The Foreigner

Jackie Chan gets his own sort-of Taken movie with the surprisingly intense The Foreigner. After a bombing from an organization claiming to be a new offshoot of the IRA kills Chan’s daughter, he understandably wants revenge. Of course, Chan’s character has a particular set of skills, and he sets about putting them to use in creative, violent ways. The focus of Chan’s wrath is Pierce Brosnan, who plays a government official with former IRA-ties. Chan thinks Brosnan can point him toward the bombers; Brosnan wants no part of it. Punching, kicking and explosions follow.

The Foreigner comes from Goldeneye director Martin Campbell, and while on the surface it might seem like another action flick, there’s a little more than meets the eye going on here. For starters, this is a more sullen, dramatic turn from Chan than most of his English-language audience fans might be used to. Chan gets to stretch his dramatic chops here, playing an emotionally damaged character who has no qualms about spilling blood. But the film also gives the actor and stuntman plenty of opportunities to kick some ass and defy gravity.

Brosnan should consider settling into a bad guy phase of his career, because he plays the morally conflicted heavy quite nicely. Far removed from his smooth James Bond days, Brosnan’s character here is an unsubtle, easily rankled government man who really wishes Jackie Chan would just leave him the hell alone. Meanwhile, the rest of the film is surprisingly full of moments that develop the rest of the cast – even somewhat minor roles are fleshed-out, to a surprising degree. Overall, The Foreigner rises above its material, and is definitely worth seeing.

Special Features to Note: Sadly, the special features here are slim. There’s a “Making Of” feature that’t not even five minutes long. Instead, it’s just a series of lightning-quick interviews with Martin Campbell, Pierce Brosnan and Jackie Chan praising each other and the film. The same thing goes for a series of individual interviews with the three, where they have nothing but nice words to say about each other, and where Campbell stresses that while the film is certainly Taken-esque, it goes down paths that Taken did not.

The less-than-thorough special features here are a bummer. Chan is an actor who has always done his own stunts, and I’m assuming that’s the case here. It would’ve been fascinating to have a feature that went behind-the-scenes to show how the 63-year-old superstar still manages to throw himself into big action scenes. Alas, it’s not to be.

Special Features Include: 

      • The Making of The Foreigner
      • Interviews
      • Trailer #1
      • Trailer #2

Killing Gunther 

Holy shit, this movie is bad. Look, I know the idea behind this column is to focus on “the new Blu-ray releases you should check out,” and if you want to check out Killing Gunther out of some sort of morbid curiosity, then you should. But yikes, I was not prepared for how dreadful this movie turned out to be. Former Saturday Night Live performer Taran Killam writes, directs and stars here, and while I think Killam is funny and talented, Gunther is a total misfire.

For reasons I’m pretty sure no one involved with the film even understands, Killing Gunther is presented in a faux-documentary format. It’s totally unnecessary, and more often than not the film completely abandons this idea, only to grudgingly return to it. The premise involves Killam as a world-class assassin who assembles a team of fellow assassins (including Bobby Moynihan and Hannah Simone) with on goal: killing super assassin Gunther.

What follows is a comedy of errors, but the real error is probably even watching Killing Gunther to begin with. When it came to making this film, Killam seemed to believe that in order to make the movie funnier, everyone had to be loud, so as a result scene after scene features characters screaming at each other, to the point where you might end up with a headache.

Killing Gunther only really comes alive in its final few moments, when Gunther finally shows up. The character is played by none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger, who proceeds to steal the film. Sporting a stylish haircut and loud-yet-fashionable clothes, Schwarzenegger cuts a hilarious figure. Also, he seems to be the only actor here who is in on how stupid this movie is, and as a result, has fun with it. I’d say that Killing Gunther is worth seeing for Schwarzenegger’s performance alone, but since that amounts to about fifteen minutes total, you might want to steer clear.

Special Features to Note: Oh, hell – who cares? This movie is bad, you don’t need any special features. But if you want them, they’re here. There’s a blooper reel that’s funnier than that film itself, and a few deleted scenes, none of which add much of anything. Killing Gunther, everyone!

Special Features Include:

    • Blooper Reel
    • Deleted Scenes

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