"Chan the Man" and a stud of a horse elevate this animal picture.
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There were a few disparate Clint Eastwood movies that sprang to mind when watching Jackie Chan’s latest offering “Ride On” (now available on Blu-ray, DVD and VOD) – these being the animal pictures “Every Which Way but Loose” and “Any Which Way You Can” and … believe it or not … “Unforgiven.” An orangutan is switched out for a horse and Chan grapples with his on-screen image in a way that’s reminiscent of how Eastwood examined his legacy.
Lao Luo (Chan) is an aging stuntman who’s fallen on hard times. He suffered a debilitating accident eight years prior that stalled his career and left him in financial ruin. His estranged daughter Xiao Bao (Liu Haocun) wants nothing to do with him … so much so they haven’t spoken in six years. The only thing Lao has going for him is Red Hare, a horse he saved from euthanization at birth (the foal was born with crooked legs and weak lungs) who was gifted to him by a failed film financier.
Unfortunately, Lao is also at risk of losing Red Hare. Debt collectors led by Dami Ge (Andy On) want the horse as payment and corporate lawyer Li Yan (Xiaoshenyang) stakes claim to the animal on behalf of powerful CEO He Xin (Yu Rongguang).
Lao reaches out to Bao, a law student, for legal assistance. She’s hesitant at first, but ultimately offers up the services her lawyer boyfriend Naihua (Kevin Guo).
Lao’s career is resurrected and Red Hare’s is ignited when a video of them kicking the crap out of Dami Ge and his men goes viral. Bao assumes the role of Lao’s agent, but is concerned about the safety of her father and the horse. An enticing offer from former protégé-made-good Yuanjie (“Wolf Warrior” star Wu Jing in an extended cameo) threatens to divide father and daughter once more.
“Ride On” as written and directed by Larry Yang (he previously helmed the Stephon Marbury hoops doc “My Other Home”) is cheesy, corny and overlong (two hours and six minutes is too much for this tale), but it’s also super-charming and moved me to tears multiple times. There is a slight ickiness to the proceedings due to Chan’s estrangement from his real-life daughter (read more about it here), but the 69-year-old martial artist still has the moves (expertly choreographed and coordinated by Han Guan-hua and He Jun, respectively) and the acting chops to sell this goofiness. (Perhaps “Ride On” is a mea culpa of sorts to Chan’s child?)
As a longtime Chan fan I certainly got nostalgic seeing a series of his greatest hits clips and the context in which they’re used definitely got me misty. “Ride On” is a family-friendly flick propelled by “Chan the Man” and a horse that’s a true stud. It should appeal to the masses so long as they can overlook the project’s inherent silliness.