Weak story in violent action flick; drinking, language.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Insight is a martial arts thriller starring Indonesian kickboxing champion Ken Zheng, who also wrote and co-directed the film. The combat-style fighting is sometimes bloody but not overly graphic. In addition to hand-to-hand fighting, a military takedown of a terrorist involves firing submachine guns and assault rifles, and a villain thrusts a knife. Other iffy content is associated with negatively portrayed characters: A cheating husband undresses and fondles his lover's breast, an abusive dad is a drunk gambler, and a security guard who works for an evil tech company smokes. Expect a few instances of foul language: "hell," "damn," and "s--t." It's secondary to the action, but Zheng does try to offer a message about the value of doing good. The lead character and his brother are both clairvoyant; the one who uses his gift for personal gain meets an untimely end, while the one who uses his gift to help others is well respected and successful.
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What's the Story?
Jian (Ken Zheng) is a clairvoyant who's using his INSIGHT to help elite military forces capture terrorists. When he receives news of his brother's apparent death by suicide, Jian travels to Los Angeles to conduct his own investigation. After his actions sideline rising detective Abby (Madeline Zima), they defy orders and team up to discover the truth.
Is It Any Good?
There hasn't been a good ESP thriller in decades ... and, alas, the wait continues. But there's a passionate audience out there with a hunger for martial arts movies, and Insight does showcase the impressive moves of Indonesian kickboxing champ Zheng. Unfortunately, his skill at creating filmed entertainment doesn't compare to his ability to roundhouse an opponent. While the clairvoyance element is fresh, the movie's storyline about an out-of-town special ops agent who travels to L.A. to investigate his brother's murder is completely derivative: It's Beverly Hills Cop meets Lethal Weapon meets Rush Hour. What helped those movies succeed was their blend of action and comedy. So, while kudos are due to Zheng for using his resources to broaden his appeal and serve martial arts lovers, here's a hint for the future: Get a comedic sidekick!
As it stands, he and his co-director/co-producer/sister Livi Zheng bring together a cast of somewhat familiar faces: Zima, John Savage, and Sean Patrick Flanery all perform as well as can be expected given Insight's poor lighting, subpar editing, and cheesy special effects. And Keith David, wow -- even wearing a police uniform that looks like it was purchased at a Halloween store, he owns every scene he's in. Insight may not wow any but the most die-hard martial arts fans, but let's not beat Zheng up the way he dispatches villains. He's 25 years old and a recent film school grad, and he shows promise in his ability to recognize and fulfill a niche. Give him a few years, and he'll be kicking butt and taking names -- at least, in a more figurative sense.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the appeal of action films that showcase martial arts combat. How does Insight compare to others you've seen?
Siblings Livi and Ken Zheng wrote, directed, produced, and star in this film. If you were to make a movie with a sibling, cousin, or friend, what do you think it would be about? How is teamwork demonstrated in the film?
How are flashbacks used to understand Jian and his brother's choices? How does understanding someone's experiences in the past help create empathy in the present?
Do the characters/roles in the film uphold or defy stereotypes? Why is representation in entertainment important?
- In theaters: March 12, 2021
- On DVD or streaming: March 12, 2021
- Cast: Ken Zheng, Madeline Zima, Sean Patrick Flanery
- Directors: Livi Zheng, Ken Zheng
- Studio: Gravitas Ventures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Brothers and Sisters
- Run time: 80 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: December 7, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
Enter the Dragon
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For kids who love action
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