Film Review: Rumble in the Bronx (dir by Stanley Tong)

First released in 1995, Rumble in the Bronx is known for two things.

First off, it’s the film that finally made Jackie Chan a star in America.  Chan had been an international star for two decades before starring in this film but he had initially struggled to break into the American film industry.  Before Rumble in the Bronx, no one in Hollywood was quite sure what to do with an actor who was both skilled at martial arts and who also had perfect comedic timing.  Indeed, the very title of  Rumble in the Bronx seems to designed to make Americans feel comfortable with the film.  Jackie Chan may have been from Hong Kong and the film itself may have been dubbed and it may have been released internationally before New Line got around to releasing it in the States but it was a film about the Bronx!  And what’s more American than the Bronx?

Except, of course, Rumble in the Bronx wasn’t filmed in the Bronx.  The other thing for which this film is remembered was that it may have taken place in the Bronx but it was filmed in Vancouver.  From the minute the audience sees Jackie walking through this film’s version of the Bronx, it’s pretty obvious that he’s in Canada.  All of the extras are very polite.  The city streets are surprisingly clean.  Even the graffiti is rather mild in tone.  (Reportedly, the production spray-painted the locations every morning and then cleaned up all the graffiti at night.)  When the film shows us its version of an NYPD stationhouse, the building is so neat and clean that it seems like it should be in a Canadian tourism brochure.  New York has never looked more inviting than when it was played by Vancouver.

Of course, the main giveaway that this film was shot in Canada was that there are mountains in the background.  Majestic mountain ranges are one of the few things that you cannot find in New York City.  When the bad guys drive someone out of the city so that they can threaten him, they end up in front of an absolutely gorgeous mountain stream.  Seriously, I’m sure I’m not the only person who wanted to travel to Canada after watching Rumble in the Bronx.

But, hey …. it’s a Jackie Chan movie!  If you can’t suspend your disbelief while watching a Jackie Chan movie then when can you suspend it?  The film’s plot is not terribly complex.  Jackie plays a Hong Kong cop who comes to New York for his uncle’s wedding.  While his uncle is on his honeymoon, Jackie looks over his uncle’s store and protects it from the local gang.  Jackie also befriends Nancy (Francoise Yip) and her wheelchair-bound brother, Danny (Morgan Lam).  Both Nancy and Danny need someone to look out for them and to encourage both of them to reject the seedier temptations of the Bronx.  They also need Jackie to protect them from the golf-loving crime lord, White Tiger (Kris Lord).

The plot is mostly an excuse for a series of increasingly elaborate fights and stunts.  As always, it’s fun to not only watch Jackie Chan in action but to also try to spot all the moments in which he nearly killed himself performing his own stunts.  Rumble in the Bronx is the film in which Jackie Chan broke his ankle while jumping onto a hoverboat.  One can actually see the ankle bending at an extremely awkward angle.  I actually covered my eyes when I realized what was happening because it was obviously very painful.  If anyone had any doubt of how painful it was, Jackie included footage of him howling in pain during the end credits.  That said, as painful as it was to watch Jackie’s ankle snap, it doesn’t change the fact that this film’s finale actually involves a hovercraft!  Even without Jackie’s stunts, the action in this film’s finale would be enjoyably and shamelessly over the top.  But knowing that Jackie was out there risking his life to make the film makes it all the more enjoyable.  And it also helps that Jackie Chan is a legitimately good actor, one who gets a lot of laughs out of the fact that the characters that he plays are often as shocked by some of the things that he does (and survives) as the audience is.

Myself and a few others watched Rumble in the Bronx on Friday as a part of our weekly #FridayNightFlix get-together.  We had a blast.  Another film that we recently watched for #FridayNightFlix, Escape From The Bronx, is famous for its line of “It is time to leave the Bronx”  but you know what?  Why would anyone ever want to leave beautiful Vancouver?

One response to “Film Review: Rumble in the Bronx (dir by Stanley Tong)

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 5/8/23 — 5/14/23 | Through the Shattered Lens

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.