Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Double Trouble: Jaycee Chan Takes Over the Family Business

Some were skeptical when fifty-eight year old Jackie Chan announced his retirement from the action movie genre at Cannes.  Whether this is one of those Depardieu retirements or he actually really means it, only time will tell.  Regardless, the scheduling is fortuitous for the release of an old-fashioned action-comedy starring Chan’s son.  Jaycee Chan steps into some big shoes as half of a pair of mismatched security guards trying to foil an art heist in David Hsun-wei Chang’s Double Trouble (trailer here), which opens this Friday in New York.

Jay is a take-charge loose cannon, which earns him plenty of demerits for poor team-building skills.  However, his reckless disregard for procedure is rooted in a tragic episode from an earlier period of his life.  He is the one Taipei Palace museum guard an elite gang of art thieves would not want to tangle with, but he is the perfect candidate for a frame-up.  Frankly, that was not part of the plan for two slinky Cat Woman-attired robbers, but the result of the bumbling interference of Ocean, the comic relief security guard-tourist visiting from Beijing.  Dragging along Ocean is a lot like taking the proverbial accordion into battle, but Jay is forced to, for the sake of clearing his name.

As the earnest Jay, Jaycee Chan exhibits something of the rubber face and rubber bones that made his father an international movie-star.  He also has a similarly likable on-screen demeanor.  Unfortunately, Double Trouble is a bit too much like late Hollywood period Jackie Chan than his early cult favorites for fans to pronounce the baton has been fully passed.  However, it is safe to say HK model Jessica C. (a.k.a. Jessica Cambensy) has arrived as an action femme fatale.  After all, there is a reason she is on the poster with Chan, even though they are bitter foes in the film.  As for his reluctant crime-fighting partner, a little of Xia Yu’s Ocean goes a long way.

Indeed, the bickering bromance is laid on rather thick and the humor is almost entirely of the slapstick variety.  Nonetheless, the depiction of border-crossing friendship (and maybe even romance with another member of Ocean’s tour group, appealingly played by Deng Jiajia) is rather pleasant, because it never feels overly soapboxey or clumsily forced.

There are some nice stunts in Double and it also has Jessica C. going for it.  It sincerely aims to please, but it is hardly has the grit or heft of a Police Story or even the relatively recent Shinjuku Incident.  A harmless distraction, Double Trouble may indeed be remembered as a stepping stone for its promising young cast.  It opens this Friday (6/8) in New York at the AMC Empire and Village 7, as well as in San Francisco at the AMC Cupertino and Metreon, courtesy of China Lion Entertainment.