Chan is the real thing, and frankly, he makes Van Damme look like a brick-stupid, hairless Belgian ape. He makes Stallone look like a five-foot-four pile of lukewarm carpaccio. He makes Schwarzenegger look like a no talent, Humvee-driving Aryan.|
Chan has been a hit in mainland China and in Japan for many years but has made almost no impression in the United States, until now. This is probably because his films were unable to gain a foothold in the crowded field that included Mannequin, North Dallas Forty, and Prancer. It's also quite possible that American studio executives felt certain we wouldn't understand Chan's unique blend of martial arts, comedy, and action. So they made Teen Wolf instead.
Chan has made several half-baked attempts to conquer the American market before. Once in the Scotch-fueled Hal Needham effort, Cannonball Run 1 & 2, and once in the Danny Aiello yawner The Protector. I was thrilled that two of his most recent efforts, Rumble in the Bronx and Supercop, were widely released, saving me the efforts of pawing through stacks of videos at Asian markets, where large, clumsy Midwesterners with a propensity to tip over stacks of dried black fungus are not a welcome sight.
Rumble in the Bronx, though a fairly stupid movie, does offer some vintage Chan in the way of stunts and special effects. In it, Chan plays a Chinese man who comes to America to help his uncle with his store in the Bronx. Much like Kane in Kung Fu, he immediately runs afoul of the local toughs who, to my eye, look no tougher than the seventh-season cast of "Fame." Perhaps that's enough, when one takes into consideration Jesse Borrego, Nia Peeples, and that one keyboard player who looks like a cross between Lou Ferrigno and Billy Squier.
Chan squares off with the ersatz members of the High School for the Performing Arts and ends up befriending the disabled nephew of one of their members. Then, as often happens in the Bronx, a merciless drug syndicate (as opposed to the less prevalent "caring and lenient" drug syndicate) uses the wheelchair of Chan's young friend to hide a stash of diamonds.
Chan mends his fences with the Flashdance-ian gang of rakehells and chides them, "You are all scum."
"He's right," they agree, and soon are working together against the drug lords.
I can't say it's not a dumb movie, yet as an introduction to Jackie Chan, you could do a lot worse. Much of it quite obviously wasn't filmed in the Bronx, and the dubbing is only marginally better than your average kung fu film, yet as entertainment, it's worth as least six Last Action Heros, two dozen The Specialists, and several hundred Van Damme films, your choice.
Supercop is a much better film. It was in wide release only recently, though it was made several years earlier. I saw it in small release under the title Supercop 2, if memory serves...
The stunts that Chan pulls off are simply incredible, and certainly quite illegal if filmed in the United States. I won't even go into plot, for it barely matters. Just see it.
In fact, if you must see a Schwarzenegger film, pay for a Chan film and sneak in to see Arnie.
Directed by Stanley Tong. Starring Jackie Chan, Philip Chan, Maggie Cheung, Michelle Yeoh, Josephine Koo, Kenneth Tsang, Kelvin Wong, Yuen Wah, Lo Lieh, Shum Wai. Dubbed into English
95 minutes rated R for violence.
© 2000 Michael J. Nelson. All rights reserved, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles & reviews. Mike Nelson is no relation to Lloyd Bridges and has never run low on air while hunting around under the sea.
Check the Monstervision page for time & date of Jackie Chan films showing this week.
Books by Michael Nelson include Movie Megacheese. Mike's episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 are available on both video and on DVD, and he co-wrote the MST3000 book
Monstervision's Joe Bob Briggs Looks At
Snake in the Eagle's Shadow (1983)
(From Joe Bob's Ultimate B Movie Guide)
King of Chopsocky Jackie Chan (back when he spelled his name "Jacky") battles a bunch of Yul Brynner look-alikes who can't stand snake-style kung fu--Jacky's specialty. Snake-style is so fast that the old-man master (Simmon Yuen, the guy who always plays the old-man master) can kung-fu mosquitoes in his sleep. In fact, the old bearded guy with goat hair all over his face is the last living snake-style fighter, so he has to go around dressed like a beggar so the Yul Brynners can't find him and slice him into cat food. Jacky is scrubbing floors at the kung fu school, except when the dragon-fist master tells him to go out and be a human punching bag for this fat little rich kid who's wasting his time trying to learn how to bust up bricks with his fist. The old goat-hair guy takes pity on Jacky and leads him out into the wilderness to get tough and Rocky-up for the big snake-style paint-the-desert-red fistfest with one preying-mantis-style guy and one guy who dresses up like a priest but is actually a Communist Russia spy trying to murder Goat-Hair. None of these turkeys realize Jacky's secret, which is when he combines snake-style with cat's-claw style, because if you ever noticed, a cat can kill a snake due to its claws being so fast. (We know this because Jacky watches a cat kill a snake.) The cat's claw is especially valuable when used directly on the cojones.
Fifteen complete kung-fu fight scenes, including everything from one-on-one to four-on-one to eight-on-two.
Three complete kung-fu comedy scenes, including one with a scrub brush.
Excellent dubbed thwocks and whooshes.
One guy karates three layers of bricks.
Less than one pint blood.
Five dead bodies.
© 2000 Joe Bob Briggs. All Rights
Reserved. Not an AOL Time-Warner Company in this lifetime.
For this and other movie reviews by the artist formerly known as the host of MonsterVision, go to Joe Bob Briggs.com