Sunday, 19 April 2015

Rumble In The Bronx

Title: Rumble In The Bronx
Director: Stanley Tong
Released: 1995
Starring: Jackie Chan, Anita Mui, Francosie Yip, Bill Tung, Marc Akerstream, Garvin Cross, Morgan Lam, Kris Lord

Plot: Keung (Chan) travels to New York to attend his uncle’s wedding, who has recently sold his supermarket to Elaine (Mui) only for her to soon find herself the target of a local motorcycle gang. Things only get more complex when the bikers occur the wrath of the powerful gangster White Tiger (Lord)

Review: After several failed attempts to break into the American market with films like “Battle Creek Brawl” and the ill-advised attempt at turning Chan into a tough cop in “The Protector”. A film which would ultimately end up being re-edited by Chan for the superior Hong Kong cut, while in turn inspiring him to make arguably his best film “Police Story”. Here though we get an interesting mixture of Chan’s usual slapstick and breath taking stunt work only now with attempts to make Chan more sexually appearing as gone is the Beatles haircut while he seems to now favour vest tops which emphasise his toned form more than in previous films, were he seemed to dressed to cover his physique to make him seem much more of an everyman.

In a story which seems to be a reworking of Bruce Lee’s “Way of the Dragon” Keung finds himself frequently having to defend the store against the local motorcycle gang, whose paths frequently cross with Keung including a surprisingly brutal sequence in which Keung is pelted with glass bottles while cornered down an alleyway. Things only get more complex when Keung discovers that Nancy (Yip) the sister of his disabled next door neighbour is also the girlfriend of the gang leader Tony (Akerstream). For the established fans of Chan’s work this film is essentially business as usual bar the slight aforementioned changes to his usual style of character and the change of location which sees Vancouver standing in for New York which for the most part works, bar the occasional shots where mountains are visible in the background. This however is really nit picking especially when it only becomes noticeable when highlighted.

While this might have been designed as a vehicle for Chan, fellow Hong Kong cinema favourite Anita Mui appears here, mainly for comic relief which might come as a disappointment to fans of her films like “Saviour of the Soul” and “The Heroic Trio” and despite initially being setup as a romantic interest. Introduced as the attractive business woman, she is bizarrely dressed down as soon as Keung starts getting involved with Nancy and her brother. Despite this sudden change of direction for her character she still manages to put in a fun performance throughout which at times seems to echo Maggie Chung’s performance as May in “Police Story”.

The story on the whole is pretty flimsy in places and isn’t helped by some over acted performances by some of the cast members, whose performances are only further hammed up with the questionable dubbing track which the studio decided to add for many of its English speaking cast. While the film starts off with Keung taking on the biker gang which would have worked fine, the fact that we get a second group of bad guys only seems to highlight the lack of faith in them being a believable threat. More baffling is how it only takes a beatdown at their hideout for them to suddenly make them allies, despite all the destruction they caused to the store and let’s not forget they also projectile bottled Keung earlier in the film, but he’s more than happy to let all that go, even hoping that their next meeting will see them drinking as friends. Ok true the last part is said in his native tongue and makes for a badass end to an equally badass showdown between Keung and the bikers

The fact that the plotting of the film is so questionable is not a huge issue thanks to some engaging performances from Chan, whose kung fu klutz style transfers well here while Chung provides some fun comic relief which helps to make up for the lack of action she gets here. The action scenes through are unquestionably the real draw here, with Chan crafting some memorable and as always creative fight scenes as he manages to turn any number of objects into surprisingly effective weapons, with a hijacked hovercraft chase providing an equally inventive finale including Chan making a leap which resulted in breaking his leg which like so many of the mishaps you get to see during Chan’s traditional end credits outtakes.

Thanks to Golden Harvest handling the production, Chan has clearly been afforded the same time to work on his fight scenes that he was afforded with his other Hong Kong productions which helped them to stand out from the American productions which regularly suffered from comparisons to the fights and stunt work seen in his earlier films, thanks largely to American studios not being willing to schedule Chan the kind of time he has become legendry for assigning to these sequences with his quest for perfection seeing Chan more than happy to shoot the same scenes over and over, which he wouldn’t be afforded with his American productions. This film clearly argues the case for Chan being assigned this time.

While perhaps not as good as many of his earlier Hong Kong productions, this is certainly one of the strongest of his later films and unsurprisingly would be the film which helped his break into Hollywood.

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