Oh hey. Welcome back to the 7 Days of Jackie Chan.
Listen, something happened between us yesterday. Something raw and passionate and...sudden.
Yeah. I know. It was a big surprise for me, too.
I never thought that would happen with you. Not that you're not good looking or anything. It's just...I've never thought about you in that way before.
That's why I decided this morning that I want to be up front with you. I want you to know that I don't want anything to come between our friendship. It's, like, important to me, you know?
I think it's because you're the only person who really gets this whole "Jackie Chan blog series" thing. My friends think it's kinda weird, but whatever. One of them is obsessed with Melissa McCarthy's teeth and another loves Adam Sandler movies so obviously they have no taste. That's why I need you in my life.
So, whaddya say? Are we still friends? We are? Good. I'm glad. It means so much to me.
Here we are at Day 6 with a little iconic martial arts movie I like to call Rumble in the Bronx (1995), Jackie Chan’s official entry point into the American mainstream. Pretty sure most of you have seen this before. If not, I won't judge you. It's all good.
I'm going to go out on a limb and claim that behind Rush Hour, RitB is probably JC's most iconic movie in the states. I'm not counting The Karate Kid remake because 1.) I didn't see it and 2.) I'm scared to. If you feel like disagreeing with me as usual then go right ahead. It doesn't matter anymore. I know how you really feel about me now. (Whoops, I wasn't supposed to bring that up again, was I?)
Believe it or not, Rumble in the Bronx represents a personal milestone in my life. It’s one of the very first “grown-up” movies I ever saw in a theater with my Dad when I was ten. By "grown-up," I’m referring to an R-rated movie - the most adult thing next to cable porn in a '90s kid's eyes.
Sure, my parents had rented R-rated movies from the grocery store and watched them while I was hanging around the living room before. I caught my fair share of s-words, nipples and fake sex at an early age. Who hasn't?
But Rumble in the Bronx is the very first time I ever went to a movie theater, on purpose, with my Dad, to see an motion picture that the MPAA gave an R rating to on the big screen. Kind of a big deal for me.
I remember the theater as if I dreamt about it last night. It was a modestly suburban multiplex located in the middle of a shopping plaza in Boise, Idaho. Everything about it was run-of-the-mill, completely unremarkable by any moviegoer's standards. It was so average, in fact, that it had all the typical mise en scene expected from any theater. The rows of worn out seats that had been red a long time ago, the chilly white walls made of ice cold cinder block, the requisite unearthly popcorn scent that somehow permeated even into bathrooms. It had it all.
To this day, that crappy movie house has always been synonymous with Rumble in the Bronx in my mind. It was an extension of the grown-up world that I was gazing into through the immense screen that rose up above me. It made me feel like I was actually in a city. (At the time, I was living in a small mountain community in Nevada, so Boise seemed like the big time to me anyway.)
Although these personal details will always be fresh in my memory, I have never for the life of me been able to recall just what the hell Rumble in the Bronx was even about. I remembered that it took place in New York. I knew there were generous portions of kicks and punches. And maybe a rumble here and there. But that’s about it.
Naturally, I was just a little bit eager to revisit this one, just to see if it was as “grown-up” as I once had remembered it to be.
I guess it’s ironic that I found out Rumble in the Bronx is, essentially, an R-rated movie made for ten year olds.
Yeah, sure, this is an important film in Chan’s legacy. It’s the keystone to his global popularity, historically speaking. But let’s be real here. This is not a very good film in any sort of capacity, and its plot is probably one of the most thin and pointless that I’ve ever sat through. (That’s saying a hell of a lot coming from me.)
Okay, okay. Yes, the well-choreographed stunts in this are fucking amazing as usual. No complaint there. But after spending the past five days watching his earlier films, the entirety of RitB is a bit of a letdown.
That's in part because it's feels like just another routine Jackie Chan picture, awkward slapstick moments and all. It's badically a checklist of ingredients that need to be marked off one by one. The plot is just there to make sure that it justifies and connects these semi-coherently.
Let's take a look at his list, shall we?
1.) Goofy protagonist that means well but gets mixed up in some seriously lethal situation?
Check. Jackie’s character, Keung, may be a sweetheart, but he’s not much of a character. He’s just, well, Jackie Chan. He does charitable deeds, wears a sunny face, and does embarrassingly endearing acts like pick his nose in a one-way mirror when he thinks no one else is watching.
2.) Sexy women that said goofy protagonist juggles?
Check. Much like Day 4's Police Story, RitB features two different women for Chan to figure out what to do with. One is an easy-on-the-eyes good girl. The other is not so good yet way, way hotter. Guess which one he winds up with?
3.) One-dimensional antagonists that are little more than stunt men holding guns?
Check. Actually, RitB is a somewhat revolutionary for a Chan film from this era because you have numerous groups of bad guys that must be dealt with before the running time is over. This sounds a lot cooler on paper, because in reality this means that each faction gets less screen time devoted to the development of their motives, characteristics and goals.
They only distinguishing factor between these groups of villains is how they’re dressed, and that’s not a great sign.
4.) Action sequence that features major property damage?
Check. The market that Elena bought from Keung’s Uncle Bill is torn down by a semi truck. It’s pretty great, actually.
5.) Epic stunt that involves Jackie Chan jumping off of something really fucking tall and gets instantly replayed from various angles like you're watching ESPN 2?
Check. This time it’s from a parking garage. Not as cool as the mall thing. But hey, we’ll gladly take it.
6.) Big, long-winded climax that’s more concerned about playing with its set pieces like an 7 year-old rather than providing closure to the main storyline?
Total check. This one is a boat chase sequence that feels like it goes on for-fucking-ever. It’s cool to see Jackie Chan jet ski without any skis, and he rides a really large boat thing through the city (reminded me of the tank scene from Goldeneye). But after all is said and done and the credits start rolling...you realize there wasn't much substance to that at all.
7.) Self-congratulatory stunt blooper reel that features footage of Jackie Chan being seriously injured yet still rolling with the punches?
Check! Jackie breaks his leg and doesn’t have any fucks to give. Nope, none. It’s just a flesh wound, dogg. Fuck it. Keep jumping off of those buildings like a boss, JC. We love you.
Almost like yesterdays's Armour of God, Rumble in the Bronx takes place in a cartoon universe. Did my ten year old self realize this? I don’t think so. I'm pretty sure he was too busy being wowed by the initiation into the world of R-rated movies in the heart of Boise, Idaho.
But that doesn’t matter. That's the perfect age to be dazzled by a film such as this. When else could I take the naive, overly-choreographed street fights in gaudy looking alleyways as gospel? When else could I look past the poor dubbing and awkward pacing and be transported into a version of the Big Apple that doesn’t exist, in a theater that isn’t around anymore, with my father who isn’t getting any younger?
I don’t care if I didn’t enjoy RitB today because my cinematic palette is more sophisticated now. I also don’t care if I never ever want to see it again as an adult. This film will always represent that special moment in the ‘90s when I got to see a real grown-up movie full of action, some blood, suggested sexual situations and a couple cuss words for posterity.
Join us tomorrow for the final day of the 7 Days of Jackie Chan, in which we actually spend 80 days together. Because I just wanted to stretch this out as much as possible, just to spend more time with you! Uh, I mean Jackie. Yes, that's what I really meant, honest. See you then? Please?