Monday, June 5, 2017

Film Review: The Bodyguard (2016)

The Bodyguard (Review)
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It has its fair share of flaws, but I still enjoyed it."

A retired bodyguard settles in a small town near the Russian border where he befriends a young girl. When the young girl's father gets into trouble, he rushes to rescue her...

The Bodyguard starts off a bit sloppy. It's all over the place, shifting tones and utilizing a narrator for no apparent reason. The plot follows Ding Hu (Sammo Hung), a retired bodyguard who witnesses a murder. The murder isn't really important, though—the film abandons that almost immediately. We're then introduced to Li (Andy Lau) and his young daughter Cherry, who are Ding's neighbors. Cherry frequently visits Ding after she argues with her father. Anyway, Li is a gambler. In order to pay off his debt to a gang boss, he's sent into Russia to retrieve a valuable bag. He does so, but the mission is quickly derailed. This leads the gangs to search for leverage against Li—Cherry. However, Ding has grown fond of her—and he won't let her go without a fight. It leads to a decent ending.

Don't get confused: The Bodyguard isn't a martial arts extravaganza a la The Raid or Ip Man. This is more of a drama/comedy with some action elements. The shifts in tone can be a bit jarring. Sometimes, it's a silly comedy—it even got me to chuckle a few times. Other times, it's a serious film about dementia and family. Then, towards the end, it's an action-packed martial arts movie. The elements don't mix well together, though. That's partly due to the story and the editing. Like I said, this film has the tendency to be all over the place. I wasn't a big fan of some of the story elements, either. Some things felt half-assed or tacked on, like the Russians' involvement. I liked it enough to watch it from beginning to end, I wouldn't say I was ever bored, but it's just not excellent or even great. It's somewhere in the middle.

Sammo Hung delivers a strong performance as the leading man, though. Andy Lau was also good, although his screen time is limited. The supporting cast was strong, too. The film looked okay and the music was decent. Some of the editing is sloppy. I wasn't a big fan of how the fight scenes were shot. The choppy slow-motion was distracting. The film was written by Kong Kwan and directed by Sammo Hung. The screenplay felt like a first draft. It never really develops its ideas and it feels scattered—for want of a better word. The story and its themes are interesting, but it could have been fine-tuned. Hung's direction fared a bit better, but he also failed to capture a consistent/seamless tone. That may have been due to the screenplay, though.

Overall, The Bodyguard is an entertaining film. It has its fair share of flaws, but I still enjoyed it. It kept my attention from beginning to end, it made me smile and laugh, and some of the fight scenes were good. Otherwise, it just doesn't excel. It's a solid rental or stream, though.

Score: 6/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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