Jackie Chan: The Foreigner – Exclusive Report! Glen Stanway October 17, 2017 News
In the winter of 2015/16, I was lucky enough to be selected to work as a film extra on Jackie Chan’s latest action thriller, “The Foreigner”. I was already a big fan of the original source novel, “The Chinaman”, by Stephen Leather. The story is of a humble Vietnamese man whose world is tragically torn apart by a rogue terrorist bombing. When the authorities cannot bring those responsible to justice, he takes matters into his own hands. The quiet and unassuming “Chinaman” is in fact a highly-skilled veteran of guerrilla warfare. He heads to Northern Ireland in a thrilling hunt for vengeance. When I first read the book I always pictured Jackie Chan in the lead role.
For the movie, I was cast as one of a team of Irish terrorists sent to guard the fictional politician Liam Hennessy, played by former James Bond, Pierce Brosnan. With his beard and glasses he bore an uncanny resemblance to the real Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams. It was a genuine thrill to have Mr Brosnan himself, on more than one early frosty morning, pat me on the shoulder and say, “Alright mate”!
We filmed day and night for two weeks in the icy Oxfordshire countryside, which was standing in for rural Ireland. My role mostly involved guarding a farmhouse or patrolling the farm buildings. However, during one night shoot, my fellow guards and I did feature in the aftermath of a spectacularly explosive scene with lots of pyrotechnics. It was a real privilege to witness and very exciting to be a part of the action. Whilst shooting the scenes I was very happy to see that many of the situations set in this location, and even some of the dialogue, had been lifted straight from the book.
Although most of the filming I was involved in centred around Pierce Brosnan’s character, we were very fortunate to see Jackie Chan on several days. There were several stunt performers from his own famous Jackie Chan Stunt Team with him, and he also worked closely with many respected members of the British film stunt community. We were privy on the monitors to one fight sequence in a stables but I cannot reveal anymore! One morning, as is a common sight on productions involving Jackie Chan, he came out of his trailer, grabbed a broom and started to sweep up!
The film was directed by Martin Campbell, who successfully rebooted the James Bond franchise not once, but twice, with the films “Goldeneye” and “Casino Royale”. He has of course, worked with Pierce Brosnan before and is also a Jackie Chan fan himself. As the director of this film, he was heavily invested in every aspect, working long hours and always ready to muck in with the crew.
You may have already heard that “The Foreigner” is one of Jackie Chan’s best films of recent years, especially when compared to his other English-language projects. It is the perfect role for him, now he is in his sixties, to showcase his nifty physical skills and dramatic acting talents. All the cast members that I witnessed in action gave great performances and spot on interpretations of their respective characters from the book.
And of course, for me, it was another dream come true (having previously been involved in Jackie’s 60th Birthday celebrations!) to be a part of a Jackie Chan film! I am also a James Bond fan, so to interact with Pierce Brosnan and Martin Campbell as well made the whole experience one that I will cherish forever!
Just saw it yesterday and loved it! I might be a little biased, tho Not being a native to Ireland, I thought most of the Irish accents were fine, including Pierce's. To me, he sounded a lot like Liam Neeson, who is originally from Northern Ireland. Pierce had a lot of screen time and Jackie was surprisingly good at the drama necessary for his role.
I advise you to keep yourself spoiler-free if you are planning on seeing this. There are some plot twists that you might not want to know about beforehand.
Also, it's nice to see all the positive press this movie is getting for all involved. The twitterverse is loving it.
After finishing third over its opening frame, The Foreigner drops hard to sixth this weekend, as Jackie Chan returns to US theatres in what is likely his first real stateside starring role since The Karate Kid in 2010. Teamed with Pierce Brosnan, The Foreigner earned $5.5 million this weekend, dropping 54%. It cost $45 million to make, and with a domestic total at $22.8 million, and an overseas gross at $88 million, this one is going to make some serious money, despite not exploding stateside.
The Stealthy Success Of THE FOREIGNER Jacob tells you why you should support this perfectly solid matinee movie. By JACOB KNIGHT Oct. 26, 2017
On paper, The Foreigner seems like a sure fire thing. Jackie Chan plays a grieving father, who seeks vengeance on the IRA bombers whose London terrorist attack killed his teenage daughter. In order to hunt them down, Chan's seemingly quiet, reserved Chinese restaurant owner begins harassing an Irish Ambassador to Britain (Pierce Brosnan), who has a long, public history of ties to the Irish Republican Army. When the diplomat refuses to aid the tenacious man in his quest for justice, things escalate rather quickly, as it turns out this seemingly meek immigrant was also an explosives expert during the Vietnam War, and resurrects those old skills (on top of Chan's usual acrobatic knack for inflicting bodily harm, age be damned) in order to get the politician to spill the names of the men who took his family from him.
