What occurred to the John Cena and Jackie Chan movie Snafu?

If someone told you about a movie in which John Cena and Jackie Chan hit theaters soon, your ears would likely be wide awake. The concept of these two remarkable action stars teaming up for a movie is full of potential, especially since Chan is still capable of incredible stunt performances. Here’s the thing: this movie exists, it’s called Snafu—formerly known as Project X and X-Traction project– and the filming was completed years ago. Although Snafu was once slated to make a notable theatrical debut, it has not been known since when this film, which was almost entirely funded by Chinese companies, will actually be released or whether it will ever see the light of day. What happened here? How could a movie that united Cena and Chan be the equivalent of. will The day the clown cried for modern action film schlock?


Image via Warner Bros.

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To understand what happened we need to go to the beginning of Snafu, especially when the project started rolling. In June 2018, Deadline reported that Cena would star with Chan in the film, which would be shot in China. A lot has changed between then and now, including Cena’s caliber as an actor. This casting took place months earlier bumblebee came out, let alone his high profile work in The suicide squad or F9. Meanwhile, the love affair between the Hollywood studios and China, which lasted through the 2010s, was only now beginning to see a whiff of problems stemming from the tumultuous trade relationship between the US and China.

While there were some ominous signs of problems ahead, these two film industries were largely still friends, and that still made a production like Snafu, which used American filmmakers and actors, seem enticing. Shortly before shooting started in June 2018, the director has Scott Waugh and lead actors Chan and Cena talked about how excited they were for the movie. “It’s going to be so special,” said Cena, according to the THR. “Not only will we make a good film, I’ll learn so much too.” For his part, Chan was enthusiastic about the characters the project could offer the Chinese film industry. “China as a country is bigger and stronger now, so we really need heroes,” said Chan.

Jackie Chan Police Story

Image via Fortune Star Media

The same outlet also noted that the main cast agreed that Snafu (then titled Project X) would be hoping to see the then-recent hit of China’s biggest domestic action films such as. to repeat Wolf Warrior II. The play ended on a now unintended premonition in which Waugh expressed his hope that this production could be seen as the new standard for US-China film collaboration. “Cross-pollination has always been a challenge,” noted Waugh. “But we want it to entertain audiences everywhere.”

Filming went without any major publicly known issues, with Cena revealing his love for life in China during the filming in September 2018. By the end of the year, the cameras on Snafu were ready. At that point, it got quiet for the project, and in 2019 there was little glimpse of the plans for when this action film would be released. Cena referred to Snafu in advertising Dolittle in January 2020, but only to talk about his love for Chan and how he treats his crewmembers. The loving antidote painted a beautiful picture of his co-star, but Cena gave no indication of when this film would finally see the light of day.


Image via Universal Pictures

The film’s already uncertain release history was thrown even more into chaos when the COVID-19 pandemic first closed cinemas in China, Snafu’s main market, in January 2020, before the rest of the world’s multiplexes followed just two months later. Snafu couldn’t get the Chinese box office it was aiming for if there weren’t any movie theaters to play it in. When Chinese theaters reopened in July 2021, there was still no word on snafu, and multiplexes in that country instead focused on showing such films as the hit war drama, The eight hundred.

That is the other problem that most likely stifles Snafu’s release. In recent years, and especially in 2021, mainstream Chinese cinema has become more interested in local productions with Chinese movie stars. During the occasional Avengers: Endgame can still dominate the Chinese box office, such as Wolf Warriors II and Hi Mom are now the de facto titles Chinese moviegoers rush for. This is how an action film in which John Cena is on a par with Jackie Chan sounds like a marketing risk for Chinese distributors in 2021.

The whole project sounds even more risky to such people after Cena’s recent PR snafu. In May 2021, during the promotion F9, Cena identified Taiwan as a country strongly discouraged by the Chinese media. This sparked a backlash from China and an immediate apology from Cena. The reaction to the latter development has resulted in Cena being beaten up in both the west and east, with it unclear whether Chinese moviegoers will now seek an action film starring John Cena, even one that brings him together with Jackie Chan. Snafu has spent years lurking in the dark, but Cena’s recent publicity problems have helped alienate the one country that should come out in droves to see.

Vacation friends

Image via Hulu

It’s also unclear how much of a draw a title like Snafu would have in North America. While Cena’s Taiwanese Kerfuffle is not at the box office or releasing newer titles like F9 or Vacation friends, the bigger problem is that Chinese feature films rarely get much offense in the US.

In the meantime, Skiptrace, a 2016 film paired with Chan Johnny KnoxvilleHe could only muster a direct video-on-demand release in the US, so even the novelty of a notable American actor does not help domestic Chinese films gain wide circulation. Despite having two lead actors and a budget of $ 80 million, it is unclear whether there will be huge demand for a notable release of Snafu in the world’s two largest film markets.


Image via Saban Films

Where does Snafu go from here? It’s difficult to say. The Chinese film industry provides little to no explanation for when titles are suddenly put on hold. Hence, it is unlikely that there will be much clarity about the future of Snafu, especially since the box office prospects in all major areas appear slim at best. The greatest hope that John Cena and Jackie Chan have is that maybe a direct-to-video distributor can pick it up and publish it digitally.

This leaves Snafu in an incredibly uncomfortable position, especially given all the great hopes that were once attached to it. The idea of ​​Cena and Chan starring in an action movie still sounds like it could make a fun movie, while the enduring pull of Chan and action films in China certainly made Snafu appear to be a box office hit in the world’s greatest movie theater would market. But a lot has changed in the time between Snafu’s start of shooting and now. All of these changes have put Snafu in such a state of limbo that it seems likely that we will probably never actually get to this movie.

READ ON: John Cena Talks About Dolittle, The Suicide Squad, Fast 9, and Why He Loves Jackie Chan

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About the author

Douglas Laman
(61 published articles)

Douglas Laman is a lifelong film buff, writer, and Rotten Tomatoes-recognized critic, whose lyrics have appeared in media such as The Mary Sue, Fangoria, The Spool, and ScarleTeen. Doug lives on both the Autism Spectrum and Texas and loves Pugs, Showtunes, the Wes Anderson movie Fantastic Mr. Fox, and all of Carly Rae Jepsen’s music.

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