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Jackie Chan’s teaming with Johnny Knoxville in ‘Skiptrace’ lacks ‘Rush Hour,’ ‘Shanghai Noon’ spark

Jackie Chan’s teaming with Johnny Knoxville in ‘Skiptrace’ lacks ‘Rush Hour,’ ‘Shanghai Noon’ spark
Jackie Chan, left, and Johnny Knoxville in the movie "Skiptrace." (Dawa Hong / Saban Films / Lionsgate)

Jackie Chan tries recapturing his "Shanghai Noon" and "Rush Hour" magic with "Skiptrace," which sees the sexagenarian kung-fu king teaming up with vulgar American comedian Johnny Knoxville on a globe-hopping, crime-stopping adventure. All the principals are plenty capable, but this is hardly any of these folks' peak.

Chan plays a Hong Kong detective grappling with the loss of his partner. Circumstances saddle him with a slick-talking American hustler (Knoxville) on the run from the Russian mob. The two try to identify a notorious, mysterious crime boss, while scrapping through Russia, Mongolia and China.

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Veteran action director Renny Harlin helmed "Skiptrace," bringing a boisterousness that's been missing from martial arts legend Chan's fairly grim recent work. There are a few stunning stunts, including an early eye-popper where Chan leaps between fishing cabins as they topple like dominoes.

But the action sequences rely too much on special effects enhancements and green screen; and the inclusion of Knoxville to the mix means that there's a high degree of clanging slapstick. Worse, Knoxville doesn't have the kind of chemistry with his costar that Owen Wilson or Chris Tucker did.

Too much of this project feels like it's been coldly calculated for maximum international box office — from the locations to the scene in which Chan drunkenly sings Adele's "Rolling in the Deep." The prolific Chan has made at least a dozen better films. Watch one of those before bothering with "Skiptrace." If you've already seen them, watch them again.

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'Skiptrace'

MPAA rating: PG-13, for action/violence, some suggestive content, language, brief nudity and drug material

Running time: 1 hour, 47 minutes

Playing: AMC Puente Hills 20, City of Industry

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