Railroad Tigers (2016)
Reviewed by: STSH on 2017-01-06
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