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Never knew you needed to see Jackie Chan battering the IRA? Netflix did...

Hong Kong's ultimate kung-fu tough guy's taking on Irish terrorists in Netflix's new big-budget feature film The Foreigner. And it's brilliant. Chan you believe it?

Netflix are in the business of making their own big-budget feature films now. They stick them out exclusively on their streaming service for us to watch in the comfort of our own homes without the interruption of ad breaks or any corporate sponsorship whatsoever. How do they make money out of that? Presumably the plan is to make entertainment of such alarmingly high quality that it entices new subscribers by the billion. If that is their strategy – and I can’t think of what else it might be – then we are heading into a truly golden age of entertainment. No longer will content creators be pandering to the lowest common denominator in a bid to please advertising partners who are more interested in audience numbers than the quality of the output. Instead, they will make stuff that lives and dies on its ability to fixate and enchant audiences by the sheer force of its creativity, originality and ambition.

They are certainly delivering in the case of their new movie, The Foreigner. How to describe this majestic, courageous, poetic, bold, tender and life-affirming piece of cinematic artistry? Well, let’s start with the plot. The IRA are back but this time they’re even worse than before and are calling themselves ‘The Authentic IRA’. They’ve started a bombing campaign in London so Jackie Chan decides to go to Belfast to fight them.

It’s not just kung fu… he also fights them using a load of ingenious homemade explosive devices fashioned from items bought at Wickes

I am a bit concerned that you might not have registered those last couple of sentences so let me reiterate: this is a film about Jackie Chan going to Ireland to single-handedly take on the IRA. Does Jackie Chan use his legendary kung fu skills on his Irish republican adversaries? Of course he does. What a stupid question. It would be a waste of Jackie Chan if he didn’t use his kung fu. But it’s not just kung fu. He also fights them using a load of ingenious homemade explosive devices, fashioned from items bought at high street DIY store Wickes.

I am not making any of this up. Nor am I being in the least bit arch, ironic or tongue-in-cheek when I describe this as one of the best films I have seen in recent years. It might sound like I am being daft when I write down the plot in black and white. But there’s no other way of describing it: it really is a film about Jackie Chan travelling to Ireland to use martial arts against a reformed Irish Republican Army. Did I mention that Pierce Brosnan plays a terrorist-turned-politician with a beard based on Gerry Adams’s? No? Well, he does.

All of which proves that capitalism is not only compatible with great culture but, as demonstrated by the Netflix model, can be the very engine of high art.

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