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10/13/2017

Jackie Chan Joins the Liam Neeson Club: A Conversation Between Members


The Foreigner
(UK/China/USA, 114 min.)
Dir. Martin Campbell, Writ. David Marconi
Starring: Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan, Katie Leung, Charlie Murphy, Orla Brady
Courtesy VVS Films
Liam Neeson, Denzel Washington, and Bruce Willis are sitting around a table. It’s 4:15 PM and the actors are partway through the seniors’ special at Denny’s. They nibble their chicken wings, lick their greasy spoons, and sip their decaf coffees while trading war stories of action films of the past.

In walks Jackie Chan.

Neeson looks up from his plate. “You too?” he asks. “Welcome to the club.”

“Ya,” replies Chan. “It was bound to happen. Better than a desk job, I guess.”

“Cheer up!” exclaims Willis, pulling out the fourth chair for Chan to join the table.

“Yeah,” grins Washington, eyeing Oskar Schindler to his right. “It’s not like your dignity’s been…TAKEN.”

“Aw, fuck you!” cries Neeson, throwing his mild chicken wing across the table. “That joke was old three movies ago.”

“At least you got an honorary Oscar,” nods Willis to Chan, trying to ease the situation.

“Least I’ve been nominated,” quips Neeson.

“King Kong ain’t got nuthin’ on me!” cracks Washington, nudging Neeson in the ribs with his two Oscars, which he carries at all times.

“Fuck this,” pouts Neeson. “I’m too old for this shit.”

“You already used that line in Taken 2,” cracks Chan, taking his seat while Washington and Willis hoot and holler until their lungs can’t take it anymore. 

Willis orders the boys another round of decaf coffees, while Washington grabs Chan the quarter chicken special and Neeson wipes tears with a wet nap. It’s just another day of showbusiness for these old dogs.

***

“What’re you working on now?” asks Neeson while Chan settles his napkin on his lap.

“New movie. The Foreigner. Comes out next week,” Chan replies. “It’s based on a book, The Chinaman. Anyone read it?”

“Ya. Shit made no sense to me,” says Willis.

“No pictures?” asks Washington.

Willis squints, angrily.

“Go on,” encourages Neeson, ignoring the salty peanut gallery.

“My character, Quan Minh, is a Chinese ex-pat and British citizen in London whose only daughter dies when rogue members of the IRA blow up a bank,” explains Chan.

“And goes on a bloodbath of vigilante justice to avenge said daughter?” asks Washington.

“Stole your gig!” laughs Willis to Neeson.

“Pfft! I did it first,” says Neeson proudly. “The true original.”

“Hey, hey, hey,” interjects Washington. “Carrie wasn’t my daughter. Just a friend.”

“This one’s different,” insists Chan. “Less Taxi Driver. See, Quan finds himself on the phone with Northern Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister, Liam Hennessey, played by Pierce Brosnan--you know, James Bond?”

“Yes, yes,” insists Neeson. “He joins us for dinner often.”

“See, Quan decides Hennessey is either connected to the bombers or has direct knowledge of them,” continues Chan. “Quan retaliates with violence and he starts bombing the people who might know something about the bombers. He runs around Belfast making pipe bombs while members of the IRA and the London police trade tips on ‘The Chinaman’ who is blowing shit up.”

Chinaman?” asks Washington.

“Wai-wai-wai-wai-wait,” interjects Willis. “I’m not following any of this.”

“He was Special Forces in China,” explains Chan. “He lost his family to Thai pirates and knows Kung Fu; how to build bombs. He bombs the IRA who bombed him.”

“Irish car bombs all around!” Neeson insists to the waitress bussing the tables.

“This is a Denny’s, gramps,” she replies dryly before moving on down the line.

“Still not getting it,” says Willis. “Why are you killing them?”

“So, you’re basically playing a guy who slings noodles and can then take out armies like Kung Fu Rambo?” asks Washington.

“Exactly!” nods Chan.

Washington laughs. “Where Fonzie once jumped the shark, Jackie Chan has officially punched the wolf.”

“Stories are neither the point nor the strength of films starring members of the LNC,” advises Neeson sagely.

“Shit doesn’t make any sense,” insists Willis. “But the action’s good?”

“The action’s really good,” smiles Chan. “I might be old, but I kick some pretty good ass.”

***

It’s nearly five. Dinner is almost done and the gentlemen are ready for bed. The waitress drops a check on the table.

Chan reaches for his fanny pack.

“Don’t worry,” winks Neeson. “I’ve taken care of it.”

***

The Foreigner opens in theatres on Friday, Oct. 13.