Scott Waugh had the opportunity to make use of two phenomenal talents in his new movie Hidden Strike, but he couldn’t really achieve the impact he would have liked. It’s an odd pairing—Jackie Chan with John Cena. Both have the same initials, and for a while, it looked like they might go against each other, but the writing ensured that the story remained predictable. Written by Arash Amel, Hidden Strike neither invested much in complex character arcs nor any dilemmas that the characters would really have to struggle with. The movie is carried from one action sequence to the next, and Jackie and John try to salvage the one-note movie on their shoulders through their charm and goofy performances.
Jackie Chan has legendary status when it comes to action cinema. Having done films like The Legend of the Drunken Master and Rush Hour, he has nothing more to prove. John Cena, on the other hand, transitioned from the histrionics of WWE to movies where he has done a decent job in films such as Trainwreck and The Suicide Squad. In an era where the phenomenon of culturally diverse movies has become the norm, it bugs me that the writing in Hidden Strike couldn’t be better. The film has a healthy balance of both Mandarin and English, and it seems like this film was made to attract Chan and Cena’s fans, but even they might have problems with the overcooked scenarios and bland writing. Jackie creates a character that contains all his trademarks, which fans love him for, but even he cannot overcome the stretched second half of the film. Let’s take a look at ‘Luo Feng,’ Jackie Chan’s character in Hidden Strike.
Jackie Chan as Luo Feng
In a dystopian world, a few Chinese professionals manage oil refineries somewhere in the Middle East. They have a serious problem at hand. They are surrounded by the mercenaries known as ‘Rebels’, who want the oil refineries for themselves. The situation is critical, and the lawlessness spreading around the land meant they would have to escape soon. In comes Luo Feng, aka Dragon, leader of a private security team, who plans to extract the workers to a safe haven known as the ‘Green Zone.’ Feng seems to be a veteran, an ex-military man who has encountered such situations before and acts with confidence that gives the illusion that he will save everybody working in the oil refinery. Everybody trusts his decision, but when he decides that his team will take the route known as the ‘Highway to Death,’ doubts begin to crowd their minds.
Highway to Death was the shortest route, apparently, and all the others were blocked. Feng decided to pack the workers into buses and lead the convoy. Why did he volunteer for the mission? The reason may have been personal. Mei, Feng’s daughter, was also on his mind. She worked as a doctor in the refinery, and Feng wouldn’t let anything happen to her. The relationship between Mei and Feng was troubled. Feng left Mei’s mother for national duties, and Mei hadn’t forgiven him for that. She perceived him as having arrived to save the ‘workers’; not to save his daughter. Being a dad, he understood her anger and saw that it was futile to justify himself. Feng saved her a seat in his own bus and thought that within 8 hours, he would put her safely on the plane back to China, but fate had other plans.
The convoy was marked, and the ‘Rebels’ were after Professor Cheng, who was the key figure. John Cena’s character, Chris Van Horne, was also working with the Rebels, but he didn’t know their deadly plan. Feng knew that the route he had chosen would pose challenges, but he never thought that the mercenaries would outsmart him. Bus numbers eight and eleven were lost in a sandstorm. Feng’s instinct told him that the storm was man-made and the buses were under the mercenaries’ control. He asked Mei to accompany him as he navigated the desert, and they ended up encountering Chris while he was on his way back to his village. This is where Chris and Feng build their bond.
It wasn’t easy at all. Feng suspected Chris of being a mercenary and suspected him of kidnapping Professor Cheng and a few other workers who knew the code to operate the refinery. Only later did Feng find out that Chris had just lost his brother and wasn’t really a mercenary. From there on, Chris and Feng became a team. Feng went through a lot of changes during his time with Chris. When he landed in the country to extract refinery workers, he behaved like a hard-boiled professional, but Chris’s carefree nature and his attitude towards the village kids really changed Feng’s perception of him, which in turn brought a change in Feng too. He became lighthearted, and although he wanted his daughter’s forgiveness, Feng left it to a higher power to absolve him and make Mei see the truth.
Mei helped Chris decipher why the mercenaries were after the refinery. Actually, the country had a network of underground pipes that could fill oil tankers if the refinery gave the order. Chris and Feng decided to stop the leader of the ‘Rebels’, a man named Owen, who was trying to commit the greatest oil heist in history. He had kidnapped Professor Cheng for the codes, and only Feng and Chris could stop him. Feng promised Mei that he would return after killing Owen, but she couldn’t sit idly, hoping her father returned safely. So she followed him, risking her own life. It only meant that she had started to forgive Feng as he saw how he was ready to sacrifice his life to save his countrymen.
In the end, Feng’s sincerity was rewarded. He managed to save Professor Cheng and stop the oil heist. Chris and Mei helped him too, and finally, she forgave him. Mei kept a torn photo of Feng in her diary, symbolizing she was always close with him but had also severed ties. Feng wanted to mend the broken ties, which is why he restored the photo to its original state. He had the second half of that photo with him, where he could see his family. He safely kept Mei’s dairy with him and joined the photo when he got the chance. In a poignant moment, the father and daughter recognized that they didn’t have to punish each other any more by feigning indifference. Feng’s next mission came just in time, but this time he had both Mei and Chris on his side, and it finally looked like he would never become grumpy again and live as a happy man, ready to face the challenges head-on but with a smile on his face.