A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Skiptrace is a 2016 martial-arts action/comedy movie starring Jackie Chan and Johnny Knoxville. Unsurprisingly, there is frequent martial-arts violence, including what feels like more kicks to male crotches than the average episode of America's Funniest Home Videos. There's some iffy humor throughout, including jokes about a Russian female fighter's bra size, two men waking up spooning ala Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, a man holding on to an another man's penis to avoid falling hundreds of feet to his death, and, during the blooper reel playing during the credits, horse defecation. While Americans and Russians are stereotyped, there is some effort to convey both Chinese and Mongolian culture. Occasional profanity including "s--t." Some drinking, including a scene in which characters have way too much to drink. One of the main characters witnesses a shipment of cocaine being boxed up for shipping.
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What's the story?
In SKIPTRACE, Bennie Chan (Jackie Chan) is a Hong Kong detective who has spent the last several years trying to find out the identity behind a criminal mastermind named "The Matador," the person he believes is responsible for the death of his former partner. As Chan's partner's daughter Samantha gets in trouble with billionaire Victor Wong's crime syndicate, Chan searches for an American gambler, con artist, and pickpocket named Connor Watts (Johnny Knoxville), who, while in a casino elevator, witnessed the murder of Esther Yee, who gave Watts the phone that should prove the identity of "The Matador." But before Chan can get to Watts, Watts is kidnapped by Russian mobsters and taken to Siberia, where he's nearly crushed by a bowling ball until it's revealed that he might be the father of the kingpin's daughter's baby. Chan rescues Watts, and must find a way to get him back to Hong Kong, which leads the pair on a wild journey through Russia, Mongolia, and China -- with Watts trying to escape at nearly every turn, until they get back to Hong Kong and learn the shocking truth as to the true identity of "The Matador."
Is it any good?
While extremely bombastic and bursting with cultural cliches (the cocky American, the humorless Russian), the martial arts sequences keep this movie entertaining. Jackie Chan still manages to live up to expectations and delivers elaborate fight sequences featuring elaborate "Rube Goldberg" devices, slapstick humor, and one man taking on dozens and emerging victorious. While not the greatest actor, Johnny Knoxville is believable as an obnoxious American abroad.
On the other hand, there's also plenty of groan-worthy moments. Corny jokes about the bra size of a vicious and voluptuous Russian fighter. More kicks to male groins than the average episode of America's Funniest Home Videos. And when a coterie of Mongolian folk musicians transition from playing their traditional music to a Mongolian folk version of the Adele song "Rolling in the Deep" (with Chan delivering comically bad lead vocals), one can't help but wonder if this was a choice made to show how music brings the global village together, or if most movie audiences can't deal with unfamiliar music. Either way, the enjoyment of Skiptrace is ultimately dependent on whether or not you want a story to get in the way of the exciting martial arts sequences.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about martial-arts movies like Skiptrace. Does all the fighting enhance the story? Why or why not?
How is this movie similar to and different from other "buddy movies?"
How does this movie show different cultures? Did it seem like accurate portrayals, stereotyping, or a bit of both?
- In theaters: September 2, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: October 25, 2016
- Cast: Jackie Chan, Johnny Knoxville, Eve Torres
- Director: Renny Harlin
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Adventures
- Run time: 98 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: Action/violence, some suggestive content, language, brief nudity and drug material.
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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