May 3: Rumble in the Bronx | A Martial Arts Movie
In the category of Martial Arts Movie, Scott picked Rumble in the Bronx(1995), directed by Stanley Tong, written by Edward Tang and Fibe Ma, and starring Jackie Chan, Anita Mui, and Garvin Cross.
Now I am a huge fan of Jackie’s work in the Rush Hour trilogy, which are my guilty pleasure films, but I have not explored much else of his backlog, particularly his work prior to coming to Hollywood. Tony Zhou’s incredible YouTube series ‘Every Frame a Painting’ has an episode about the action comedy of Jackie Chan’s early work, that inspired me to go into one of Chan’s more popular pre-Hollywood releases: Rumble in the Bronx. Jackie Chan works with director and frequent collaborator Stanley Tong to make a fun, goofy vehicle for some great Jackie Chan stunt work and action.
When you compare the action of Rumble in the Bronx to the action in the typical Hollywood blockbusters such as Taken, or the Bourne series, Rumble really shines. Jackie Chan (who also acts as stunt coordinator) is very careful to keep all the action clear and in frame. The hits feel firm, not because of injected sound effects, but because there are no cuts to take the hit out of the screen; you actually see the people getting hit and the clarity of it is noticeable and refreshing right away. There is a constant rhythm to the action throughout each set piece, with hardly a spare moment slowing it down. This helps the movie to fly by and the action to be completely seamless. It reminded me a lot of Edgar Wright’s excellent Scott Pilgrim vs. the World; Scott Pilgrim is much goofier, but also features that same brand of rhythmic action.
The other thing I love so much about Rumble in the Bronx is that Jackie Chan utilizes the environment in all of the set pieces really well, not only for more hard-hitting action, but for humorous moments. The fight in the grocery store features food items and magazines. The fight in the gang’s hodge-podge/Hoover-town hideout features broken refrigerators, weird metal scaffolding, and more that are inventive and fun. The action never gets old because of how fresh it feels compared to the modern action blockbuster. Even the more bombastic set pieces, such as the lengthy climactic hovercraft chase scene are funny and fresh takes on action.
All in all, Rumble in the Bronx is simply a fairly mindless stunt show, with exciting action and not much else to write home about. It’s hard to hold that against the movie though, as it never really takes itself too seriously. If you can look past the fact that the plot lacks nuance and interesting twists, you’ll find a movie that shows off Jackie Chan’s considerable talents for humor and skilled action choreography and stunt work.
Want to keep up with the rest of our scavenger hunt? Check out the rest of our May Movie Challenge here.