The Curator of Schlock #221 by Jeff Shuster
The 90s Aren’t Coming Back
To say that much of my film going experience in the 90s revolved around the action titans of Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan would be understatement. I grew jaded over the slow decline of Stallone and Schwarzenegger movies, but the 90s had their charm. Brownian became 007 in 1995’s Goldeneye from director Martin Campbell.
That movie revitalized the spy genre in cinema and television, two of my favorites being Austin Powers and La Femme Nikita. The Nintendo game based on Goldeneye became a legend. Brosnan was and is my James Bond.
And then there’s Jackie Chan.
Hong Kong cinema was still a bit of a mystery to me back in the mid 90s, but friends kept telling me about a movie called Rumble in the Bronx and its Chinese star who did his own stunts and had the scars to prove it. Seeing movies wasn’t as easy back then. A movie like Rumble in the Bronx would only be in a theater for about a week before being pulled and DVD hadn’t quite emerged on the market yet. So you would make an effort to see this happy-go-lucky action star from Hong Kong who performed literal death-defying gymnastics right before your eyes. Supercop and Mr. Nice Guy remain two of my most memorable theater going experiences.
The late 90s were pretty good. We’d left the recession for the dot-com boom and even I thought we were headed to a better tomorrow. Of course, that all came crashing down. Years later, Daniel Craig replaced Pierce Brosnan and Jackie Chan became less prolific. 2017’s The Foreigner from director Martin Campbell reintroduces us to these action stars of old, but if you were expecting an Expendables-esque reunion, be forewarned. This movie will punch you in the gut.
Jackie Chan looks tired.
Pierce Brosnan looks tired.
I don’t think Jackie Chan cracks a smile throughout the whole movie, something I found very disconcerting considering he always struck me as the friendliest action star ever. Pierce Brosnan cracks fake smiles throughout The Foreigner, playing Liam Hennessy, the First Minister of Northern Ireland, a former IRA member turned politician after the Good Friday Agreement. Trouble starts when a group calling themselves the Authentic IRA, blow up a clothing store in London, resulting in the deaths of many civilians. One of these victims is the daughter of Ngoc Minh Quan (Jackie Chan), a local restaurant owner.
Quan wants revenge against the terrorists who killed his daughter. He suspects Hennessy of being involved and his suspicions prove valid, but even Hennessy hadn’t planned on civilian casualties when he reached out to former IRA members to stir things up so he could reap a political advantage in the upcoming election. The terrorists are stopped, but no one gets out of this movie unscathed.
There are no happy endings left for Pierce Brosnan and Jackie Chan. The 90s are over, and they’re never coming back.
Am I recommending The Foreigner? Absolutely. It’s a good action/thriller in an age where everything is tailored to PG-13. Brosnan and Chan give off tortured performances, but it’s well worth seeing. Chan can still do the stunts, if not as agile as he once was and it’s interesting to see Brosnan portray a character doing his best to charm his way out of the mess he’s made for himself and failing miserably at it. It’s not a feel good movie, but one can’t feel good all of the time anyway.