Before we go any further, let's make it clear: this isn't an article explaining to you why The Foreigner is some overlooked 2017 classic. The more truthful description of the picture would be "a remarkably solid matinee movie". Hell, an even more apt account may be that The Foreigner is "like four matinee movies that don't entirely stitch together in any organic fashion, rolled up into one overlong Sunday special (all scored by Cliff Martinez)". But that's also what makes it special - there aren't any grand designs bubbling beneath the surface of this diverting potboiler, that's obviously been crafted with an adult audience (see: thirty or above) in mind. It's just a sturdily made piece of pulp that reminds you Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) is one of the better action craftsmen of the last twenty or so years, dropping a Chan-fronted First Blood riff right in the middle of a slightly convoluted political procedural.
It's exciting to watch Chan - now nearing sixty-four years of age - embracing the twilight era of his career. Campbell (along with a crew of makeup artists) emphasize the Hong Kong legend's increasingly tired eyes and ashen skin, as Quan Ngoc Minh is a far cry away from the chiseled, boyish martial arts masters that Chan made his name portraying during the '70s and '80s. But the action star is still committed to his trademark style of physical performance, exercising incredible control over his body to present Quan as this slumped, inconspicuous schlub, who slowly morphs into a stealthy commando, tailing Liam Hennessey (Brosnan) to his secluded compound, where the former Special Forces soldier engages in all out guerilla warfare. Primitive traps are set as Hennessey calls in the goons, and Chan is having the time of his life engaging in bursts of hand-to-hand combat, which Campbell stages as quick, brutal fisticuffs that are easy to make out.
To be honest, the strangest element of The Foreigner is Pierce Brosnan, who seems to visibly struggle with his brogue (which is funny, seeing how Brosnan, well, Irish). With Hennessey, the former 007 is portraying a variation of the same sort of Tony Blair archetype he molded in Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer. We're fairly certain from frame one the bureaucrat is hiding something, as he navigates London's halls of power, attempting to negotiate deals for political prisoners to be released due to the attacks. Hennessey knows the code words for IRA bombings, and has admitted to "doing his time" for similar crimes in the past, before reforming and serving the peace on both sides of the conflict. His wife (Orla Brady) recognizes he's a cheating bastard; his affair with a young political activist (Charlie Murphy) being held in plain sight, she yearns for the days when Liam was a strong, brash leader with a cause he truly believed in. Once Hennessey brings in his combat trained nephew (Rory Fleck-Byrne) to track and kill Quan, he's all but revealed his true colors - a bloodstained combo of red, green and white, spattered with flecks of crimson.
The Foreigner was made for $35 million, and arguably didn't need a single cent of American box office to be a hit. In China (where Chan co-produced the film with his Sparkle Roll Media), Campbell's thriller is already nearing $90 million. The American total sits just under $25 million, after the movie opened two weeks ago in the third position at the B.O. (behind Happy Death Day and Blade Runner 2049). Altogether, the worldwide gross hovers around $115 million - not too shabby for what is now the very definition of a "mid-range movie". While The Foreigner certainly doesn't compare to the types of hits Chan used to churn out on the regular (with the Rush Hour movies existing in their own financial stratosphere), this is still a rather respectable success for a star who hasn't had a live-action movie go into wide American release since 2010 (The Karate Kid).
Now, you're probably asking yourself: why is this guy writing about a film two weeks after its all but come and gone in America? Well, the answer is actually inserted into the question. The Foreigner is going to be quickly exiting US movie houses over the next two weeks - making way for holiday fare - and its a damn shame. Were this the '80s or '90s, Chan and Brosnan's pulp hybrid would be sticking around for another two months, letting the receipts trickle in from discerning adults who just want a perfectly entertaining thriller to amuse them for an afternoon. The Foreigner is also the type of picture we really don't get anymore - a sturdily constructed throwback where heroes don't wear capes, but hide in the woods and set traps for the enemies who wronged them. It's a well-acted, morally grey matinee movie that didn't cost $150 million to make. We should support these types of films before they disappear (or are solely released in Chinese theaters) altogether. It's a treat to have a potboiler made for adults playing at the multiplex, now go buy a ticket and have some fun with an action legend for a few hours.
