Skiptrace Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Jackie Chan, Johnny Knoxville, Bingbing Fan, Eve Torres, Eric Tsang
  • Director: Renny Harlin
  • Format: NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Lionsgate
  • Release Date: October 25, 2016
  • Run Time: 98 minutes

        Skiptrace feels like a movie made 15 years ago, and in many ways I mean that as a compliment. There is also a valid reason for the feeling of nostalgia brought on by this film, as it rejoins star Jackie Chan with director Renny Harlin, who were originally in the process of planning a film to take place on the World Trade Center when the attacks of 9/11 occurred. That film was understandably scrapped, and Chan went on to make The Tuxedo instead, which was the beginning of Chan’s shift from the physical comedy of his own stunt work to a reliance on CGI to make up for the growing limitations of his age. But despite being made a decade and a half after The Tuxedo, Skiptrace feels like a return to the signature Jackie Chan style.

        With a familiar buddy-action narrative that falls somewhere between derivative and nostalgic in its simplicity, Skiptrace follows the unlikely pairing between a by-the-book police officer and an unlikely wisecracking partner. Hong Kong detective Benny Chan (Chan) is on a dedicated mission to seek justice for the murder of his partner at the hands of a ruthless drug lord. When an American gambler and general lowlife Connor Watts (Johnny Knoxville) accidentally obtains evidence against that drug lord, Chan is forced to team up with him. Together they must survive an onslaught of attacks and conspiracies brought against them by the powerful crime boss, forcing the two opposing characters into an odd coupling and familiar story structure.
        The film crosses more than one cultural divide, setting part of the film in Russia for a sub-plot involving Connor’s backstory. Various versions of this film may exist depending on the country of release, but I can only judge the American release which chooses to dub over the Chinese sections of the film rather than use subtitles. Fortunately, most of these sequences take place near the beginning of the film and an be forgotten with enough escapist spectacle. A majority of the movie turns into something of a road trip film through China, Russia and Mongolia, with Chan and Knoxville as the primary characters in each scene.

        Chan is still able to deliver comedic lines in broken English, a skill that has not waned since his early days in American film. But even more impressive in Skiptrace is the reminder that Chan has also lost none of his abilities with physical humor. Even if he can no longer perform the larger scale stunts on his own, Chan is as adept at handling the smaller gags as he ever was. Among these is a sequence involving a large set of Russian nesting dolls that is as memorable as any of Chan’s best bits with objects. This skill places him among the greats of comedy that have consistently inspired his work. Unfortunately, not much of Skiptrace has the same level of comedic creativity, but there are flashes of genius which make this a must-see for fans. Even if it never reaches the level of innovation that early Jackie Chan movies had, Skiptrace is easily the best thing the martial arts legend has done in years (with the possible exception of his voice-work contribution to the Kung-Fu Panda franchise).

        The Blu-ray release for Skiptrace comes with a Digital HD copy of the film, along with a couple special features. “When Jackie Met Johnny” is a 5-minute featurette with interviews from both of the stars talking about each other, inter-cut with footage from the film. There is also a commentary track from director Renny Harlin. 

Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6/10
Historical Significance:  5.5/10
Special Features: 4.5/10

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