Hidden Strike Review

Take away the novelty of these two infamous actors sharing the screen for the first (and possibly only) time and replace it with contrived comedic and dramatic beats, and you have a recipe for a bust of a movie.

John Cena and Jackie Chan’s comedic and action backgrounds buoyed this feature to respectability. Still, it sincerely doesn’t meet the loftiest expectations for a project that was delayed for nearly five years to debut. Nitpickers might say that was due to Cena’s controversial apology to China over comments on Taiwan or China’s continual actions (since 2019) of refusing to work with Western nations over movie distributing policies. In reality, COVID measures most likely stalled this feature for the longest period while folks online debated whether this feature would ever be released.

Anyway, Hidden Strike is, at best, another buddy-comedy movie in a string of them and, at worst, another example of a movie that is not done well enough to be memorable. The story revolves around two ex-soldiers who must stop villainous people from performing Baghdad’s biggest oil heist in history. Chris (Cena) stumbles upon Luo (Chan) after a kidnapping, and both work together across the desert landscape to save the doctor and stop the criminals from making it to the border. Someone took inspiration from the classic Mad Max: Fury Road, but it becomes a cheap imitation that induces a hollow sensation. And yes, there are subtle nods towards Chan’s more successful runs in this genre with the Rush Hour trilogy, which sometimes felt grounded with some weightier jokes, and the dynamic between Chris Tucker and Chan was beautiful. Here, it’s a flimsy attempt at this act of camaraderie and not enough of an engaging story to remain relevant. Cena and Chan do their best to keep the film’s runtime moving along, even when the cards do not work in their favor.

The pacing of this feature is incredibly sluggish for the first forty minutes, failing to pursue some momentum until the leads stumble upon one another. Pilou Asbaek’s take on the villain is a waste of mustered energy, making him no different than the goons running around with guns or swords to take on the leading duo. And the CGI is a horrific fever dream that would make The Mummy Returns practically look like a prized achievement. Director Scott Waugh (Need for Speed, upcoming Expend4bles) still has not found a suitable formula as all his films rely on bombastic storytelling and dodgy action to trudge on to their climax, and it’s painfully prevalent here.

Thankfully, the action does shine in spurts here, with Chan doing his best with the limitations at his age while Cena showcases his power and goofy humor at select moments. Subjectively, a few folks may get a kick out of the juvenile interactions between both. Yet, it’s another film without much consideration or respect towards the talent it has at the helm; a generic story and erratic rhythm halt its “strikes.”

Each individual’s talent makes for an attractive element of vigor but is neither man’s best work in a feature that would’ve gotten lost in the fog half a decade ago. Thus, Hidden Strike is a tepid 103-minute feature silently released onto Netflix that will only get attention if you’re a diehard Cena or Chan fan or happen to stumble upon its existence if there’s nothing much going on.

*Hidden Strike was released on Netflix on July 28th, 2023, starring John Cena and Jackie Chan.

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