Sunday, September 15, 2013

HERE'S JACKIE!: Rumble in the Bronx

Rumble in the Bronx
Director: Stanley Tong
Year 1995

Rumble in the Bronx is an extremely fun action romp starring martial arts legend Jackie Chan. The film is responsible for introducing the international action star to American viewers, and damn what an impact he has left on the cinema world. After falling on deaf ears with his American efforts, 'Battle Creek Brawl' and 'The Protector', two ridiculously underrated features, Rumble in the Bronx took the US box office by storm opening countless numbers of cinema fans to an entirely new style of action comedy. Sprinkled with humor and filled with tightly choreographed fight scenes, this Hong Kong/Canada production features an in form Jackie as he does what he does best; crazy stunts, over the top comedy, and fast-paced action. I must mention that this is the film that introduced me to Jackie Chan, so needless to say it holds a special place in my cinema-loving heart.

The film follows a young Hong Kong man named Keung, who travels to New York City in order to attend his uncle's wedding. After agreeing to watch over his uncle's market in the Bronx while he is away on his honeymoon, Keung quickly stumbles into a heap of trouble with some local thugs after confronting a group of them shoplifting. Forced to defend his uncle's employees and place of business, Keung expertly takes matters into his own hands and beats up the gang-members, but this only serves to infuriate them and their leader Tony. Armed with his wits and his martial arts abilities, Keung must take on the local gang while desperately trying to keep his new-found friends safe, including his young neighbor Danny and Danny's beautiful older sister Nancy.

Jackie Chan takes on the role of Keung, the soft-spoken Hong Kong native who just so happens to be a martial arts badass. Jackie is absolutely explosive in this entry, putting it all on the line as he displays, with great results, that he is the master of this genre. Coming off the heels of his masterwork, The Legend of Drunken Master, Chan does great justice in introducing his style to an international audience. It's hard to believe that within just three years, Jackie had starred in City Hunter, Crime Story, Supercop 2, the previously mentioned Legend of Drunken Master and Rumble in the Bronx, and finally Thunderbolt, but that is just a testament on how truly hard working the man is. With Rumble in the Bronx, he showcases his unique style in a somewhat American setting and focused for American audiences, and the results are absolutely astounding.

The film is briskly paced, matching the hyper tempo of Chan's expertly crafted choreography, making for a film that doesn't dwell too long on the details, yet rather relishes in presenting the next insane set-piece and action oriented extravaganza. The style on display is a mish-mash of Jackie's trademark film cues as he uses everything but the kitchen sink in his fight scenes, creating some of the most memorable and creative fight sequences in his rather storied movie career. The raid on the gang headquarters is one of the most imaginatively choreographed set-pieces of the film, showcasing Chan as he slips through grocery carts, tumbles under pinball machines, and climbs up walls, all the while using inanimate objects like refrigerators, chairs, and skis as brutal weapons. The action is quick and fierce and it moves so smoothly that it's impossible to not be impressed at the skill on display.

The setting is also rather interesting for this film because we are basically centered in New York City, particularly the Bronx, or Hong Kong's version of what the Bronx would be like. It is strangely represented, having that international flavor on hand thanks to the diverse crew of Canadian and Hong Kong actors comprising the cast of New Yorkers. Anita Mui, an extremely talented and accomplished Hong Kong actress and popstar, takes on the role of Elaine, an associate of Keung's uncle. In this film she's able to flex her comedic muscles and display just how endearing she is as an actress. Canadian born Francoise Yip, also gets some time in the limelight as Nancy the former gang member turned Keung's love interest. It's not the most demanding of roles, but her stunning looks and fierce personality help bring an added kick to the proceedings. The rest of the cast including Morgan Lam as young Danny and Marc Akerstream as the prick turned nice guy Tony, and they do a commendable job in bringing the over the top world to life. Needless to say, the film has its fare share of wild and expressive characters.

Of course it wouldn't be a Jackie Chan film if it didn't infuse comedy into the mix, and with Rumble in the Bronx, Chan hams it up for all he's worth. As usual, a great deal of slapstick and classic comedy, in the vein of Charlie Chaplin, is at the root of the film, and it's all done in good fun. It is a style that has followed Jackie throughout his entire career and one that he has honed as the years have gone by. From his early Lo Wei produced work to his modern American efforts, Chan has always crafted his own unique style of combining comedy with action and Rumble in the Bronx really nails the formula, and in some of the oddest of ways. What I love most about this entry is the energy that it produces. It's infectious, and Jackie seems to feed off of this as he goes ape shit and pushes his body to the limits. That's one thing in a Jackie Chan film that you can always count on, and that is he will go absolutely crazy on the bad guys by the film's end, and this film is no exception. A true classic!

Rumble in the Bronx is an exceptionally good time at the movies and a perfect example of Jackie Chan's immeasurable talents. As an introduction to his work, it is a fine stepping stone, and you really can't go wrong with such an energetic production. Chan is in top form, showcasing why he is the master of this style of film-making, and his stunt work and fight choreography in the film is seamless in its fluidity and ingenuity.

The cast also matches up perfectly with Chan's vision, pulling out the comedic punches and maintaining that same exhausting pace and attention to detail in both expressive performances and relentless action. The diverse cast is a greatly appreciated addition to the film, and it helps to set it apart as a unique vision of this fictionalized version of New York City. Anita Mui, Francoise Yip, Morgan Lam, and Marc Aderstream do a great job in filling in this world, making it extremely entertaining and super-charged. That's really the best way to describe this film... Super-charged. It's fast paced, extremely expressive, outstandingly outrageous, overtly silly, and marvelously entertaining. If that's your thing then jump aboard this Jackie Chan driven crazy train. Rumble in the Bronx is.....

Jackie Chan finds out just how shitty New York City is.

Don't do it Danny! Don't pull Uncle Bill's finger!

Oh Anita Mui.... you're so crazy.

Jackie stumbles onto the Mad Max set. Look out Jackie!

That's one badass chick!

Don't make Jackie angry. You won't like him when he's angry.

See what I mean about over expressive!

It's Jackie the zombie! RUN!

Jackie! Stop playing with those man's balls!


Get some Jackie!

Jackie... you silly, silly man.

Look at this guy! He's a freak of nature!

Strike a pose there's nothing to it.... Vogue!

What the hell did you say about my jean jacket?!?!

Jackie quit clowning around!

Jackie look out!

Oh shit! He's got that look in his eyes again!

No comments:

Post a Comment