Directed by Ding Sheng
Starring Jackie Chan, Jaycee Chan, Da Hai, and Fan Chuan
Film Review by Bailey Claringbold
The Flying Tigers are a team of boneheaded bandits led by Ma Yuan (Jackie Chan), whose choice of target are locomotives. After an injured soldier from the Chinese army stumbles across them it is up to the band to overthrow the Japanese army by blowing up a bridge crossing into their home territory. Of course, things don’t always go to plan.
The biggest strength in Railroad Tigers was the chemistry between the team and main characters. Each had their own personality and quirk, and although there wasn’t too much depth in terms of character background, it wasn’t really necessary here as the on-screen charisma was phenomenal.
It was a treat to see Chan back in his element, with some hilarious slap-stick comedy and witty remarks, as well as still being able to perform some insane stunts at the tender age of 63. The tight chemistry and bond may be in part due to Jaycee Chan starring alongside his father, allowing their real-life family tie to shine through. The other cast members also gave some decent performances, and meshed together well with their comedic timing. However, the film faced some pacing issues, leaving some sequences drawn out or putting in scenes that appeared to be filler. Although the script balanced the characters and comedy well, it was bogged down by the pace.
Visually the location choices in Railroad Tigers were scenic and beautiful, with some great sweeping shots of the vast plains. The colour palette worked effectively, with the characters' earth-coloured clothing making the vibrant backgrounds pop. This was even further enhanced by the creative cinematography. The CGI elements weren’t always perfect, such as the animation of the train and vehicles at some points, but it can be overlooked as the film did not rely on these effects too much. In terms of the editing, there were some rather abrupt and abrasive transitions throughout which gave the feeling of video game cut scenes rather than a film. Although down to personal preference, I felt that some of the cuts were an odd decision.
One of the biggest and most surprising highlights was the score which utilised traditional Chinese music with some modern influence. In the humorous scenes the melodies became bumbling and gave the sense that Ma Yuan and his gang had absolutely no idea what they were doing. On the contrary, when then action became intense the score handled a more serious and dramatic sound which aided the film’s emotional impact extremely well.
All in all, Railroad Tigers is a fantastic throwback for any Jackie Chan fan, providing that classic slapstick comedy and sense of adventure as well as some superb performances across the board. The choreography is executed perfectly, as you’d expect, and the score is brilliantly written. Although it suffers from some slow pacing, as well as some strange editing, Railroad Tigers is most definitely worth your time.