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."