Watch: Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan face off in The Foreigner trailer, showing Hong Kong star in a rare straight role
Chan plays it ‘dead straight’ as the grieving London father of an IRA bombing victim out for revenge opposite Brosnan, the government minister out to thwart him - but don’t worry, there are still fight scenes aplenty
Just to get the first question out of the way, Pierce Brosnan, known in many circles as 007 James Bond, and martial arts legend Jackie Chan do not spar in their upcoming film, The Foreigner.
“That did not come into the equation,” Irishman Brosnan, 64, admits. “I might have thrown a few Irish roundhouse [kicks] and probably would have been dealt with quite quickly.”
Instead, the two stars face off in a cat-and-mouse conflict that drives the action thriller (in US cinemas from October 13), which unveils its first trailer exclusively at usatoday.com.
Chan, 63, was awarded an honorary Oscar in November for his stunt-filled career. But in The Foreigner, the actor shows a different side from his martial arts films, or the comical acting in his well-known Rush Hour movies. Chan delves into pained emotion as the humble London Chinatown restaurateur Quan, who loses his daughter in an IRA bombing.
“It’s a very unique role for him, not what you’d expect of Jackie Chan,” says director Martin Campbell. “He’s playing a dead-straight role, a very quiet, determined old man with a singular focus of tracking down whoever killed his daughter.”
Chan embraced the opportunity to show his emotive chops. “It was important for me to do a role that was more serious, with a lot of emotion,” says Chan. “To prepare, I imagined what it would be like to be the father dealing with that situation.”
The screen adaptation of Stephen Leather’s 1992 novel The Chinaman marks the reunion of Brosnan with Campbell, his director on 1995 Bond film GoldenEye. Brosnan’s Liam Hennessy is the British government minister from Northern Ireland put in charge of the bombing investigation, who tries to keep the true details from coming out and thwart revenge-seeking, grieving father Quan.
Brosnan says Chan was full-on gregarious around the movie’s London set. But Chan would go dark during shooting, as Quan punches his way through Hennessy’s henchmen.
“The days that we worked together started with joviality,” says Brosnan. “And they ended in absolute anguish and medieval violence. Jackie has a wonderful sense of humour. But once that bell went off, that was it.”
The drama’s thriller elements include a carefully planned bus explosion executed on a London bridge, which made headlines. (“All the locals and residents were warned,” says Campbell. “That took four months of negotiations.”)
Chan wasn’t permitted to shoot perilous stunts, such as the rooftop fight sequence seen in the trailer. “Simply because if he was hurt, we’d be in [trouble],” the director says. But Chan sparred extensively during the elaborate fight scenes. “My fans want to see me doing the stunts, and it keeps me in shape,” he says.
Campbell even changed up the traditional Jackie Chan fighting style.
“Quan’s fighting skills are slightly more military,” says Campbell. “Jackie keeps Quan well grounded, Pierce keeps his character well grounded. It’s actually a very serious drama.”