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Review Ride On a.k.a. Long ma jing shen (2023): Tribute to unsung heroes!

genre: action, comedy, drama

Ride On almost felt like Jackie Chan's farewell to the film industry. If Jackie Chan stopped making films right now, this one, would exactly be the right film to end it with. The emotional impact was real. Of course, the melodrama helped a lot to convey this. Still, there are quite some themes in this film that hit me hard.

Not going to lie, I wasn't really expecting to be moved, but I did. The relationship of Jackie Chan's character Lao Luo and his horse Red Hare is basically a father, son relationship. This immensely beautiful horse was so sweet and they way he and Lao Luo interacted just brought happiness. I literally could have watched them be for hours and hours. Of course, their bond is the core of the story and will get to you. Then there is the sub-plot of the daughter and father reconnecting. In most of Jackie Chan's films where he plays a father, he seems to play, the father who has neglected care or was out of the picture too long. This must be autobiographical, because I read that his relationship with his two children are bad to non-existent. Perhaps, he is finally realizing what is truly important in life, and he is trying to make amends. Or it's very cold-blooded, and he is trying to convince the viewer that deep down he is a good father. Let's hope he is sincere and will be the man he is in this film.

That being said, I found the daughter to be quite annoying at times. She supposedly is an adult, but keeps acting like a teenager. Granted, the film doesn't dig deeper in this relationship, but Lao Luo just has to say something she doesn't agree with, and she is angry. Even if at times her anger stems from heartbreak and maybe trauma, she still should understand, that the man looks at life different. Just because you want him to change, doesn't mean you can. I am glad they did make sure to show that while her approach was wrong, she did mean well. 

Then there is the part that struck me profoundly. The film cuts to many scenes of older Jackie Chan films where you get to see him doing insane stunts and action sequences. Especially, the bloopers. Lao Luo, should be more revered and respected. Yet this film makes it absolutely clear, that the big honchos basically see you as a prop they can toss away whenever they want. There is no respect. And I always found this to be the most perplexing. These people literally risk their lives for a piece of entertainment, and the majority of filmmakers don't even care. The same can be said for the animals in the film industry. Red Hare is exposed to real dangerous violence and terror, but the horse is expected to be calm and composed at all times. Very big ask of these gentle but sensitive creatures. And at the same time, the film also briefly confronts you with the fact that these brave stuntmen and animals can be replaced by CGI. I like they way they handled this, CGI can't beat real stunts, ever!

Overall, I loved this film. While it easily could have gone deeper, I liked how it kept things basic but very relatable. And if for whatever reason you weren't aware, Jackie Chan shows what a good actor he is. I can easily see him doing non action films and be a powerhouse. 

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