Year Released: 2017
Directed by: Martin Campbell
Starring: Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan
(R, 114 min.)
Genre: Suspense, Drama, Action and Adventure
“Politicians and terrorists, they are just 2 ends of the same snake.” Quan Ngoc Minh
Vintage Jackie Chan. But this is not the light and bubbly champagne of his younger days. It is an aged drink – dark and still and deep.
And somewhat silent as well. Yes, the athleticism is still there, the 6o something Chan outmaneuvers an ever diminishing team of professionals trying to slow him down. But what impress us most are his eyes. They tell the story of loss and loneliness, of a man deprived of his loving family one tragedy at a time.
The film opens with the final one. His last daughter is killed in a random terrorist attack in London. Right before his eyes as he parks the car on a crowded street.
This is necessarily a dark tale, then. It is not about preventing a catastrophe, as the earlier light Chan films are, but about avenging one.
It's the most dramatic role Chan has ever tackled, and he plays it with coiled intensity and raw emotional power. –Peter Travers
We see a range here only hinted at in 2010’s Karate Kid .
First there is grief, deep and mute, Quan’s hollowed face and vacant eyes portraying it all without words. Then stoic patience as he checks with the authorities for any leads on the perpetrators. Finally, Quan settles on one, the glib Irish Deputy Minister, once a member of the IRA, now a self-professed proponent of peace.
Perhaps he smells the rot behind the bland Irish brogue of dodges and denials Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan) dishes out so effortlessly. But the little “Chinaman,” the condescending phrase a catch all for all Asians, has more than one surprise up his sleeve. Quan’s really Vietnamese, and ex special forces at that.
What he lacks in youthful vigor, Quan makes up for in sheer will and experience, following a welcome stream of older actors demonstrating considerably more integrity and courage than the latest crop of pretty boys littering up our screens recently.
He is Michael Caine’s reluctant vigilante in Harry Brown, trying to catch the bad guys as well as his ragged breath.
Jackie Chan’s Quan also echoes Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino, in his tribute to a past vision of manhood, certainly flawed by our politically correct standards, but beneath its gritty skin possessing a rare courage that makes its passing somehow profoundly sad.
Not to mention the nod to Liam Neeson’s Taken, a churning gut level embodiment of the rage we quell in our over-analyzed civilization, where we are lectured into numb inaction in the face of gaping evil and calculated malevolence.
Pierce Brosnan as Hennessy, the compromised official, seems more than comfortable to use his license to kill for less respected institutions than Her Majesty’s Secret Service. But he is no cardboard villain, just a flawed and corruptible man driven by ambition, his careful dose of bottled evil exploding in his face. (It is good to see him untethered from his Bond roots, even trying his hand at romantic comedy in 2013’s Love is All You Need, where Brosnan plays an English widower with icy reserve tempered by ragged remnants of wit, manners, and soul.)
The Foreigner is directed by Martin Campbell, who also did 2006’s Casino Royale. It resonates with the same fast pace, complex yet credible plot, and ruthless violence. While the sex scenes – no, thank God, they do not involve Jackie Chan – are not gratuitous, this is certainly not family fare, so be forewarned.
A reason to go back to the cinema for a fast ride with two favorites shedding their old skin and surprising us as they do it.
He may be an Irish deputy minister, but Liam Hennessy’s wife still cooks his breakfast – for his assistants as well. But she does not serve things up with a smile. Maybe she knows some of Liam’s dirty little secrets.
If she served up this authentic Irish dish instead of plain scrambled eggs, there would be smiles all round, at least from her guests.
The key here is the real corned beef at its core. Just the thing to wake up your taste buds as we get into the fall.
Irish Corned Beef Hash
"I purposely cook a whole corned beef just to make hash. There's nothing like the taste of fresh versus canned hash. This is also good for leftover St. Paddy's Day corned beef. I throw the carrot in for color, claiming it's the Leprechaun's gold. Serve with fried eggs and brown soda bread (farls)." –Debra Steward
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
5 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 large carrot, coarsely shredded
2 pounds cooked corned beef, cubed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
salt to taste (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
Melt butter with the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and cook the onion just until it begins to brown, about 8 minutes; stir in the potatoes and carrot, and cook until tender, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cubed corned beef, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper. Let the mixture cook until hash is crisp and browned, stirring often, 10 to 15 more minutes.