film 2 of 5

Rumble in the Bronx

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jul 28, 2015

Let me confess to missing the point here. And to being obtuse. And a kill-joy. These things are all true, and none of them are anything to be proud of. My poor kids!

Still, being a fuddy-duddy does have its benefits. Like keeping me from being besmirched by the dubious charms of this cross-over effort. There’s a brief and amazing bit at the beginning in which Jackie is doing a little martial arts exercise with this cool apparatus, the name of which I don’t even know. (See? Acknowledged! This film/films like this are made for aficionados, and not for dumb dabblers like me.) He starts slowly, then increases the pace, and the pace of the film increases accordingly. In this little sequence we have all of the athleticism and grace, all the fighting/dancing that this genre offers, and maybe more than occasionally delivers.

But then, plot, and counter-plot, and characterization, and lots of dumb, dubious, badly dubbed vulgarity. (Yes! I’m also a prude, sometimes, and that can be pretty insufferable. Let me excuse/explain myself by saying that I was watching this with a few of my youngsters. As my friend and colleague Sharon Swenson has been known to say, we’re for ranchy, but not raunchy!) That’s Hong Kong cinema for you? Fair enough, and you’ll want to consult insiders for a more authoritative view. And in fact, in a number of cases, I’m pretty sure that I get it, and can speak to it. But Rumble in the Bronx is also dumb in a Hollywood sense. In this case two wrongs just add up to moronic.

And yet, look at this genial star emerging more or less unscathed! Hated the film. Can’t help liking him.