Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rapid Fire (1992)

Brandon Lee plays Jake Lo, a pissed off art student studying in L.A. The source of his anger? He watched his father get flattened by a tank in Tiananmen Square. The last thing he wants to talk about is what happened to his dad that night, so when he is asked by a fellow student to attend a Tiananmen benefit dinner to share his story and raise awareness of what happened there, he declines. It seems that all he wants to do is draw and maybe find a nice girl and it looks like things are going his way when the nude model from his drawing class asks him out on a date. When he goes to meet her that night, he realizes that this girl tricked him and he's actually at the Tiananmen benefit. What a bitch.

At the benefit Jake witnesses a murder and starts his long series of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. If ever there were a film genre "wrong place, wrong time" this movie would be the poster child. They even say it a few times. Anyway, the murder is committed by one of our two major villains, Tony Serrano (played by Nick Mancuso who plays a dirty DEA agent in Today You Die. Tony is an Italian American (they make this clear by showing him eating pasta constantly and saying things like "bada bing") The murder starts a war between him and his former friend Tommy, an Asian drug lord who refuses to give Tony a bigger cut of his heroin business.  Now Tony wants the witness, Jake, dead and the Feds want to bring Jake to Chicago, Tony's home base,  to help take Tony down.

 When I bought this movie, I had never seen it, but was wishing for a non stop action ride. Wish granted. The action is easy to come by and really well done. Brandon Lee is excellent in the fight scenes and not too bad when required to act. I especially like his relationship with ultra good cop Mace Ryan, played by Powers Boothe. Boothe delivers every line as if he were a 1930's hard boiled detective, but he makes it work. He's as tough as nails, but has a heart of gold and is more worried about getting the job done than his own health.

The film's tag line is "Unarmed And Extremely Dangerous", but this isn't entirely true. There are plenty of instances where Jake has either a gun or knife or metal rod, but something happens to him every time he uses one of these things. Jake seems to be disgusted by weapons and always throws them away after using them even when he needs them most (this is usually done in slow motion). Perhaps Jake prefers to fight hand-to-hand. We already know he is highly trained in martial arts as we are shown in the the slow motion fighting scene in the opening that has nothing to do with the rest of the movie.

Overall the movie is a lot of fun and the acting is decent all around. The plot isn't anything new, but the film makers at least do a decent job of making it somewhat logical, unlike most action movies I've watched recently. It has its cheesy moments and over the top scenes, but for me, those are things that make these kinds of movies so entertaining.

It's worth mentioning that this film, like Death Warrant (see Mark's review from 1/4/10) also features Al Leong. I never knew his name until Mark mentioned it, but I recognized him as that guy that was in some movie, or was it some other movie? Turns out he's both "some movie" and "some other movie" and about 100 others.
Included on the DVD is a short promo shot by Fox during the making of this movie that starts out introducing Brandon Lee as "The Action Hero of the 90's". Unfortunately Lee died soon after this during the making of "The Crow", but had he lived, he would definitely have been at least as big as Van Damme or Seagal and I would most likely be collecting his Direct to Video releases.

Body Count: 34

People who have been on "Lost": 2
Raymond J. Barry who played Ray Shephard (Jack's uncle) and  Francois Chau, who plays Dr. Pierre Chang aka Dr. Marvin Candle (Miles' dad)

References to Bruce Lee: 1
Boothe says to Lee "Why don't you take those Fists of Fury outside?"

-By Ben Stumpf

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