Ride On Poster

Ride On (2023) Review

Jackie Chan’s latest film, Ride On (龙马精神, Longma Jingshen), is a long way from what most of us have come to expect from its star. Rather than an all-out action film mixing lots of fight scenes and physical comedy, this has been dubbed an“action dramedy” by its makers. Those makers include writer/director Larry Yang, known for dramas such as Adoring and Sorry I Love You. This is another way of saying it’s a serious film about family and the choices we make in life, with some fight scenes and the occasional joke about getting a faceful of horse farts.

Lao Luo (Jackie Chan, Rush Hour, Police Story) is a stuntman who has seen better days. He scrapes by these days working as an extra or posing for pictures with his stunt horse Red Hare. In an eventful few hours, he finds himself fighting a gang of debt collectors led by Dami (Andy On, Abduction, Undercover vs. Undercover) who try to take Red Hare as payment for what he owes. The next morning, a pair of lawyers from a large corporation serve him with paperwork claiming ownership of the horse.

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With no way to afford a lawyer, he turns to his estranged daughter Bao (Liu Haocun, Cliff Walkers, One Second) who’s in law school. When he was famous, he didn’t have time for his family, and initially she’s happy to return the favour. However, she relents and gets her boyfriend Mickey (Kevin Guo, The Faces of My Gene, My Heroic Husband) to take his case.

As this is unfolding, video of Luo’s fight with Dami and his gang goes viral, bringing him renewed attention and job offers as well as the wrath of the gang who want revenge for this public humiliation. It also means he has a familiar set of choices between fame and family facing him.

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Coming in at just over two hours, Ride On is an uneasy mix of cloyingly sentimental family drama and action comedy. Not that there’s very much action, after the opening fight it’s a long wait for anything else exciting to happen, some stunt work on a film helmed by Luo’s former student David (Xing Yu, Dinosaur World, Kung Fu Hustle).

Instead, we get a tense father/daughter meeting and a lot of Bao’s flashbacks to her childhood, culminating with her losing it on her father when he arrives late for her mother’s funeral. There’s also the expected humour in the meeting between Chan’s brawling stuntman and his daughter’s less macho fiancé. “How can you protect her if you can’t fight?” That leads to training scenes that will remind fans of Chan’s earlier films. Those fans will also recognize recreations of scenes from several of his films, such as Police Story 2.

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The film’s pace does pick up in the second hour as Luo starts getting more stunt work and the collectors reappear. These scenes are well staged and Chan is still quite athletic despite his age, although one scene uses his age for comedic effect. Both Ride On’s fight choreographer Guanhua Han (Police Story: Lockdown, The Karate Kid) and stunt coordinator Jun He (Dragon Blade, The Day After Tomorrow) do excellent jobs and deliver the kind of scenes we expect from the film’s star.

The question will be how well will his Ride On’s slow first hour and its saccharine and wholly unbelievable ending. Granted, I’m not a big fan of dramas, so these segments may go over better with other viewers, but I was impatient for the film to let Chan and On do what we watch their films to see. As for the ending, I’m just going to pretend I never saw it. Between those two points, however, Ride On has plenty of scenes that will please fans of Jackie Chan and action films in general.

Well Go USA will release Ride On in US theatres on April 7th, which is also Chan’s 69th birthday. And if you want to keep riding after it’s over, FilmTagger can suggest a few titles to help you keep going.

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