Monday 17 July 2023

REVIEW: Ride On (2023) - Starring Jackie Chan and Red Hare

Review by Jon Donnis
Before we start, let it be known I am a huge Jackie Chan fan, I own pretty much all of his films, so keep in mind I might be a little biased, but I will do my best to be objective.

Ride On tells the story of an old-school Kung Fu Stuntman and his stunt horse, now there is quite a bit of blurring of reality and fiction in this film, although Jackie Chan is not playing a character called Jackie Chan in the film, there are clearly a lot of parallels between the character and the real life Jackie Chan, in fact throughout the film they show you clips from old Jackie Chan films, and there are a few easter eggs in there too, referencing old films.

Meet Lao Luo (Jackie Chan), an exceptional old-school stunt performer who has forged an extraordinary bond with his loyal companion, Red Hare, a horse born with physical abnormalities that he spared from being put down as a calf. However, Lao's life has been plagued by a series of misfortunes. Eight years ago, a severe injury led him to financial ruin, and he tragically lost custody of his daughter, Xiao Bao, due to his divorce from his now-deceased wife while she was still a child.

One fateful evening, Lao and Red Hare find themselves entangled in a brawl with relentless debt collectors. To their dismay, they discover that Red Hare is at risk of being auctioned off as a consequence of their former owner's company going bankruptcy. Determined to save his beloved companion, Lao turns to his daughter, Bao (Liu Haocun), for help, she has grown up to become a promising law student at the university. Initially hesitant, Bao eventually offers the services of her boyfriend, Naihua (Guo Qilin), a newly qualified rookie lawyer to assist her father.

Meanwhile, following the viral spread of Lao's clash with the debt collectors, their plight catches the attention of film producers, leading to multiple job offers for Lao and Red Hare. Bao steps up as their legal representative, navigating the intricate world of the entertainment industry. While their collaboration proves mutually beneficial in the face of challenging circumstances, Bao begins to feel uneasy about her father's dangerous stunts, fearing for his and Red Hare's safety. Their relationship takes a strained turn when Lao embarrasses Bao in front of Naihua's parents, leading her to fall out with him.

Tragedy strikes when Lao and Red Hare suffer injuries during a particularly perilous stunt, resulting in Lao's hospitalization. In a turn of events, while searching for Lao's identification card at his home, Bao stumbles upon CCTV footage capturing a failed meeting between them from her childhood. Deeply moved by the unexpected discovery, Bao reconsiders her feelings and rushes to reconcile with her father at the hospital. Touched by their reunion, Lao makes a heartfelt promise to abandon his daredevil lifestyle for the sake of their relationship and safety.

As mentioned, this film blurs reality and fiction, and watching it you will wonder how much the story is coming from Chan's direct experiences, not only as an actor/stuntman, but perhaps with his real-life family.

Although this is advertised as an action comedy, this was way more emotional of a film than I expected, Jackie Chan cries a LOT of tears in this film, and you the viewer will find yourself drawn into the story of the old stuntman, as well as the love he has for his daughter and perhaps more so his horse.

The film also touches on aspects of Hong Kong cinema, and how the days of dangerous stunts with health and safety non existent are long gone. Jackie's character is introduced to how CGI can now be used to do the dangerous stunts, and how the legacy of the old school Kung Fu Stuntman is coming to an end.

Although Jackie still has many films to come, this would actually have been a great retirement film, a way to say good bye to the old, and hello to the new.

I loved the 1980s Kung Fu film era, great films like Police Story, Means on Wheels, Project A and so on, these films were special for so many reasons, and we will never get to see that type of film making done again, as it was so dangerous to the performers, Ride On tells that story well, and offers a perspective to the viewer that we may never have considered. And probably a way for Jackie Chan to explain why he went through what he did, but also perhaps an admittance that he also went too far.

This is a really emotional film, and if you are a fan of Jackie Chan, then this is an important film to see, if you are just a casual Jackie Chan fan, and expect the usual comedy japes and lengthy imaginative Kung Fu scenes, then perhaps you might be disappointed, don't get me wrong there are plenty of action scenes and imaginative Kung Fu scenes in Ride On, but the emotional aspect of the film definitely is the target. At about 2 hours this is a decent length, and probably the right length to tell the story that needed to be told.

The Good
Jackie Chan is 69 and he can still do it all, we need to appreciate him while we can. Ride On tells an important and at times heart wrenching story. The most emotional I have ever seen Jackie in any film of his, but there are still enough fun moments to balance it out. Special mention also for the horse, who is clearly fantastically trained.

The Bad
Although CGI is used for some of the more dangerous stunts, this film could not be made in the West as the animal rights people wouldn't allow it. There are a few scenes with the horse which could trigger you if you are a horse lover.

I enjoyed this film, and although it was way more emotional than I expected, it still had all the classic Jackie Chan ingredients that a film of his needs.

I score Ride on a solid 9/10.

Pre-Order on Home Entertainment now at

Trinity CineAsia presents Ride On releasing on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital from 24th July