If there’s anything I learned from Stanley Tong’s silly-as-hell action extravaganza Vanguard, it’s that every country should have its own Captain America. I would personally love to see a brawl between Captain Lichtenstein and, say, Captain Peru. In Tong’s film, Captain China – “mightier than Captain America” (!) – happens to be the hero everyone looks up to. Correction, him and Jackie Chan (who frankly looks like he’s ready to retire).
Hopping from one colorful location to another with reckless abandon – and little sense of continuity, character development, or coherent plot – Vanguard is pure switch-your-brain-off, C-movie-with-a-B (verging-on-A)-movie-budget fun. There are worse ways to pass 90 minutes for those willing to disregard the film’s numerous, glaring flaws. Call it a Chinese Mission Impossible, minus Ethan Hunt’s budget and brains.
“…an international private security company…dispatched to protect a valuable asset involved in the production of weapons of mass destruction…”
What is the titular Vanguard, you might ask? I’ll let one of the film’s villains take this one: “Vanguard is an international private security company serving to protect. Most of them are retired military or security experts.” He keeps on explaining until another bad guy screams “enough!” – a sentiment that is clearly not familiar to Stanley Tong and his team of stuntmen; excess is key to their success.
Headed by CEO Tang Huating (Jackie Chan), the Vanguard task force is dispatched to protect a valuable asset involved in the production of weapons of mass destruction or something (trust me, the plot is completely irrelevant). This asset has a beautiful daughter, who happens to be in Africa, risking her life filming poachers and cuddling with pixelated lions. And so we hop from the UK to Africa to the Middle East, as shoot-out after shoot-out threatens to crack the screen (and your eardrums).
"…Stoopid with a capital S."