Monday, April 5, 2010

Movie Review: Rumble In The Bronx

Well, this movie sure turned on the crazy at the end. The latest in my never-ending Jackie Chan Film Festival is the movie that finally got Jackie some positive exposure over here in the States, although it still be a few more years before he really hit it big with Rush Hour. This one starts out as more of an '80's style actioner - you know, where the street gangs all have neon dune buggies, ripped shirts and extraneous athletic gear? And there are automatic weapons shootouts in the middle of crowded streets (and no one gets hit)?

Jackie, newly arrived in America and helping to run a Chinese market, gets on the wrong side of said gang during a destructive street race, and so from there it looks like the plot will mostly be: gang beats up Jackie, Jackie fights back, gang trashes market, Jackie fights back, ... and so on until Jackie fights the big boss - the end. But instead, the script suddenly throws in a new plot line involving stolen diamonds and a larger (and better armed) crime syndicate - and now it's Jackie and the gang versus the syndicate. And here's where things go from standard action flick to full-on weird - people fed into woodchippers, a building torn down around Jackie (a bit taken from Thunderbolt, by the way), waterskiing without skis, and a street chase with a giant hovercraft!

Most of this is completely extraneous to the plot - Jackie's waterski adventure doesn't really lead anywhere, since the cops show up to continue the chase without his help, for example - but as a showcase for the insanity of Jackie and his stunt crew, it works out well. We'll continue to see this sort of stuff in future films (Mr. Nice Guy, in particular, will crib a lot of these action beats). The fight scenes take a bit of a back seat to the stunt work this time around, although once again, Jackie shows great imagination in the staging (the best sequence is set in a warehouse full of stolen merchandise, which Jackie takes full advantage of). And there was one moment involving a pipe wrench that was a laugh-out-loud moment for me.

This one is certainly enjoyable - it's not a standout in the overall Chan filmography, but it's a solid enough film and a template for much of the rest of his '90's work. Three stars. Up next: Jackie goes undercover in Jackie Chan's First Strike.

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