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鐵道飛虎 (2016)
Railroad Tigers

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 04/11/2018
Summary: Jackie is more or less back

Uneven, episodic, too broadly written but redeemed by action scenes and train crashes toward the end and ultimately satisfying to the extent that the good guys won while making the final sacrifice and the bad guys lost with almost everyone in the cast dead at the end.

Typical wartime story of unorganized and poorly armed partisans--in this case a bunch of railroad worker--taking on and defeating an all conquering army that has occupied their country. Brave Chinese guerillas oppose well trained combat veterans of the Japanese army who have the latest weapons and equipment, a seemingly inexhaustible supply of ammunition and enough satchel charges to literally fill a boxcar. The Chinese want to blow up a bridge, a key part of the supply lines to the battlefront and the Japanese need to keep the supplies moving. Among the weapons the Japanese have are small armored rail cars that look like oddly shaped tanks on railway carriages and that patrol the tracks. They were highlights of the production design.

There was self-sacrifice, heroism, unstated but still powerful patriotism and the ability to devise tactics to suit a changing situation on the Chinese side while their opponents were sneaky, ignoble, so fearful of authority that they couldn’t act without specific orders and unable deal with the creative Chinese irregulars. The Japanese weren’t presented as particularly bloodthirsty--they weren’t cruel for the sake of cruelty, there were mass arrests instead of mass slaughter of recalcitrant civilians and the rules of war were generally followed. There were the usual evil Japaneses commanders and intelligence officers, conflicted Chinese caught between wanting to serve their country and just wanting everything to go away and the more noble than noble railroad worker who set about accomplishing what the Eighth Route Army couldn’t.

Overly long--”Railroad Tigers” could have been improved with a firmer hand in the editing booth--but it was fun to see a mature, bearded Jackie Chan in an action role even though most the action was doubled by stuntmen or created by constructive editing.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 01/06/2017
Summary: Silly good fun with Jackie and Co

RT has garnered a number of lukewarm and even poor reviews. Though I agree with a number of the points made, I consider many of them beside the point.

Though Jackie is still clearly the star, RT is much more an ensemble effort. About 20 characters are introduced with a freeze frame, subtitled with their role and job. Unfortunately, a number of these are of little consequence, and this confuses the story a little. Perhaps this is a concession to Jackie passing the age of 60 and having to take things easier. However, JC's version of slowing down would kill many action stars half his age. The old guy can still throw some impressive moves.

Jackie's trademark goofiness is all the way through RT. Though I have found it went overboard in a number of other films, I think it works well here. Perhaps 'tis the need for relief from the grimness of war, or maybe I've just given up resisting at last.

As ever, an impressive array of talent surrounds the old fellow. Ikeuchi Hiroyuki is a standout as the brutal Japanese Captain, having previously played a serious badass in Ip Man. He opens with impressive martial arts skills while training his soldiers (in judo ?), and plays a persistent and able opponent, as well as joining in the general silliness at regular intervals. It is a pity that he does not use his martial arts any further. This may get to the heart of the disappointment of some reviewers. RT is clearly delineated as Action, rather than Martial Arts. Using Ikeuchi's martials further would have brought about a climactic fight scene with Jackie. So why did he introduce them ? Hmmm.

RT is a delightful mix of brutal reality and wacky fantasy. A female kempeitai officer ?! The character Yuko is one of the pleasant surprises. Far more than a very much out-of-place pretty face, she injects quite a few thrills and laughs as the action speeds up.

True, the action is rather sparse in the first half, and perhaps the dizzying number of character introductions are there to keep things moving, but once things get going, RT becomes great fun. The climactic action sequence is breathtaking, and ranks easily with Chan's very best work.

As director, writer and editor, Ting Sheng has clearly cut a few corners, but I think this did not take much away from the finished product. RT is rattling good fun with (eventually) bucketloads of action and comedy. As ever, JC can still shame much that the US dares to call Action.

Highly recommended.

Reviewer Score: 8