I can't say that I've seen the films that show an aging ‘80s action film icon in more dramatic work in the ‘10s, but what little I know about them seems generally positive with Arnold and Sly leading the way in this regard (as they did lo so many years ago). The Foreigner shows us not one but (kinda) two in one place and guess what? The results are pretty good here as well.
David Marconi (Live Free or Die Hard) adapted the Stephen Leather novel "The Chinaman" into a script that Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) directed. An IRA bombing in London has killed a dozen people, including the daughter of Quan (Jackie Chan, Rush Hour). Quan is stricken with grief and wants to know the names of those involved with the bombing, and goes so far as to confront Liam Hennessey (Pierce Brosnan, The World is Not Enough), a former IRA leader who now serves as deputy First Minister for Northern Ireland. Dismissed at first, it's later learned that Quan was a former Special Forces soldier and has the skills and wherewithal to exact revenge, and damned if he doesn't try to do so.
I think that to a degree Chan's dramatic ability has been underrated over the course of his career, and given the background for his character which is established early on he conveys it very well. His support system is small as is and his daughter played an important part in it, so he comes off as a man shattered and as that subsides, seething. Chan's depth also allows his character to restrain himself until the time comes otherwise, and it proves to be a very good turn. Of course when he does need to kick ass he does, but it's also in a way that's multifaceted to the character and his backstory. The story takes great lengths to make the characters as believable as they can be and Chan puts in the work.
Complementing Chan's performance is Brosnan's, which enjoys to his character's past but also his work in balancing the desires of his homeland with diplomacy is almost as impressive in his performance. He also gets to do the stuff from his mid-‘90s James Bond ethos to a degree too, and having his GoldenEye collaborator in Campbell on board for it helps. And as Liam learns more about the truth and feels betrayed by the present, Brosnan's character oddly shares some of the same feelings as Chan's does, and they both do well with them. It's almost as if the world knows that Chan and Brosnan can do action stuff, and the action complements the story and characters. A novel idea!
With a tinge of morbidity, it's nice to see the old action stars discover this newfound and perhaps little used tool in their dramatic arsenal. They're in the September/October of their lives, and they have a grasp of being closer to the end than the beginning like Holden in Network. And they're just there apparently pumping out these understated and impressive performances. And like they did decades past, seemingly releasing a new one every year, hopefully this behavior repeats itself.
The Blu-ray Disc:
The Foreigner comes to Blu-ray in an AVC-encoded 2.40:1 widescreen presenation and it's very good. Lots of image detail in the faces/torsos of Chan and Brosnan, and in other clothing textures. Background detail is ample and multidimensional, the color palette, while being a little darker, presents good contrast in blacks and greys when it needs to, and the image is devoid of haloing or postprocessing concerns. It's a nice disc to look at.
DTS-HD 7.1 and it does work early and often over the course of the near two-hour film, starting with the explosion and moving on to gunfire and hand to hand fights with loads of low-end fidelity and balance. Quieter moments of dialogue are also well-balanced and you don't have to adjust the volume much, and the directional effects and channel panning moments in the film are abundant and effective. Overall it's a darned good sound experience.
There's a making of on the film that‘s fairly brief (2:17) and a couple of trailers, and the meat of the extras are interviews with Chan, Brosnan and Campbell (28:00). While they cover the requisite moments that EPKs tend to cover, they also include some nice thoughts about their characters and one another, that Brosnan regrets not being able to have dinner with Chan before the latter went to another project, and Chan's receipt of a painting when his scenes wrapped. It appeared to be a kind set and it's evident in these soft-spoken interviews.
I guess a lot of the praise surrounding The Foreigner is for the performances of Chan and Brosnan, and for good reason since they're very good. A lesser talked about surprise of the film is how well-rounded it is; it very well could have relied on the acrobatics of Chan or the guile or good looks of Brosnan and been "just another film" in both their libraries. But it wants to tell a story and the actors respect it and contribute what they can to it without relying on their established talents. For fans of either it's a good change of pace but it's a decent enough movie on its own that everyone should take a peek or two.
Behind The Stunts @stuntcentral Some of the stunt crew from @piercebrosnan and @eyeofjackiechan movie @foreignermovie Greg Powell, Phil Lonergan, Adam Horton, Mark Archer and Tony Van Silva #piercebrosnan #stunts