Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Tracker (USA, 2000)

Also (un)known under its Japanese title Blood Chase, The Tracker is pretty much what you might expect of the directorial debut of Jeff Schechter, the man who penned such thrilling, violent direct-to-video films as Dennis the Menace Strikes Again! (1998 / trailer), Care Bears: Journey to Joke-a-Lot (2004 / trailer) and Care Bears: Big Wish Movie (2005 / trailer)—in other words, it ain’t all that good. The Tracker is predictable and by-the-numbers, with a narrative that is less a story than a series of predictable, generic scenes with predictable, generic characters strung together so as to have a start, middle and finish. The film is, perhaps, comparable to a scentless fart: you might know that it’s there, but you won’t really notice it. Obviously inspired by Rush Hour (trailer), which hit the screens two years earlier in '98 (and in turn was simply a rehash of any number of thousands of mismatched buddy films), The Tracker tells the tale of two mismatched dudes that can’t stand each other but slowly gain respect for one another and end the film as deep-throating lovers. (Na, not really, but the last bit might have made the film a tad more interesting.) In truth, the two never even kiss, and they don't gain respect for each other as much as they do re-gain respect: the two are former best-buds long estranged.
The ex-buds are played by Casper van Dien, "the biggest named B-movie star that you've almost certainly never heard of" (according to The Unknown Movies Page) as Connie Spears, a former NY cop and current LA tracker, and Russell Wong as Rick Tsung, the brother of Kim Chang (Lexa Doig of Jason X [2001 / trailer]), the babe who broke Connie's heart by moving to New York and marrying the Paul Chang (George Chiang), the son of a Chinese Mafioso named, appropriately enough, Mr. Chang (Zenhu Han). When Paul is deflated by machine-gun-wielding killers and Kim kidnapped, Rick convinces his reluctant ex-pal to fly back to NYC to help him find his sister. In NYC the constantly squabbling pair hire Carmen (Françoise Robertson), a spirited Yellow Cab driver who has a hard punch and good aim with machine guns but can't use a Zippo as their driver, and begin to investigate amidst the gang war that the killing/kidnapping has ignited between the local Russian and Chinese mafias. Along the way Jack 'Chick' Cicollini (Jason Blicker), a wheelchair-bound cop and Connie’s former partner, joins the team; and as love blossoms between Chick and Carmen, Connie tracks the bad guys down….
That the film is as uninteresting as it is, is almost odd, for the guy who wrote The Tracker, Robert Geoffrion, is not incapable of taking generic plots and making them entertaining. He helped pen the generic but entertaining Dolph Lundgren flick The Peacekeeper in 1997 (trailer), and in 1996 he spit out the wonderfully deadpan and funny take on the stereotypical mismatched male-female buddy flick, Hollow Point (trailer). It would seem that by The Tracker he was drying up... which might explain why he doesn’t have a credit listed on imdb after 2001.
As mentioned earlier, The Tracker is comparable to silent, scentless fart. As such, one must add, it doesn't totally stink. True, it is generic from start to end, and Van Dien is an oddly repulsive and unlikeable actor this time around for someone that looks so much like a living, moving, blond-haired Ken doll, but the film is in focus and relatively well edited and shot, so even if every twist of the plot can be seen miles away—including the “big” one at the end—The Tracker manages to fly by without being too painful, no matter how much of the supposed humor falls flat. But even if this scentless fart is not a stinking turd, there is no real reason to watch it voluntarily when there are so many better (or far more entertainingly worse) films out there.
The Tracker is simply unmemorable, from start to finish, and as such really deserves to remain as unknown as it is.

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