A Mistake That Should Stay Hidden
Hidden Strike, the latest high octane action thriller from world class action hero and certifiable daredevil, Jackie Chan. This time he is joined by internet legend and WWE wrestling royalty, John Cena. These two should be the modern dream team when it comes to ass kicking duos. John Cena brings the boom to Jackie Chan’s pow in order to take down a despicable eco terrorist organization responsible for kidnapping a group of scientists. If nothing else, the testosterone alone should get the viewer’s hearts pumping with crazy stunts that’ll make viewers go “wow”.The film was directed by Scott Waugh and produced by Changchun film studio. The film was initially released on July 06, 2023 and is currently streaming on Netflix.
Stereotypical Action Plot
The film’s central plot felt as generic as could be. One character is an ex-mercenary trying to forget his past by caring for a village while the other is trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter. Even with minimal experience of watching action movies, most viewers will be able to predict what happens next in any given scene. This wouldn’t necessarily be such a bad thing as some movies will take advantage of this to bring some sort of self awareness or even break expectations by the end of the film.Unfortunately, there is no such luck for this film.
There’s a twist early on in the film that occurs with little to no proper set up. Despite the lack of a meaningful set up, the twist still comes off as completely predictable. The pacing is okay for a modern day action film but at times it feels like they’re just trying to pad the film up for extra run time. At times, it feels like the film is trying to be like the latter installments of The Fast & The Furious franchise. This is hardly surprising as the director, Scott Wuagh, also worked on Need for Speed. This film also featured intense car stunts and tried imitating The Fast & the Furious franchise to no success. The setting work is simple enough, a warzone located in a Middle eastern-esque location (i.e desert). For the purposes of the film, this setting works but would’ve worked even better if not for the over use of CGI. This, however, will be touched upon in greater length later on in the article.
Aside from his incredible work ethic and death defying stunts, Jackie Chan is also known for his incredible chemistry with his costars. This is the reason why Rush Hour is such an unforgettable classic. The onscreen chemistry shared by Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker is so believable and organic that the rest of the movie just naturally falls into place. So naturally, one would assume that putting two of the biggest names in action comedy together would be a recipe for success. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Jackie Chan and John Cena fail to create a believable buddy dynamic.
The film unsurprisingly uses the typical instant hate followed by gradual love popular in such buddy duo dynamics. This kind of dynamic worked really well in Shanghai Noon, another Jackie Chan film which also starred Owen Wilson. The dynamic between these also felt organic and fun to watch. So why does Hidden Strike fail to achieve the same effect? Simply put, their dynamic is off. In the previously mentioned films, Jackie often played the role of the stoic man ( the serious person in a comedic duo). Starring alongside the likes of Chris Tucker and Owen Wilson who were already known for their goofy and comedic roles prior, Jackie Chan was able to create a believable dynamic.
This could best be summed up as the goofy big mouth comedian meets the slapstick action hero. It would be easy to blame everything on John Cena who is certainly less experienced when it comes to comedy than some of the previous actors Jackie has worked with. The truth, however, is that their on screen dynamic just doesn’t work. Most of the time, it feels like the audience is either stuck with two straight men or two goofy big mouths which is hardly a good dynamic.
The CGI Aesthetic
It’s difficult to approach this topic without seemingly going into a rant about how every action movie has the same problem nowadays.The problem of course has to do with the overuse of CGI. Over the years, it’s no secret that movies have been over relying on the use of CGI in movies. Whether for cool special effects or to avoid safety issues common with stunts, CGI has become the industry standard. While CGI can certainly have its merits in enhancing a scene, overuse can often have a negative effect on a film. In the case of this film, that’s putting it lightly.
The use of CGI in this film can often feel genuinely confusing and insulting at times. There are moments in the film where they needlessly use CGI when not doing so would have yielded better results. For example, there is one particular fight scene that occurs on a bus that is genuinely cool and fun to watch. Up until they bring in the CGI which makes the scene a headache to follow. It’s one thing to rely on CGI for dangerous stunts, it’s another to rely on it just out of laziness. There are scenes with well thought out action sequences and choreography that end up getting ruined because the CGI is so distracting.
It is genuinely difficult to give any Jackie Chan film a low rating. In this case, it’s even harder to recommend this disappointing film, even to Jackie Chan fans. Even if viewers are die hard Jackie Chan fans, it would be better to just wait for someone to create a compilation of all of his scenes in this film. Hidden Strike is worth a one time watch for people who like drinking alone on a Saturday night. Better yet, this film is available to stream on Netflix. For anyone on the lookout for a good action movie, let this one stay hidden and out of sight.
Hidden Strike (2023) Official Trailer