Friday, April 7, 2023

Ride On (2023)

RIDE ON is a first for Jackie Chan, a film that is so disappointing that you really don’t ever want to see any of it ever again.  Say what you will about Jackie’s out put of films, no matter if you liked a film or not, there was always something in them that made you want to see at least part of them again. With RIDE ON that really isn’t the case. I wouldn’t feel heart broken if I never revisited it.

In the film Jackie plays an employed stuntman who lives with his horse. He is struggling to get by. He can’t make rent, the local gangsters want the money they loaned him and his daughter is trying to reconnect. When a fight with some of the gangsters goes viral he has a shot at redemption with a second chance at the movies. 


Where do I begin?

The first problem is that this film is like five or six films all mashed together. Every plot thread should have been its own film. There are so many characters in this film it feels like we are in the middle of New York’s Penn Station at Rush Hour and we are trying to make a film of everyone that is getting off every train. It’s insane.  Complicating things is the tone of the film changes from moment to moment. Nominally a light comedy the film is frequently maudlin. Jackie looks like a broken man and seems to be playing this as Death of Salesman.  What was this supposed to be originally because I don’t think that’s it now.

Shot as an epic, the film is a true widescreen film where everything is big and bold. This helps the action sequences which have room to be huge set pieces, but the characters get lost in the smaller moments as the characters get vanish among the sets.

Probably the most heartbreaking thing is the action set pieces are just okay. I would like to say it’s just Jackie showing his age, he tuned 69 on the day the film was released, but there have been several recent films that worked with Jackie and hid any slowing down through editing and camera work. Here the set pieces feel slowed down. At times the sequences feel like they filmed the dress rehearsal instead of the actual performance. Set pieces such as Jackie playing a Green Hornet type character are brilliant in conception but poor in execution. It feels like everyone is moving two steps slower than they should be.

I kept thinking what would this have looked like ten years ago? Two years ago? With a different creative team?

The worst part of all of this is the film doesn’t feel like there was any love involved in the making. It feels like a contractual obligation. It’s a feeling hammered home by the outtakes that run during the credits and there isn’t the joy the sequences had in other Jackie Chan films. There is no sense of fun in them.

I was disappointed from start to finish.

While not bad, it’s just nothing worth the effort.

Skip it

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