The long-in-development, at least from a post-production point-of-view, action comedy “Hidden Strike” has its first trailer, which you can watch above. That means the Jackie Chan/John Cena team-up flick, which was shot back in 2018, may finally reach cinemas or at least VOD. The film, initially titled “Snafu,” became a consistent victim of changing circumstances but external and internal.
The film was green-lit and shot amid a resurgence specifically in China for Jackie Chan-fronted actioners like “Kung Fu Yoga” and “Skiptrace.” The latter was also a (partially) English-language romp starring Johnny Knoxville in a clear attempt to recapture some of that “Rush Hour” or “Shanghai Knights” magic from the late 1990s and early 2000s.
“Skiptrace” earned $131 million in 2016 while the former globe-trotting adventure film “Kung Fu Yoga” earned $256 million in 2017. “Since then, “The Climbers” earned $174 million in 2019, but COVID obviously put a damper on such robust earnings for a moment.
Ironically, in late 2020, American movie theaters were so desperate for content that Chan’s ensemble actioner “Vanguard” became the first foreign-language Chan flick to get a nationwide opening since “Drunken Master II” in the summer of 2000.
However, the reopening for Chinese theaters also saw a further skewing of the marketplace toward local, Chinese-language blockbusters like “Hi, Mom,” “The Battle at Lake Changjin” and “Moon Man.”
John Cena’s comments during his “F9” promotional tour, which indirectly proclaimed the independence of Taiwan, probably didn’t help. However, “F9” was already on the downswing due to poor word of mouth prior to that controversy. Furthermore, “Fast X,” which also features Cena in a sizable role, has earned $110 million there thus far, well below “F9” but solid by COVID-era standards for Hollywood tentpoles.
Beyond those variables, it’s hard to know what will become of “Hidden Strike” — directed by “Expendables 4” and “Need for Speed” helmer Scott Waugh — until we have a better idea of where and how it will arrive in North America and China. Chan’s brief Chinese comeback seems to have comparatively disappeared, while Cena has little established drawing power in either marketplace save for added value in otherwise surefire biggies like “Bumblebee” and “F9.”
Considering how long ago it was made, “Hidden Strike” may find itself a film out of time, made for market realities that no longer exist. Oh well, at least those who are curious (raises hand) will get to sample the goods after all.