FIST-FOOT MARATHON: Rumble in the Bronx (1995)

Directed By: Stanley Tong

 

Mr. Tong’s name probably sounds familiar to Jackie Chan fans, because Chan has been involved in one form or another in many of Stanley Tong’s films.The most recent project the two have worked on together was Stanley Tong’s The Myth (TV series); which was based off of the film he directed in 2005. According to several sources, approximately  17 minutes of the film were cut by the New Line Cinema edit.

 

 

Whose in this?

 

There’s Jackie Chan, and everyone else. Well, that’s pretty much how it felt anyway. I can remember seeing this film while it was still somewhat relevant and not recognizing a ton of the other players involved. To throw some names out: Anita Mui (famous canto-pop singer, once referred to as the “Madonna of Asia”), Francoise Yip, and Marc Akerstream. So, I’ll ask you again; anyone recognize these names?

 

 

What’s it about?

 

Rumble in the Bronx nearly has the same premise Lionheart does, with the protagonist being dropped into America for the first time. However, Chan moves to the Bronx with his uncle to help manage a corner store. In a way that truly felt spontaneous, Chan (in all his chivalrous glory) is drawn into a personal feud with a local biker gang. Also, in typical Chan “good guy being dealt bad hand” form; the story snowballs and a dangerous criminal organization is thrown into the story. Chan struggles with 3 different problems that are all tied together through his own unintentional hand. The story mixes martial arts with situational comedy and doesn’t concern itself with the details. Once the main plot picks up, the film is essentially a group of action sequences tied together with shots of Chan, his friends, and the biker gang being caught up in this silly action-packed brick shot of a film. The weaker points of the film are too silly to complain about, and the stronger points involve the audience watching Jackie Chan do what he does best. It’s a fun flick, check it out on Netflix instant while your folding clothes.

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FIST-FOOT MARATHON: Lionheart (1990)

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‘Lionheart’ or ‘Wrong Bet’ or ‘A.W.O.L.: Absent Without Leave’

January 11, 1991 (USA Release)

August 1, 1990 (French Release)


Directed By:

Sheldon Lettich although slightly more renowned as a screenwriter, Mr. Lettich has also gone on to direct Double Impact, The Last Patrol, and The Order; two of which also featured Jean-Claude Van Damme in a starring role.

 

 

Who you’ll recognize:

Jean-Claude Van Damme (Bloodsport, Universal Solider, Time Cop), Deborah Rennard (Dallas: The tv series, married to Paul Haggis), Brian Thompson (The Terminator, Cobra, Three Amigos, Joe Dirt).

 

 

Who went A.W.O.L.!?

Growing up, Blood Sport and Jean-Claude Van Damme’s slow motion beating of Bolo Yeung. The guy had a strong, silent screen presence about him that made it hard to root against the guy. Which frankly can hurt an actor’s career, when cast against type. Mr. Van Damme is clearly the ‘hero’ type in action cinema, and even with his character (in Lionheart) being some sort of fugitive; he’s even too heroic to label an ‘anti-hero’. He’s the most caring guy in the film, and also the most badass at the same time. One minute he’s winning $5,000 after kicking the hell out of some schmuck fighter; and the next he’s using the money to buy his neice a bike. Okay, he’s not that ‘night and day’, and in fact; the only reason Van Damme’s character is fighting is to provide for the only family he has.

 

Van Damme on the lamb

The movie starts out with JVD (Jean-Claude Van Damme), a French solider, being denied leave to see his brother; whose sustained life threating injuries due to a drug bust going south. Choosing his family over his loyalty to his service; he decides to ditch the army and find a way to Los Angeles to see his brother. Unfortunaetly his brother dies before he makes it there, and JVD is saddled with guilt and regret over the way his brother lived. He also decides to visit his brother’s wife and daughter, but doesn’t recieve a warm welcome. The movie up to this point is about 20-25 minutes in; with JVD meeting a fast talking bookie looking to capitalize on JVD ability to fight. The two of them spend the film trying to earn enough money to be able to find a better way of life. While that central plot point is running, the film later reconnects (about an hour in) the sub-plot of the French army sending to soldiers to capture and return with JVD. The final third of the film plays up JVD’s character rising in the underground fighting circuit and having to face an “essential to this type of story’s plot” goliath-type opponet.

The negative aspects of the film include skecthy editing, shameless stererotypes, and the ending being screwed over by Hollywood. Until the day I die (if I care to argue it), I still say the true ending of this film is with about 5 minutes left. Hollywood on the other hand requires things be wrapped up, and manipulating the true sense of the film into a overdone wash of an ending. Yay, JVD is able to not suffer through a crappy life anymore.

 


The jive turkey with a cult following

I usually use this spot in the film to praise or brutalize someone’s performance or work in the film. I was a little urked by the way Harrison Page’s character was written. I’m not sure if it was intentially or not, but Sheldon Lettich and company managed to embody every time of cliche, stereotype, and imperfection of the black hustler of the 1970s. Mind you, this film came out in 1990. I’m mean they covered all bases; the guy holds a box of chicken while he eats, he has a questionable limp, and he spews loud, obnoxious jive talk. Thumbs down, Mr. Kettich. No.

 

Recommended?

Not a must. Not even for fans of the great, Jean-Claude Van Damme. There is a hilarious groin-punching scene that might be a must see, but it’s somewhere around 30 minutes in; so you’d have to manuever around the Harrison Page character to see it. Godspeed.