Written by Edward Tang and Fibe Ma and directed by Stanley Tong, “Rumble in the Bronx” is an excellent Jackie Chan action film that exquisitely takes what worked so well in Chan’s Hong Kong action movies and plopped the story’s setting in the Bronx, New York City. Admittedly, before coming across a dvd copy of this movie at a closing video store, I had never heard of this one. So I took the opportunity to relish in what I knew would be, at the very least, an exercise in trying not to blink during Jackie Chan’s infamous white-knuckle action sequences. Although I had seen a fairly decent amount of Jackie Chan’s American work, it was only recently that I started to dig into his urban Hong Kong action films like “Police Story 1 & 2”, even though I had seen (and loved) his earlier work in “Drunken Master 1 & 2”. So, I was delighted to see that this film employed those same electric tactics in this new American landscape (even though, yes, the film was shot in Vancouver, Canada).
Okay, so, this movie isn’t void of flaws even though I loved the experience of watching it. The plot for example, is incredibly one note, and there’s almost no characterization for anyone other than cardboard thin mock-ups that play on cinema’s past or generic action movie caricatures. Granted, that isn’t the point of Jackie’s action heavy films of this period and that’s okay. The whole reason these movies got made in the first place is to marvel at the incredible skill and dedication that Jackie Chan commits to in his movies. He’s the rare actor that actually can fight and he cares a hell of a lot about the filmmaking process surrounding his movies. That being said, the story here is that Jackie Chan’s Keung is visiting from Hong Kong to help celebrate his uncle’s marriage. After some gang members steal from his uncle’s grocery store he tracks them down and fights them to prove a point. This garner’s more unwanted attention and soon Keung gets wrapped up in a crime war between the more chaos oriented street gangs and the highly efficient and professional crime syndicate of New York City. There’s some diamonds in play, Keung’s uncle’s store gets destroyed in retaliation by the crime syndicate- it’s a whole thing.
What’s interesting is that all of the actors in this film spoke in their native languages while on set and each respective country’s post production crews dubbed over the foreign languages. The result can feel like a TV-edit at times, but Jackie’s English dubs do sound like him- and knowing his work ethic I’m willing to bet he did his own English language dubs. At first I thought I might have gotten a strange edition of the dvd, but there are enough rated-R language uses- and enough implied gruesome violence- to have realized by the end that this was just how older movies with language barriers worked back then. The villains of the film were fairly impressive in my opinion. Jackie’s character had to fight the whole range of New York City bad guys. The chaos of the street gang was pretty entertaining, and they reminded me a lot of the look and feel of the many different gangs in “The Warriors”. The Syndicate criminals were incredibly precise with their brutality, they initially suspected the street gang for the loss of their stolen diamonds. So, naturally, they kidnapped two random gang members, threw one into a wood chipper, and sent the remaining guy back with his friend’s gooey remains in black trash bags. Oh, and the whole end sequence with a large hovercraft was pretty fun too!
There’s not a lot more I could say about this film other than to further gush about the excellent stunt work or the wonderful choreography on display. I highly recommend “Rumble in the Bronx”, it’s a great way to spend ninety minutes. If you like Jackie Chan’s older work and action movies in general definitely check this one out!
Final Score: Thousands of henchmen & 1 Jackie Chan!
*For some fun facts about this movie, check out the link below!
*Also, I’ve probably already shared this video before, but it bears repeating, check out this excellent video essay on Jackie Chan’s action/comedy methodology!