Review by Russell D. Hoffman of Rumble in the Bronx starring Jackie Chan

Review by Russell D. Hoffman of Hong Kong Kung Fu action film Rumble in the Bronx starring Jackie Chan

Released on Home Video Rental Summer 1996 by New Line Cinema. 91 minutes.

Review by Russell D. Hoffman

Copyright (c) 1996 by Russell D. Hoffman.

If Jackie Chan hadn't been given a special lifetime achievment Oscar recently just for being Jackie Chan, a lot of people would dismiss him as 'just another' karate star, whatever that is. You probably think either that you like Kung Fu and Karate movies or that you don't.

But if you think you are the type that doesn't, I suggest you break with tradition and give Rumble in the Bronx a try. Yes, it's violent. It's bloody. It's rough. And the plot is as full of holes as the bodies. But it's also hilarious, and it's an emotional roller coaster. It's coherent, it's full of proper moral solutions to complex situations, and in many way's it's--unfortunately--very real. It's fast-paced too.

It's interesting that so many of our best movie action heros have to have a sense of humor. If Schwarzenegger's "I'll be back" or "Hasta la vista, baby" lines don't elicit laughs, they are in big trouble. But they do, so the movies are funny, and the special effects are great, and good triumphs over evil, and we enjoy the movies time and again.

Jackie Chan movies don't have much in the way of special effects. A good special effect in one of his films might be rolling a pickup truck chock full of plastic balls off a four-story building. It's a really good effect, though! Blows away watching yet another TV get thrown off the balcony, let me tell you! It's an image you'll treasure the rest of your life. And it didn't require computer-generated Harriers.

Jackie Chan movies are funny. Especially the fights. The tricks this man pulls out of nowhere to defend or escape are bizzare. Yet everything works. He doesn't need trick photography--he uses real tricks. The better the camera picks up what he really does, the more amazed the audience is. Jackie pulls out all the stops. He will climb anywhere, jump anywhere, throw anything, and use anything as a shield or a weapon or a tool. He's the Rube Goldberg of karate.

And the most amazing thing is, of course, that after some twenty years in the business, he still does all his own stunts. So here's this 'old' man doing backflips, jumping across buildings, and beating up everyone that tries to harm him or anyone else in his presence. He'll out-psych you if that will work. Then he'll out-punch you, out-crunch you, and out-munch you to a pulp--but always just barely. Unless you've been really bad, he just hurts you enough to change your behavior pattern to one of non-aggression. And in the process, he often gets hurt nearly as much himself!

If you enjoy acrobatics, you'll enjoy Rumble. In one scene, Jackie is cornered by a gang coming at him on one side, two walls, and a chain-link fence that is at least 10 or 12 feet high. He runs full speed up to the corner where the fence meets one of the walls, takes first one step high up on the fence, then one even higher on the wall, then another step on the fence, one more on the wall, and grabs the top of the fence and flings himself over. It's a scene you'll want to replay several times. But you probably won't, because it's about the 20th incredible stunt you've seen so far in the movie.

Jackie Chan is creative. He's the Picasso of action flicks. And he's humble. He's the Mother Teresa of Kung Fu superheros. And he's the modern era's answer to Buster Keaton and Jerry Lewis.

I must say a word about the violence, both as a warning and as social comment. Don't bring your kids to Jackie Chan films till they've seen their first 10,000 homicides on T.V. (which they will do long before they reach puberty in a typical American household). Some of the violence is definitely hard to stomach.

Jackie is okay, of course, but the villians do some pretty wicked and wretched things. After all, they have to be badder than Jackie, and he can kill, maim, and disable in just about every manner possible. Most of the time, Jackie gets hurt as badly as anybody, until he wins over the hearts, the minds, and/or the muscles of his opponents.

Be sure to watch through the credits for the outtakes and completions of scenes. Jackie Chan is awesome, but when you see these, you'll find out that's he's still quite human. These may be the most gut-wrenching scenes in the whole movie.

Other Movie Reviews At This Web Site:
Independence Day
Fly Away Home

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First placed online August 12th, 1996.
Last modified March 27th, 1997.
Webwiz: Russell D. Hoffman
Copyright (c) Russell D. Hoffman