Children of Bond - Rumble in the Bronx 

Rumble in the Bronx is a 1996 martial arts action film starring Jackie Chan and directed by Stanley Tong. This film plays like a Jackie Chan blend of James Bond and Death Wish 3. After a few unsuccessful attempts to crack the US market in the past (Cannonball Run, The Protector) Rumble in the Bronx finally did the trick for Jackie and his profile outside of Hong Kong flourished. The film is set in New York (though fairly obviously shot in Vancouver) and in contrast to the later largely American based Jackie Chan films where our hero is given too little to do and saddled with a comic Hollywood actor, Rumble in the Bronx concentrates on action and incredible stuntwork, feeling much closer to Chan's classic eighties Hong Kong adventures in spirit than the diluted Hollywood Jackie Chan films that followed over the years.
In Rumble in the Bronx's simple plot, Jackie Chan plays Keung, a Hong Kong martial arts champion who arrives in New York to visit his Uncle Bill (Bill Tung). Bill is selling his supermarket to Elaine (Anita Mui) so that he can retire and get married and Keung has an interest because of a stake in the store. Elaine is subsequently threatened by local protection rackets - in addition to local thugs including Nancy (Françoise Yip), sister of the wheelchair bound Danny (Morgan Lam). Things become even more complicated when Uzi armed thieves leave a stash of their diamond heist in a cushion on Danny's wheelchair. Keung is soon up to his neck in trouble as he seeks to save the day.
With minimal plot, Rumble in the Bronx wisely gets on with it and proves to be an entertaining enough addition to Jackie Chan's long career. The charms of Jackie Chan's Hong Kong films for me, apart from the obvious stunts and fun, are the locations and authentic Hong Kong atmosphere, even the subtitles. While Rumble in the Bronx lacks some of the magic of Chan's Hong Kong films because of its transplanted location and dubbed actors, it is a very entertaining film on its own terms with some incredible stuntwork. You get the impression that everyone worked extra hard to make this a breakthrough film for Jackie. To its credit Rumble in the Bronx has a frenetic pace and piles on some elaborate set-pieces rather than get too bogged down in a soppy romance or too many comic interludes.
Highlights of this action-packed film include a race sequence with duelling motorcyclists racing down a street crammed with parked cars and subsequently running over them (!) and a scene where Jackie Chan is chased by a gang on motorcycles and dives through a car sunroof before a motorcycle almost drives straight into him. In Rumble in the Bronx, Jackie Chan is still throwing himself into the stunts with great panache and enthusiasm.
The wooden acting and cardboard villains are all part of the fun. You don't watch a Jackie Chan film for the acting. The film's mad plot and general feel good nature win the day with Jackie presented much as he was in his Hong Kong films as a likeable chap up to his neck in mayhem trying to do the right thing. Amongst the villains, Kris Lord as Diamond thief White Tiger camps it up to good effect and Marc Akerstream is suitably horrible as biker gang member Tony. There might be a few too many baddies in this film to be honest but then one group does team up with Jackie Chan eventually.

Other memorable moments in Rumble in the Bronx include a bottle attack on Keung which is quite nasty and provides a good degree of tension and a classic Jackie Chan fight scene in the gang headquarters which involves pool tables, fridges, supermarket trolleys and pinball machines! This scene is great fun and really gets the best of its athletic star, serving as a tribute to his invention in the simplest of settings. The most famous stunt in the film involves an incredible no strings jump from a multi-storey car park onto a tiny balcony across the other side of the street. As with previous Jackie Chan films, this stunt is shot from different angles in order to make it more epic and is presented from some different perspectives.
While the cast, including Anita Mui and Françoise Yip, are pleasant enough, thankfully Rumble in the Bronx remains Jackie Chan's film and a good showcase for his acrobatic stunts and Buster Keaton style fight scenes and facial expressions. Humour is generally more cartoonish than subtle in Jackie Chan films and while not everything always translates in this area there are some pleasantly funny moments in Rumble in the Bronx. One nice moment occurs when Jackie admires himself in a mirror unaware that Elaine can see him because the mirror is used for shoplifter surveillance. Anita Mui is quite good as the buttoned down Elaine and there is a sort of running gag where her supermarket keeps being demolished!
With a climax involving a stolen hovercraft no less and a sleek Lamborghini, Rumble in the Bronx builds to a gloriously over the top and entertaining climax. One of the highlights of the film actually occurs over the end credits when, in Jackie Chan tradition, we are shown (often painful looking) outtakes of stunts going wrong to the song "Kung Fu" by Ash. It's a fascinating look at the many incredible stunts that Chan performed himself for the film and very entertaining. By the way, Jackie Chan broke an ankle making this film but completed it with a cast disguised to look like a shoe! Rumble in the Bronx is not up to the Hong Kong classics like the Police Story series, Armour of God or Project A I & II in my opinion. It lacks the authentic feel and pure rush of those films. However, it is considerably more entertaining than the likes of Rush Hour or The Tuxedo and much closer in spirit to Hong Kong Jackie than Hollywood Jackie.
- Jake

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