HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:68
Oh how the mighty have fallen. It’s really difficult to watch the career lows of one of my favorite action stars. Not to mention the career lows of one of my favorite 80’s and 90’s action directors as well. This being the unfortunate case with actor Jackie Chan and director Renny Harlin. Both are the inspiration for many a fantastic childhood memory with films like “Rush Hour”, “Rumble in the Bronx”, “Shanghai Noon”, “Police Story”, “Supercop” and COUNTLESS other films that Chan became a legend off of. Renny Harlin was never a GREAT director, but the man knew how to direct fun movies. “Die Hard 2”, “Cliffhanger”, “The Long Kiss Goodnight”, “Deep Blue Sea” and quite a few more as well. “Skiptrace” is an embarrassing mess of a film that catches both the actor and the director at probably the lowest portion of their respective careers (and each one has had their share of stinkers before), and manages to make even the most diehard Jackie Chan fan hang their head and sigh with disappointment.
Playing out like a mixture of “Rush Hour” and “Midnight Run” (or “48 Hours” or “The Gauntlet” or even “Shanghai Noon”), “Skiptrace” puts us right into the movie with Bennie Chan (Jackie, although that is his son’s name) watching his partner Yung (venerable Asian star Eric Tsang) get set up by a mysterious Hong Kong mob boss named The Matador. Plunging to his death, Tsang begs Chan to take care of his daughter Sammie (Bingbing Fan) leaving Chan with nothing left but revenge. 9 years later he is STILL chasing down The Matador, but no one believes that this mysterious man even exists. No proof has ever been levied against him and even his police chief (played by American/Asian actor Michael Wong) doesn’t believe him.
Then we have Connor Watts. An American con man who is out to make a quick buck in Macau. Unfortunately Connor sees a murder that he shouldn’t see and has The Matador’s men after him. These same men kidnap Sammie and use her as leverage to make Detective Chan bring back Connor to them, despite his code of honor. What unfolds next is your average love/hate cop/criminal buddy movie that we’ve all seen a thousand times. Chan and Connor have to loathe each other for most of the film and dodge The Matador’s men, as well as a cadre of Russian mobsters who want Mr. Watts back for their OWN nefarious designs (including WWE star Eve Torres who plays as the film’s main hand to hand combat opponent for Chan).
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=83034[/img]I felt like crying while watching “Skiptrace”. Here I am, with a bowl of popcorn on my lap, a dog sitting at my feet and a couple of beers in the cooler and I’m watching the first American (ish) Jackie Chan movie in the last 5 or 6 years. Jackie was a LEGEND in my eyes as a star struck little kid and was heavily influential (along with Jean Claude Van Damme) into getting into martial arts as a child. I watched EVERY movie the man ever did, and even collected the horrible ones as well. I didn’t care. This was Jackie Chan. While Jackie has been off the radar for quite some time in the U.S., the aging action star has kept pretty active over in China/Hong Kong. Rumor has it that he has mainly kept doing films to keep his very loyal stunt crew in work, but who knows if that is actually true. All I can say is that sometimes it’s time to retire or shift to another genre. Chan still LOOKS physically great (and is in way better shape than anyone I know his age), but he has slowed down dramatically so the stunt and fist fights that made him so incredibly popular just look kind of embarrassing. I hold nothing against him for aging, everyone does it’s a fact of life, but trying to do what you did when you were in your 20’s, 30’s and even 40’s at 62 years of age tends not work so well. The fights look like they’re in slow motion to accommodate his reduced physicality and even when they are going at full speed it’s VERY obvious that stunt wires and sped up cameras are employed. Chan’s last “Police Story” film that came out last year was the perfect example of how to make an aging action star still tough and work well on screen, but Harlin and crew decided to try and replicate the magic of Jackie’s youth as an old man. Which very obviously failed.
Then of course there is also the fact that they used Johnny Knoxsville as a low rent version of Chris Tucker. Knoxsville can play a semi decent character when he wants to, but really he’s just the same annoying character he usually plays in ALL his movies. The pair’s chemistry is literally ZERO on screen, with forced and clichéd dialog that makes one just wince as the two try to make the audience believe they are becoming “friends”. If Renny Harlin had maybe a SHOT at pulling off this hackneyed copy of “Midnight Run” and “Rush Hour” (we have the same old cliché of a mysterious mob boss, but instead of Jun Tow it’s The Matador) if there was some better chemistry on screen, but what we’re stuck with exactly that. A hackneyed copy of “Midnight Run” and “Rush Hour”, just without all the fun of those two movies.
Rated PG-13 for action/violence, some suggestive content, language, brief nudity and drug material
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=83042[/img]If anything, the video encode for “Skiptrace” is one of the best parts of the movie. Shot using the Red Epic digital cameras, Renny Harlin’s action flick looks quite good, with sharp colors and crisp clarity throughout. Colors are a bit muted at times, but once the crew gets into Mongolia and Thailand on their road trip the colors really brighten up and show good saturation levels. Especially in the ethnic costumes and the river ride that shows off deep blacks and earth tones. Black levels are strong throughout, but DO show signs of banding that comes and goes. Facial detail and intimated detailing on clothing look exceptional, although I noticed a little bit of glossiness around Michal Wong and Jackie Chan’s faces. Making me wonder if some attempt to make them look young again was employed.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=83050[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is a bit of a mixed back, but it is mostly good than bad. The dialog has a strange tendency to be all over the place. The vocal levels are usually maintained with good evenness and the track is well balanced with the effects, but some scenes seem to be very rich and full, and others the vocals end up being flat and boxy in nature. The scenes with Chinese dialog and subtitles seem to be the flattest, while the English speaking bits feel more fleshed out than the rest. The back and forth shifting between the two extremes was baffling to say the least. However, what the track lost in dialog it made up for in aggressiveness and full blooded action force. The LFE is heavy and pounding away at the audience from the get go and doesn’t let up till the credits roll. The music is intense and full of mid bass, while the fists and feet show impressive weight in the fight scenes. Gunshots ring out with authority and the action sequences are one long bass scene. The surrounds are fully active at all times with the sounds of a steel garbage can rolling down the street (with Johnny Knoxsville screaming the whole time), to the bullets whizzing overhead, or the swish of water under a busy dock. It’s an overall good track, just one that COULD have been great if it hadn’t been marred by inconsistent dialog.
• Audio Commentary with director Renny Harlin
• When Jackie Met Johnny- Featurette
I really wasn’t expecting much from “Skiptrace” due to the very weak trailer shown a few months back, but I was honestly SERIOUSLY hoping for something better than this. With Jackie Chan, Renny Harlin and a few great Asian action stars I was hoping for something that would at least be entertaining, but what we saw was a humiliating stain on all the careers of those involved. There were a few scenes here and there that got a chuckle out of me, or got me to raise my beer glass to acknowledge a fun fight, but overall this was a very painful experience that makes me almost want to throw away my copy of the movie so as not to stain the rest of my Jackie Chan movie collection. Skip It.
Starring: Jackie Chan, Johnny Knoxsville, Bingbing Fan
Directed by: Renny Harlin
Written by: Jay Longino, BenDavid Grabinski
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 96 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: October 25th, 2016
Buy Skiptrace On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Skip It
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