to shine and he does do his own stunts to a degree. , this is also shown on the outtakes. 


It does seem that Jackie's role was more towards the beginning of the film with Yang Yang getting the later half of the film. 


The story shifts once again as we head to Dubai  in what becomes like a showcase for the worlds most expensive cars and a chance for the crew and cast to have some fun , but this also where much CGI is used as they where not going to risk millions of pounds worth of cars. 


But Unlike say the Fast and Furious the special effects are lacking also the choice of colours for some of the cars do cause the screen to look odd at times , but these where real cars they shot and you can see even in the outtakes it must have been hard to eliminate the glare , a strange choice , it's a bit like the old adage ,don't wear a dog tooth jacket or suit on camera as it looks really odd  .


The CGI sections looked they need more work in post production then it got , but i guess budget is a budget and as it is recorded that Jackie earn't around $12 Million for his role I guess that was a sizeable amount of the budget there.


But then he did nearly drown , so I give him that.


 
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(c) 2020  China Film International 

Media Co Ltd

China Film Co Ltd

Tencent Pictures Culture

Media Company Limited

Shanghai Lix

Entertainment Co Ltd

Epitome Capitol Ltd

Shenzhen Media Film and Television Company

 CineAsia 


 
 

Credits


Year: 2020


Director : Stanley Tong 


Producer : Stanley Tong / Barbie Tung


Written By : Stanley Tong 



Starring : 

Jackie Chan  / Fady Zaky / Yang Yang  / Miya Muqi / Ai Lun 


Running Time : 108 Minutes


Language :  Mandarin / English / Arabic


Production Company : China Film International 

Media Co Ltd

China Film Co Ltd

Tencent Pictures Culture

Media Company Limited

Shanghai Lix

Entertainment Co Ltd

Epitome Capitol Ltd

Shenzhen Media Film and Television Company


Publisher : CineAsia 



 

Should you watch Vanguard ?

As a action film to pass just over 90 minutes , and it's just over 90's minutes with out the credits and outtakes. Vanguard is a fun action film.  The fight action from Jackie , Yang Yang , Miya Muqi and the JC stunt team is excellent.  They just seem to get all the fight action right. Even Yang Yang gets to shine in some really complex scenes , there's no long drawn out fights , it's all small segments of action from all the cast intertwined. But this is pretty much a trademark of Stanley Tong's action film work. You either love it or don't .


Many will state that Jackie does not get to do anything in the last action scene , which is a shame but I guess it's not just about Jackie anymore but about giving a springboard to these new stars , which I for one am all for. 


I would rather see Jackie and his Stunt Team work with the new talent and have Jackie do what he can  then have a film where Jackie goes around in a wheel chair hitting people with a walking stick. 


First and foremost Vanguard is full of action and yes the story is little more then fodder to bolster the next action scene , but if your a Jackie Chan fan and know  of Stanley Tong then your know what to expect.  Is it the best film he has done in recent years  ? , no I don't think so , I feel the likes of The Foreigner , Railroad Tigers where exceptionally good. 


I mean there's still a couple of Jackie's films i have yet to see that where filmed in the past few years like Skip Trace and the more recent Namyia. I do like that Jackie experiments with different directors like Ding Sheng, Renny Harlin , Martin Campbell and Leo Zhang. They give opportunity for Jackie to diversify . But i always look forward to Jackie's collaborations with Stanley Tong because I know the type of film I am going to get before I load up the DVD .


My only gripe with Vanguard and it's a small one is the basis of the  story of which is run of the mill has a lot of similarities in it's premise to the Chinese TV series Hot Girl ( which we recently reviewed ) , which is about a elite protection unit that undertake various missions. It's also worth noting that Jackie Chan had worked on a film with the lead of that series , Dilraba Dilmurat .


Vanguard won't win any awards and Unfortunately none of Jackie's films in the last five or six years have .

But look past the story which is pretty much run of the mill action fodder and some poor choice in some of the CGI post production and Vanguard is enjoyable ,  and yes I would watch it again as I'm sure there's bits I missed. 


The last film that Jackie got awards for was in 2012 and that was CZ12. And that was a film Jackie starred in , Produced and Directed. Proving once again that only Jackie Chan can direct Jackie Chan and fully get it right. 


Of note Jackie is Producing and Directing a story which he has written called The Diary , but he will not be starring in this movie , though I would like to see it just to see Jackie try something new. 


Review By Sertes Nake 


Date of Review : 14-01-2021

Jackie Chan

Actor, Martial artist , Singer, Stuntman , Philanthropist 

One man who needs no introduction , his name says it all. After  more then fifty years in the Action film Industry and more then 120 films Jackie Chan is still cracking away at his passion .

Yang Yang 

Actor, Model , Singer

Born in 1991 , Yang Yang was taught at the Peoples Liberation Army Arts College and the Central Academy for Arts. 
Having his first acting role in 2007 when he was chosen to star in The Dreams of the Red Mansion.
Since then he has starred in Countless TV series including Taekwondo Girl and Martial Universe. 

Miya Muqi 

Actress, Martial Artsist , Model , Yoga Teacher , Dance Instructor 

Actress and Athlete who is Known as the Goddess of Yoga in her home region . Started Modelling at the age of 14 . Learned Dance and Taekwondo . And is a professional Dance Instructor and Yoga teacher .
Previously starred with Jackie Chan in Kung Fu Yoga.

Ai Lun

Actor

Born in 1983 Ai Lun got his first role in 2002 in a stage play after having studied at  the Beijing Film Academy. Having starred in TV shows and Film over the years he has quite a repertoire behind him.  
 

Stanley Tong

Director  , Writer , Producer

Hong Kong based Film Director who started out working for his brother in law who was a film maker. He financed his first project which got him noticed by Golden Harvest , there excellent Stone Age Warriors with the then unknown Fan Siu Wong.
Since then he has continued to direct many films , many who has starred Jackie Chan from the 3rd of the Police Story Series and Jackie's breakthrough film for the USA , Rumble in the Bronx .
Jackie and Tong have continued to collaborate and Vanguard sees their sixth film together. Other films from Tong include Project S , a spin off of the Police Story series with Michele Yeoh in the lead. China Strike Force with Arron Kwok and Tong has also directed a couple of episodes of the Sammo Hung CBS series Martial Law.