Jackie Chan strug­gles to stay on track with lack­lus­tre Rail­road Tigers

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Rail­road Tigers Di­rec­tor: Ding Sheng Stars: Jackie Chan, Huang Zi­tao, Wang Kai, Dar­ren Wang The re­cent ca­reer tra­jec­tory of Jackie Chan is fol­low­ing a sim­i­lar path to that of an­other age­ing icon, Sylvester Stal­lone, with whom he will re­port­edly shoot the film Ex-Baghdad in the UAE this year.

Like Stal­lone, Chan is largely liv­ing off past glories, with just f leet­ing glimpses of the ac­tion-hero per­sona that made him an in­ter­na­tional su­per­star in his prime.

None­the­less, both have man­aged their ca­reers in such a way that the less­en­ing of their phys- ical prow­ess has been com­pen­sated for through their use of com­edy, charm and feel­ings of nos­tal­gia.

Con­se­quently, it is pretty easy to cheer Chan in Rail­road Tigers, even though he mostly leaves the stunts and fight­ing to younger co­horts in this ac­tion-com­edy set dur­ing the sec­ond Sino-Ja­panese con­flict.

Rail­road Tigers wants to at­tract younger au­di­ences as well as long-time Chan fans, so the em­pha­sis is more on com­edy than ac­tion, with the fight scenes more of the Raiders of the Lost Ark va­ri­ety rather than the gritty re­al­ism of Sav­ing Pri­vate Ryan. Given its fam­i­lyen­ter­tain­ment cre­den­tials, then, it is easy to see why it is being re­leased over Eid. The love­able, bumbl ing Chi­nese-re­sis­tance heroes led by Chan must blow up a bridge be­fore a steam train car­ry­ing Ja­panese mil­i­tary sup­plies can cross it. As they try to do this, they use ev­ery­day items such as flour and fruit to fight the evil gun-tot­ing Ja­panese soldiers.

The plot bor­rows heav­ily from The Bridge on the River Kwai, which is told in the comic style of Buster Keaton’s The Gen­eral – but it is nowhere near as good as both of them.

The story is painted in broad strokes. Ev­ery char­ac­ter is in­tro­duced through a car­toon that re­veals de­tails about them. We find out their name, oc­cu­pa­tion and catch­phrase, but you have to be an amaz­ing speed-reader to catch all the de­tails – such is the break­neck pace at which they flash up on screen.

This is a movie that does not want you to think too much, lest you no­tice all its faults. It is a silly ca­per with the em­pha­sis on ac­tion chore­og­ra­phy and big set pieces – which would be fine if the chore­og­ra­phy and CGI were not so lack­lus­tre. China – like the rest of the world – still strug­gles to match Hol­ly­wood when it comes to block­buster movies.

Di­rec­tor Ding Sheng pre­vi­ously worked with Chan on Lit­tle Big Sol­dier (2010) and Po­lice Story: Lock­down (2013). Rail­road Tigers is not as good as ei­ther of those films. It has its mo­ments and is just about fun enough for kids, but is too ba­nal for adults.

will be in cinemas from to­mor­row

Cour­tesy Rex / Shut­ter­stock

Jackie Chan in di­rec­tor Ding Sheng’s ac­tion-com­edy, Rail­road Tigers.

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