"Rumble in the Bronx"
Opens: Feb. 23, 1996 | Rated: R
There is an important key to enjoying a Jackie Chan movie: don't let the dubbing, the bare-bones basic storyline or the cheesy acting get in the way of appreciating the poetic genius of this man's stunts and fight choreography.
If this is a problem for you, get over it, because "Rumble in the Bronx" is just for fun -- giddy, surprising and raucous fun -- and there's no point complaining about something so secondary as acting in an action-comedy when much worse comes from the likes of Stallone and VanDamme and these guys don't even do their own stunts.
Jackie Chan is an international legend, and for good reason. The man jumps off of 20-story buildings, crashes cars and fights 20 guys at once while somehow maintaining an everyman persona. He's always a just normal guy -- OK, maybe he's an almost normal martial arts master, but he's not a super hero until he has to be, and that what has endeared him to audiences around the world.
In "Rumble in the Bronx," Chan's first American release in 16 years, he's a tourist from Hong Kong in New York for his uncle's wedding. His uncle is in the process of selling his corner grocery store (laid out in such a way that it's begging for a fight scene), when a gang of motorcycle hooligans starts terrorizing the place.
In the process of protecting the store and battling the gang, he stumbles into the aftermath of a Mafia jewelry heist and has to defeat the mobsters too.
Chan fans would expect nothing less.
Now understand, in the world of Jackie Chan it is important let go of certain expectations. Like an animated Disney movie in which one lets slide the trappings of 1950s sexual roles, "Rumble" is peppered with laughable characters and dialogue that could ruin the movie for someone who takes it too seriously.
The aforementioned gang is absurdly racially diverse (this was pointed out to Chan, but he wanted it that way), and a sub-plot involves a terminally cute kid in a wheelchair who can't act (and neither can the person who dubbed his in English lines).
On the topic of dubbing, the dialogue seem to have been translated by a bored librarian with a Cantonese-to-English dictionary -- "Do you have a girlfriend? You're cute," from a damsel in distress almost certainly had more pizzazz before it's textbook translation. And it is painfully obvious that "Rumble" used Vancouver as a stand-in for New York.
But every "oh, brother" is countered somewhere in the film with a worthy, side-splitting comic moment (Chan posing in a two-way mirror not knowing he's being watched and laughed at), or a death wish of a stunt or, more frequently, both.
The best scene in the film has Chan taking on the gang in an department store warehouse in a fight scene that took several days to shoot. His weapons: Refrigerators, TVs, skis, pinball machines, a grocery cart and, of course, his amazing martial arts skills.
As with all recent Jackie Chan movies, the credits are rolled over out-takes from fight scenes and stunts, some of which didn't go so well (Chan filmed the last six weeks of "Rumble" in a foot cast).
This is Chan's first American release since 1980's "The Big Brawl," a film over which he had no control and it subsequently bombed. "Rumble" is 100 percent Jackie Chan-written and produced, and his long-time director Stanley Tong took care of the rest, so everything is just as it should be for Jackie Chan's brand of fun.
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