Vanguard Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Pros: Jackie Chan, who became a bait for viewers; action Cons: hackneyed plot; terrible editing; elements of Chinese propaganda “Vanguard” / Vanguard

Genre Action
Directed by Stanley Tong
Starring Jackie Chan (Tang), Yang Yang (Lei), Ai Lun (Chan), Miya Muqi (Miya), Zhu Zhengting (Shendiao), Said Badria (Abati), etc.
Студии China Film (Shanghai) International Media Co., China Film Group Corporation (CFGC), Lix Entertainment
Year of release 2020
IMDb website

According to the plot of the film, “Vanguard” is the name of a private security service that provides protection to VIP clients around the world. The organization’s headquarters, located in the heart of London, receives a message about the kidnapping of a wealthy Chinese businessman. In order for the hostage to give out the necessary information, the hired gunmen plan to reach his daughter, who is in Africa, completely unaware of the situation with her father. At this time, Vanguard comes into play, carrying out a rescue mission led by Jackie Chan’s hero.

If the premise of the film seems rather hackneyed, do not rush to conclusions, everything will be even worse ahead. In some places the film teeters on the edge of “so bad it’s good.” In the end, what you see will be incredibly funny, but laughter is caused by scenes where the creators did not foresee any humor.

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It’s worth starting with the fact that the film “Vanguard” is the sixth joint project between Jackie Chan and Chinese director Stanley Tong. In the 90s, they worked on an action film about a Hong Kong police officer (called Police Story III: Super Cop), which received several awards at Asian film festivals. In collaboration, Chan and Tong staged combat stunts, combining them with comic episodes, which ultimately turned into quite successful, although sometimes monotonous, action films.

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Thanks to the joint efforts of the actor and director, the action film Rumble in the Bronx appeared, which hit the American box office, providing the first massive wave of Jackie Chan’s popularity in the United States. It is noteworthy that the picture was edited for American viewers, cutting out several scenes from the Hong Kong version that were inappropriate due to differences in culture.

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As for the film “Vanguard”, released twenty years after “Rumble in the Bronx”, there are no adaptations in it. On the contrary, the action film contains elements of Chinese propaganda (just look at the superhero Captain China that the characters talk about) and a completely wild representation of representatives of other nations (in other words, most of the foreign heroes were endowed with impenetrable stupidity). With all this, the creators of the action film tried very hard to make a beautiful and modern picture, invited young actors and gave a supporting role to the Chinese pop idol Zhu Zhengting. But the most ridiculous plot with ill-thought-out details can destroy any gloss, and the situation cannot be saved either by new faces or even by the performance of Jackie Chan.

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By the way, about Jackie Chan – his role in the film cannot be called the main one. The actor’s character manages rescue operations, personally participating in fights, but in fact he is only a minor character with a noble mission. There is no central character in “Vanguard” at all; a collective story is presented here, stuffed with awkward episodes. And this would be tolerable if the action movie were not decorated with CGI animals (one case when it is better to show a real lion from afar, rather than insistently demonstrate on camera the friendship between a person and the result of unconvincing computer graphics), awkward romance and unbearably sublime dialogue. And this is not the worst thing in the film. An indelible impression is left by the editing of “Vanguard,” where almost every change of events is indicated by a fading screen, which over time begins to resemble a PowerPoint presentation.

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Against the backdrop of such awkward details of “Vanguard”, the staging of the film’s action scenes seems like nothing at all. Who will be surprised by the violation of the laws of physics and the noticeable acceleration of cars, the main thing is that the heroes can fight and chase in any conditions.

Taking advantage of the moment, director Stanley Tong inserts stunts with the participation of Jackie Chan into the general scenes, in which the actor demonstrates his signature comic timing. Unfortunately, their long-standing concept doesn’t work in this film. But for fans of Jackie there is still a bonus – traditional credits with footage of how the filming of staged fights took place. There is also a mention of the jet ski incident, as a result of which Jackie Chan almost lost his life.

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Before the credits roll, viewers are treated to a grand finale in the spirit of the big Chinese New Year celebration. It was supposed to provide a festive atmosphere during the winter season, but the film’s release was postponed due to the spread of coronavirus. Now the New Year tie-in is perceived as another comical detail against the backdrop of a failed action movie.

Conclusion:

there are dozens of better contemporary Chinese paintings. “Vanguard” is so bad that over time it begins to sincerely amuse with its plot – this practically reaches the advantages of the film.

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