Watch any of the flicks that made Jackie Chan a legend and you notice that so important of his graceful, goofball seductiveness comes from simply having one further move up his sleeve. Whether changing position while sliding down a plate- glass hutment or falling off a timepiece face onto a series of canopies or dispatching multiple assaulters with his facetious brand of bendy, aerobic kung- fu, only to end on a silly eye poke or a gymnasticsemi-levitation, the star- making flourish is so frequently the redundant thing he does when anyone differently would be finished.
But what do you do when, nearing 70 and with nearly 150 movie performances behind you, there are n’t that numerous one- more- moves left? perhaps you make commodity like Larry Yang’s “ Lift On, ” a gooey but pleasurable slice of family fun that has a nice steed doing wacky tricks for the youngish observers and for parents and aged suckers, is a gently meta, valedictory canter through the paddock of Chan’s former achievements.
Chan plays Luo, a formerly-successful stuntman( which gives Yang the reason to include always- welcome footage of Chan’s trick work through the decades) who has fallen — through wastes of sugar glass and scaffolding, no mistrustfulness — on hard times. Now, accompanied only by Red Hare, the cherished steed he nursed to health from a sickly foal, Luo is reduced to redundant work and to dressing them both up in frothy costumes to bait excursionists into print ops. But indeed this threadbare canine- and- pony actuality is under trouble. Luo is in debt. Collector Dami( Andy On) and his henchmen try to take Red Hare as collateral, but videotape of man and steed cartoonishly demeaning the mugs goes viral, which both enrages Dami and rekindles interest in Luo’s trick moxie.
Still, attorneys come to Luo’s house — further a repurposed, open- air dojo/ troop where he used to train his stuntmen “ votaries ” and which has numerous a useful exposed ray/ loose graduation lying about — and advertise their intention to reclaim Red Hare. In torture, Luo, who refers to the steed as his son, turns to his estranged mortal son, Bao( Liu Haocun), who’s now studying for her law degree and has a just- good fiancé Mickey( Kevin Guo). Bao is reluctant, but ultimately sees her father for the contrite parent he now is, being especially moved by his bond with her equine “ family. ” They attune, but she wants him to stop putting himself and Red Hare in peril doing trick work, just when they’re getting back in the game — cue a fun montage of Chan in elaborate costumes, numerous of them seesawing to his former successes, performing horseback hijinks on the sets of colorful action epics.
In verity, the emotional geography of “ Lift On ” is painted with a encounter so broad it’s principally a comber, with Chan’s charm and Liu’s radiant Neutrogena healthiness just about compensating for Yang’s script, which keeps having to manufacture new rifts to be magically healed with a change of heart, a clinch and couple of close- ups. Lao Zai’s necessary, soupy scoring is so thickly smeared on that it makes the actually moving moments feel unnecessarily manipulative, and there really is no fleshly reason why Yang and editor Super Zhang could n’t have reined this thing in at lower than 126 twinkles long.
But it’s hard to stay frenetic at a movie where part of the bagginess is a result of the generous impulse to laud the frequently underrated benefactions of trick brigades and to pay homage to an unequaled action legend getting back into the defile one further time. Because as important as Yang goes for, and occasionally reaches, the emotional jugular in the father/ son story, that’s not where the heart of “ Lift On ” really resides. rather it’s in the fights, which are a little more diced- up and lower fluid than they might formerly have been but are still defiantly done for real indeed though, as a CG-happy director tells Luo latterly on, “ no bone
falls for real these days. ”
And in the near- obsolete stuntman “ law ” that Luo clings to, “ Lift On ” gets further unanticipated resonance. To watch a rapt, gently rueful Chan observing his youngish tone performing some crazy feat of athleticism and bravado, like the marquee- machine- chase sequence from “ Police Story, ” is a perfect portrayal of the double bind that’s the passage of time for an artist whose immature, elastic recklessness was always so important part of his appeal. “ Jumping down is easy, ” Luo tells anex-student who has gone on to be a star stuntman in his own right, “ Stepping down is hard. ” For all its four- quadrant family benevolence, “ Lift On ” also feels like Chan, his heritage complete and unimpeachable, not stepping down so much as gracefully stepping across — to the morning of a new chapter, maybe, as the elder statesman of the somersault, the scissor- kick and the death- defying trick. He is n’t owed anything lower, and he does n’t owe the pictures anything further.