Starring Jackie Chan, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Huang Zitao, Sang Ping, Jaycee Chan, Kai Wang
Fight Choreography by He Jun
Directed by Ding Sheng
Railroad Tigers is one of the newest offerings from Jackie Chan, he the classic king of martial arts and stunts. Now over the age of 60, Jackie continues to make his action films, though the quality of them are beginning to vary in a troubling way. Nevertheless, any Jackie Chan is still better than most. So how does Railroad Tigers fare?
In the film Jackie plays, Ma Yuan, a Chinese railroad worker whom, along with his fellow workers, also moonlights as freedom fighters as they work to free their town that has been taken over by the Japanese. Up till now, his group has robbed a few trains, but done nothing of real note to affect the war effort. This all changes when a Chinese soldier trying to escape the Japanese after he is separated from his garrison after a failed assault and recruits Yuan and his small team to do the impossible: blow up the nearby bridge, cutting off supplies to the Japanese soldiers on the front lines. Can Yuan and his group pull it off and survive?
This is a Jackie Chan movie, so do you REALLY expect him to fail? The real question is how will they pull it off?
This is a slick movie. By that I mean it’s well made, and looks terrific. Ding Sheng does a good job with the shots, and every action beat looks and is edited in a coherent way. Jackie looks great onscreen, even as his age advances, as do his co-stars, particularly Kai Wang as Fan Chuang, a bar keep who quit being a soldier but tries to help the freedom fighters discreetly as a sharpshooter, and Jaycee Chan as Rui Ge, who, actually has some of the best moments of the film with his father Jackie, starting first with their fighting while having ropes attached to each other scene, which is a highlight, and their capture, which initiates some light ribbing and winking at the camera in regards to their similar looks. Jackie still has his physical comedic talents still in check, and does a great job here as a robin hood of sorts, being serious but at the same time beating the Japanese with a delightful air about him that really does remind me of his old films.
But there is one film in particular this film wants to emulate, and in this regard misses its mark.
This film desperately wants to be Millionaires’ Express. As the story goes JC was originally supposed to be in the film but due to scheduling conflicts couldn’t do so.This film shares a lot of atmosphere and even some comedy with that film, but where this film doesn’t meet expectations is with the fight scenes, which were subpar for what I expect from Jackie Chan, yes, even at his advanced age. You may remember Hiroyuki Ikeuchi as the main villain in the first Ip Man film, and here is a wasted opportunity for JC to match up against him. Most of this is due to the story, as JC’s Ma Yuan is an average guy, and not a marital artist. Those waiting for a great martial arts fight scene are going to be disappointed, even more so when you see the cameo that occurs at the end of the film, which will have scenes from Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars and many other classic 80’s martial arts films dancing through your heads.
Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 7
While not a martial arts film, this is a solid entry in Jackie’s filmography. A fun war movie with grand heroics and Jackie Chan being every bit the action superhero he is!