Director: Larry Yang
Cast: Jackie Chan, Liu Haocun, Guo Qilin, Joey Yung, Andy On, Yu Rongguang, Xiaoshenyang, Wu Jing
Runtime: 2 hr 6 mins
Rating: PG (Some Violence)
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Opening Day: 13 April 2023
Synopsis: Directed by Larry Yang and starring international superstar Jackie Chan alongside new talents Liu Haocun and Kevin Guo, Ride On tells the story of washed-up stuntman Luo (Jackie Chan). When Luo’s trusty horse Red Hare becomes the focus of a debt dispute, Luo repairs his relationship with estranged daughter Bao (Liu Haocun). Moreover, with the help of Bao’s boyfriend Mickey (Kevin Guo), the team of “three people and one horse” set out to protect their family and loved ones. The brilliant action choreography in the film is a homage to Jackie Chan’s classic stunts from his previous movies. Ride On proves to be the best Chinese-language family movie of 2023.
The Chin Ka-Lok produced documentary Kung Fu Stuntmen which feature interviews with action stars liked Sammo Hung, action directors liked Yuen Woo Ping and Stephen Tung is a loving tribute to the legacy of HK stunt work. But one name is notoriously missing- Jackie Chan, the international action star who is renowned for his death-defying onscreen stunts.
Perhaps the mystery is now sort of solved as Chan has his own tribute piece in the form of Ride On, written and directed by young filmmaker Larry Yang.
Chan plays Master Luo, a washed-up stuntman who now earns a minimum wage roaming around Hengdian Studio with his trusty horse dubbed Red Hare. Red Hare is a gift from Luo’s friend (Ray Lui in a fleeting cameo) and after the collapsed of his friend’s firm, the horse is involved in a company financial dispute in which Red Hare is supposedly to be on the auction list.
Desperate to keep Red Hare by his side, Luo has no choice but to seek the help of his estranged daughter, Bao (Liu Haochun), a law student and his novice lawyer-boyfriend, Mickey (Kevin Guo) for legal assistance. At the same time against the wishes of Bao, Luo is making a small comeback with Red Hare as fellow “stuntmen” in the film industry. Will Luo and Red Hare separate in the end or a long-delayed family reunion with Bao awaits them?
Ride On is a movie with many themes. It’s the first time Chan is working with an animal sidekick. It’s also a family drama that has his character trying hard to connect with a daughter that he never spend any time with when she was younger. Of course, the bigger picture is about the hard work of every stuntmen behind countless action movies. Lump all these factors together and you have Chan’s latest work.
Embarrassingly, the tribute portion is more of a Jackie Chan tribute than anything else as we are shown reels of Chan performing his stuntwork from his Golden Harvest heyday. Luo frequent mentions of “stuntmen never say no” comes much earlier on Kung Fu Stuntmen. In the context of the latter, it comes far more stirring and convincing. In the case of Ride On, the fictional portrayal of Luo hardly represents the overall effort of the stunt industry or Jackie Chan’s stunt man team on the whole and this is despite the actor’s constant drilling message of relying on real action and stunts.
At 69, Chan has officially surpassed the official Singapore’s retirement age and the man still insists on working on Ride On despite a knee injury. And that is dedication and commitment for the youngsters out there. For an action star in his twilight years, obvious stand-in, close-ups and quick cuts is a must for the handful of action sequences which mainly feature Andy On (remember his duel with Jackie in New Police Story?) and his henchmen as debt-collectors running after Luo. Playful and meant for some light chuckles, the action choreography by He Jun is hardly creative or engaging. Just remember our man here is already 69!
The bulk of Ride On relies on the father-and-daughter relationship and some silly antics by Red Hare. Liu Haochun (from Zhang Yimou’s One Second) and cross-talk comedian Kevin Guo is at least serviceable in their respective roles although most audiences are likely here for Chan. While the old man from Ernest Hemingway’s classic The Old Man and the Sea finally learns more about life after the death of the marlin, Luo has to learn about modernisation and adaptations through his interaction with a horse and his daughter.
Like we mentioned earlier, Ride On is more of a Jackie Chan tribute with props and scenes that referenced his past hits such as Police Story 4, Operation Condor and The Myth. Diehard Chan fans will likely spot them out though. The comedy also features cameos from Wu Jing, Xing Yu and Yu Rongguang as a businessman who loves to collect horses and his frequent collaborator Stanley Tong. Popstar Joey Yung stars as one of Luo’s protégés who hurt herself in a stunt went wrong, a subplot that deserved far more attention than anything else.
As much as we love Chan’s past works, it’s sad to see an aging Jackie trying hard to impress a much younger crowd of audiences who never have the chance to enjoy the daredevil antics and action of his olden days on the big screen. Perhaps it’s about time Chan hang up his boots or perhaps he should just stick to serious flicks liked The Foreigner.
(Ride On or shall we say, The Old Man and the Horse is a decent family comedy featuring a 69 year old Jackie Chan)
Review by Linus Tee