Capsule Reviews: THE HITMAN'S BODYGUARD and BIRTH OF THE DRAGON | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Monday, 28 August 2017


Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) and Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) had a hard time getting along in THE HITMAN'S BODYGUARD (2017)

A buddy comedy is a dime a dozen. But how often you get to see a high-concept premise where the two mismatched pair happens to be a bodyguard (Ryan Reynolds' Michael Bryce) protecting a hitman (Samuel L. Jackson's Darius Kincaid)? Screenwriter Tom O'Connor's setup clearly has lots of potentials but the overall execution falls short. Beyond the concept, it's all business as usual. Basically, if you see one buddy comedy from the likes of 48 HRS. (1982), LETHAL WEAPON (1987) and MIDNIGHT RUN (1988), you've seen them all. The plot is generic while the profanity-laden jokes don't really generate as many laughs as expected. But THE HITMAN'S BODYGUARD remains adequately entertaining, thanks to Patrick Hughes' effective direction in the action department. He certainly shows more confidence than he last did in THE EXPENDABLES 3 (2014). The chemistry between Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson are fun to watch for, while Gary Oldman still has what it takes to play a ruthless antagonist role.

The legendary fight between Bruce Lee (Philip Ng) and Wong Jack Man (Xia Yu) in BIRTH OF THE DRAGON (2017)

According to the title, it was clearly stated BIRTH OF THE DRAGON. And yet, this so-called true story about the legendary fight between the pre-fame Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man, which took place in 1964 does not feature the actor (Philip Ng) who played the title role as the main character. Instead, the movie made an odd choice by emphasising more on Billy Magnussen's Steve McKee character. Why is this fictional character even matters? To make things worst, director George Nolfi alongside screenwriters Christopher Wilkinson and Stephen J. Rivele go as far as establishing McKee as a central figure who got heavily involved with the aforementioned legendary fight. If that's not insulting enough, he even has an elaborate subplot involving a forbidden romance with a beautiful Asian waitress (Qu Jingjing). Nolfi clearly has little respect for the way he portrayed Bruce Lee nothing more than a one-dimensional arrogant individual. Philip Ng may have the look and some of the charisma of the late martial arts legend. But it wasn't enough to make his underwritten character worthwhile. Xia Yu, in the meantime, fares better as the guilt-ridden Wong Jack Man. Although the fight scenes are neatly choreographed using lots of long takes and overhead shots, the overall action is surprisingly unspectacular.

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