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Renny Harlin
Jackie Chan, Johnny Knoxville, Fan Bingbing
Writing Credits:
Jay Longino and Bendavid Grabinski

A detective from Hong Kong teams up with an American gambler to battle against a notorious Chinese criminal.

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 98 min.
Price: $24.99
Release Date: 10/25/2016

• Audio Commentary with Director Renny Harlin
• “When Jackie Met Johnny” Featurette
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Skiptrace [Blu-Ray] (2016)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 24, 2016)

Back in 1998, Rush Hour paired Jackie Chan with Chris Tucker, and a genre was born: “Jackie Chan Struggles to Get Along With Mismatched American”. That trend continued through two more Rush Hour movies as well as the Shanghai Noon flicks with Owen Wilson.

Chan returns to this particular well with 2016’s Skiptrace. Hong Kong detective Bennie Chan (Chan) pursues an infamous crime boss named “the Matador”, a matter that becomes personal when the baddie’s forces kill Bennie’s partner Yung (Eric Tsang).

Bennie believes that “the Matador” is really businessman Victor Wong (Winston Chao), and the threat escalates more when Yung’s daughter Samantha (Fan Bingbing) winds up connected to Wong’s affairs. This leads Bennie to partner with con—man Connor Watts (Johnny Knoxville) because the American may have inside knowledge related to Wong/Matador. We follow their adventures as Bennie tries to take down Matador’s crime syndicate.

For all his flaws, at least Brett Ratner – the director behind the Rush Hour series – knew how to blend action and comedy. Sure, Ratner tended toward lowest common denominator entertainment, but he could still manage to meld genres in an occasionally effective manner.

I can’t say the same for Skiptrace director Renny Harlin. Best known for blunt force action flicks like Die Hard 2 and Cliffhanger, Harlin doesn’t make movies utterly devoid of humor, but comedy doesn’t come naturally to him.

That makes Harlin an odd choice to lead Skiptrace. While it combines laughs and action, the film firmly leans toward yuks – most at Knoxville’s expense. Chan digs into goofy comedy as well, so the pair emphasize the movie’s attempted mirth.

Key word: “attempted”. While I’m not sure that a more appropriate director would make a silk purse out of this sow’s ear, Harlin lacks the chops to pull off the movie’s needed lightness. Granted, Harlin never was a great director even when he remained in his own wheelhouse, but his stabs at wackier fare just doesn’t work.

At 62, Chan looks great for his age, but he shows his years in terms of his stunts. While Chan remains reasonably spry, he lacks the giddy acrobatics that enlivened his earlier films, and without his manic sense of theatrics, Chan fails to bring much to the table.

It doesn’t help that Chan and Knoxville lack any chemistry. Both usually feel like they’re in different movies – they occasionally show signs that they’re on the same page, but most of the time, they appear disconnected and disjointed.

I won’t pin too much blame on the actors, though, as I think most of the issues circle back to Harlin. Again, I remain unconvinced that anyone could’ve made this warmed-over Rush Hour a compelling film, but in Harlin’s hands, it seems flat and joyless. Even the easily entertained seem likely to yawn a lot during this clunker.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus C+

Skiptrace appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie came with an appealing presentation.

Overall sharpness remained good. A smattering of wider elements could seem a little soft, but those didn’t create real distractions. Instead, the movie tended to be accurate and concise. I noticed no shimmering or jaggies, and the film lacked edge haloes or source flaws.

The palette opted for a mix of orange and teal. Within stylistic choices, the hues looked fine. Blacks were deep and dense, while low-light shots depicted appropriate clarity. The image seemed to be more than satisfactory.

With plenty of action scenes, the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix often opened up to give us active information. These used the various speakers to create an involving, effective sense of these situations and circumstances. The elements meshed together well and moved in a satisfying manner.

Audio quality also pleased. Music was peppy and full, while dialogue sounded accurate and concise. Effects demonstrated good clarity and range, with fine low-end response as necessary. This wasn’t quite a demo-worthy track, but it fared well.

A couple of extras flesh out the package, and we get an audio commentary from director Renny Harlin. He presents a running, screen-specific look at the project's development, sets and locations, cast and performances, music, story/characters, action and stunts, effects, and connected domains.

Harlin has recorded many commentaries over the years, so he boasts great familiarity with the format. That doesn’t make him a great commentator, though, and his normal traits appear here.

Actually, Harlin seems more animated and invested than in the past, and he delivers a decent overview of the film. Nonetheless, the track remains fairly average – Harlin gets the job done but fails to make this an especially interesting piece.

When Jackie Met Johnny runs five minutes, three seconds and presents notes from actors Jackie Chan and Johnny Knoxville. They discuss their characters, performances and interactions. This becomes a glib promo piece.

The disc opens with ads for Mechanic: Resurrection, Last Witch Hunter, Nerve, Spy Next Door and The Last Stand. No trailer for Skiptrace appears here.

Essentially just another variation on Jackie Chan’s Rush Hour franchise, Skiptrace provides a joyless affair. It lacks excitement or humor and presents a poorly executed effort. The Blu-ray brings us very good picture and audio along with a few bonus materials. Skiptrace ends up as a forgettable attempt at a comedy adventure.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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