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Jackie Chan’s Skiptrace Is Eminently Skip-worthy!

Movie Review: Skiptrace

Starring: Jackie Chan, Johnny Knoxville, Fan Bingbing

Directed by: Renny Harlin

Movie Review: At 62, and with 40 years of superstardom under his black belt, shouldn’t Jackie Chan think of graduating away from the juvenile cinema that he  did  10 , 5 and 2 years ago ? Chan insists on playing versions of The Boy Who Won’t Be Man action-hero. He is an oddball goofy stunt man stunted by his own inability to stop admiring his innocence in the mirror of his ego.

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In Skiptrace Jackie Chan refuses to beat up women repeatedly pleading it’s against his principle.Lest you believe that Chan thinks women are for breeding and not for bleeding, be warned that he shows no interest in sex. He never has.

Principle of ahimsa towards womankind goes for a toss(and a hurl) when  a fiercely militant Siberian female assassin attacks Chan headlong. What can a poor man do if a woman is all over him? Expectantly it is all over for the Siberian chick, who, incidentally, is the most interesting character in Skiptrace. Worryingly,there isn’t much of her beauty and  her fist to feast on.Chan likes to keep his action free of sex.

The focus is almost entirely on….take  a guess….yup ,our child-hero Mr Chan who is as big a Baba as our Sanjuthough Chan hasn’t gone to places that our Baba has.

The film begins with a spectacular shootout somewhere  in China where our hero jumps from one wooden house to another as the structures come tumbling down one after another….Almost like this film’s breathless but pointless narrative edifice which goes from stunt to stunt without achieving much in the way of a satisfactory closure.

Skiptrace is a series of action sequences strung together clumsily over a plot that seems to have been written in a sauna bath one lazy Sunday afternoon. Jackie Chan of course gets lead billing in almost every scene. He is to be applauded even he is picking his nose or picking our brains(his choice).The American actor  Johnny Knoxville who looks like a jaded avatar of  Jim Carrey,partners Chan in the tireless tomfoolery that takes them through a turgid terrain teeming with  trite episodes  appropriated from the Spaghetti Western.

What Jackie Chan aims at telling the audience is that Chinese noodles and Italian Spaghetti are close country-cousins. He  mixes the traditional Kung Fu genre of Bruce Lee(where Chan started his career) with the buddy-buddy comedy Spaghetti Westerns of Bud Spenser and Terence Hill. There are constant allusions to  love loyalty kindness compassion—in brief , Oriental values packaged as exotica for Western audiences—but very little discipline or selfcontrol is evidenced in the storytelling.

Interestingly Jackie Chan has no love-interest as his character shows no interest in love except for a foster-daughter Samantha(Fan BingBing) who epitomizes the spirit  of Damsel In Distress as she gets into trouble with the Chinese mafia. Uncle Jackie must protect his foster-daughter whose father’s wrist watch he wears as a lucky charm.

Even Anees Bazmi would squirm at these outdated attempts at generating drama from the depths of drollery.

Renny Harlin never known to be an intellectual thinker of celluloid(think Diehard), lets the narrative meander through  a train of limpid tropes associated with Jackie Chan’s funny-fist-of-fury films. Sure, the 62-year old superstar still kicks groins with procreative enthusiasm. But is this what he wants to do for the rest of his career?

Think, Mr Chan, think.

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