A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Vanguard is a Chinese martial arts/action movie starring Jackie Chan (though he doesn't seem to have much to do). Both dubbed and subtitled versions are available; U.S. theaters may play one or the other depending on their preference. Expect quite a lot of comic book-style violence, with guns and shooting, secondary characters killed, bloody wounds, martial arts fighting, a woman being kidnapped, slicing, stabbing, punching, chases, explosions, and much more. As typical in Chan's films, the end credits include outtakes and bloopers with stunts going wrong and people getting hurt. A woman pretends to be a model, and there's slo-mo footage of her posing in a bathing suit. Language includes a few uses of "s--t," "bulls--t," and "hell." Cigar smoking is shown briefly. Despite some fun chase scenes, the movie suffers from a nonsensical plot, dull villains, and poor visual FX.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In VANGUARD, Tang Huanting (Jackie Chan) runs a highly trained high-tech security company called Vanguard. The company is hired to protect businessman Qin Guoli (Jackson Lou), who's become the target of a terrorist group. Vanguard operatives Lei Zhenyu (Yang Yang) and Zhang Haixuan (Ai Lun) save Qin from an attack in London, but they soon realize that the group will be after Qin's daughter, Fareeda (Xu Ruohan), an animal activist in Africa. During the mission, she and Lei are captured. And so Vanguard must attempt a risky rescue attempt before the terrorists get their hands on a powerful weapon and wreak their vengeance.
Is it any good?
Chan's globe-trotting action movie features a few brief, impressive car chases and other light moments, but it's largely weighed down by poor writing, bland villains, and a nonsensical plot. Vanguard is one of several collaborations between superstar Chan and director Stanley Tong (Supercop, Rumble in the Bronx, etc.), over three decades. You can easily get the feeling that, at this point, they're just coasting. Even with his many years behind the camera, Tong has never quite perfected his skills as a storyteller (his one foray into Hollywood gave us Mr. Magoo), but he's still technically proficient at stunts and slapstick.
Vanguard has several car chases that are undeniably cool, especially when vehicles go flying off the sides of steep hills, or a fleet of cars made of gold goes tearing through the city. Other action scenes are duller, consisting less of Chan's style of fluid, dazzling martial arts and more of guns and explosions. These scenes eventually grow tiresome, given that they're in service of a plot and characters that we just don't care about. The villains are paper-thin, scowling and sneering their terrible dialogue, and it's easy to glaze over. The visual effects are quite poor, too. Chan is easily the best thing here, and his best moment comes when Miya Muqi lands on the back of a bad guy's car and proceeds to wrest control. Chan calmly remarks, "She's on my team."
Talk to your kids about ...
Does the "honey trap" sequence exploit its female character? Does she have power over the situation? Is she objectified?
Is Chan a role model? What is his real-life image like, compared to his on-screen image?
How does this movie represent the cultures of its characters? Why is diverse representation important in the media?
- In theaters: November 20, 2020
- On DVD or streaming: March 9, 2021
- Cast: Jackie Chan, Yang Yang, Ai Lun
- Director: Stanley Tong
- Studio: Gravitas Ventures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts
- Run time: 108 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of strong violence including prolonged gun battles, and some language
- Last updated: July 22, 2021
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