Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"Rumble in the Bronx" (1995)

Starring Jackie Chan, Anita Mui and Francoise Yip
Written by Edward Tang and Fibe Ma
Directed by Stanley Tong
Rated R - Violence, language
Running Time: 106 minutes

Rumble in the BronxKeung (Jackie Chan) travels to New York City to attend the wedding of his uncle Bill (Bill Tung).  Bill is in the process of selling his supermarket to Elaine (Anita Mui).  That night, when some punks are wrecking cars in the neighborhood, Keung defends an antique automobile lent to his uncle for the wedding, drawing the ire of a local gang.  This leads to an escalating series of fights between Keung and the gang, which are interrupted by the arrival of some new players and a bag of stolen diamonds.  Now Keung faces the gang on one side and a criminal organization run by a man called White Tiger (Kris Lord) on the other.  He'll have to use all his wits and skills in a strange land to recover the diamonds, save the girl and defeat the bad guys.

There's really not much to "Rumble in the Bronx" that's worth explaining.  The story is mostly nonsense, spending half the movie on gang troubles only to randomly introduce the stolen diamonds that seem to have nothing to do with anything whatsoever.  Characters fight in one scene and then are friendly in the next.  There's no real rhyme or reason to anything that happens in this film.

According to Wikipedia, some 17 minutes of footage was cut from the American release of the film, which may go a long way toward explaining why "Rumble" seems so poorly written.  Not having seen the original Hong Kong version, I can't say if it does or not...

But "Rumble in the Bronx" does have one redeeming feature that is beyond debate: Jackie Chan.  This man is just too cool for words.  "Rumble" is full of his trademark hijinks, with fight scenes that are just as funny as they are awesome.  Stunt men and women go flying every which way, launched through the air by punches, kicks, or off of various bits of scenery.  Chan is constantly finding impressive ways to incorporate props and locations into the fights, especially one sequence in the gang's hideout which includes Chan bouncing off of pinball machines, beating opponents with refrigerator doors, glass bottles, a shopping cart and more. 

So while the story is a total mess, Jackie Chan once again delivers the fun in a series of fast, incredibly entertaining fight sequences.  It'd be nice to come across a Jackie Chan flick that has a story to match its technical prowess, but I've never failed to enjoy one of his films in any case.  "Rumble in the Bronx" was one of Chan's first mainstream exposures to American audiences, and it's a solid entry, though I had more fun with, say, "Drunken Master II" than I did here.  The fights are still great fun, and that's the real reason to watch any movie with Jackie Chan, right?