A new action movie opens this week based on a book called "The Chinaman" - a casual slur repeated often in the picture - but that's far from the most jarring thing about it.
People get kneecapped. Beaten. Impaled. Slashed. Shot. Blown up. And, once, hooked up to a car battery and tortured.
This is a Jackie Chan movie?
Yes, but not the character that audiences once saw in Hong Kong imports like "Drunken Master" and then in American films like "Shanghai Knights" and the "Rush Hour" series.
People got used to that character, and the way those movies mixed slapstick and action (and always ended with a blooper reel of accidents). But then fans seemed to get a little bored with them.
So Chan is back with a different, harder, edgier approach.
Although it's based on a novel, the movie feels like a deliberate mash-up of "First Blood" and "Taken." Chan plays Quan, an ex-Special Forces vet now living in London with his only child, a college student.
Then an IRA bomb goes off, slaughtering her and other innocents.
Quan wants only one thing - to hunt down the killers. But when the British government's minister for Irish affairs - an ex-IRA man himself - refuses to share any leads, Quan decides to first go after him.
This is the story, such as it is, and frankly David Marconi's script is a bit of a mess. The politics stretch credulity, and the backstory makes no sense (How did the Chinese-born Quan, age 61, fight for the Americans in the Tet Offensive nearly 50 years ago?) And don't even try to keep track of the double-crosses and double-agents.
Still, the duplicitous ex-IRA man is played by Pierce Brosnan, and he's clearly enjoying playing a far-from-gentlemanly character, and director Martin Campbell - who once put Brosnan through his Bond paces in "GoldenEye" - can certainly direct an action scene.
And, of course, it's great to see Chan (who's actually 63), back in action again. After the death of Bruce Lee, he was the king of kung-fu (and would occasionally do harder, darker action movies like "Crime Story"). He never lost his authenticity.
But after mainland China re-absorbed Hong Kong, comical, cynical Cantonese cinema gave way to stately Mandarin epics, built on history, spectacle and not always carefully disguised propaganda points. Chan made a few, but Americans mostly stayed away.
"The Foreigner" hopes to bring them back.
It's a Chinese production, too, and although subtler, its politics are still there (its view of Western governments as comprising torturing, murdering
terrorists is one even InfoWars might find farfetched). Thankfully, though, there are no stately court processions or pseudo-Confucian lectures - just fist-in-the-face action.
The sadism is a little unusual for a Jackie Chan picture, and not exactly welcome. He's still light on his feet, but his movies - even the few rare serious ones - used to be, too. When the violence came, it was usually as punctuation - not the entire point and purpose.
But it's still nice to see him on screen, and a warning to Liam Neeson, Bruce Willis, Harrison Ford and the rest. You want to keep trying to make your AARP action movies, you go right ahead. But the real grandmaster is back and ready to go.
Ratings note: The film contains violence, strong language and sexual situations.
'The Foreigner' (R) STX Entertainment (114 min.) Directed by Martin Campbell. With Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan. Now playing in New Jersey. TWO AND A HALF STARS
Stephen Whitty may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwhitty. Find him on Facebook....Read more