Thursday, March 27, 2008

Rapid Fire

The Action Mutant…
has never seen Laser Mission…how odd.

Rapid Fire

review by Joe Burrows

I won’t go on the predictable Brandon Lee obituary route yet. Besides, I haven’t reviewed The Crow yet. THAT would be the predictable route. All I’ll say is that it’s a shame that several more of his projects were never made to be reviewed here.

The Plot, as it was:
Brandon plays Jake Lo, an art student trying get past the memories of his dad being killed at the Tienanmen Square massacre. He gets invited to a posh party, only to accidentally see mob boss Tony Serrano (Nick Mancuso) commit a murder. Caught in a drug war between Serrano and crime lord Tau (Tzi Ma), the only ones Jake can trust are grizzled cop Mace Ryan (Powers Boothe) and his inquisitive partner Karla (Kate Hodge) as they have been trying to capture both drug lords for years.

Don’t shoot me…I’m only the reviewer!:
Much like his legendary father Bruce, Brandon Lee was rarely (if ever) given the proper venue to showcase his martial artistry. Unfortunately, Rapid Fire is probably to closest he got to do so in his very short career. As a film, it’s nothing that hasn’t been seen before, right down to the familiar dialogue and tired “drug” plot (reminds me of a comment Roger Ebert once made, saying something to the effect that there must be more interesting things to smuggle than drugs). It’s one of those tired premises that makes you think you must have already seen this film when you haven’t, only you have…just with different actors. The attempt to add some social conscience to the film at the beginning is just that; an attempt. Nonetheless, Lee manages to make it credible with his earnestness and likable nature. For the moments he gets to display hand-to-hand combat, Lee injects Fire with some life and convinces you this would be worth watching if there were a few more moments like them. Boothe has fun as the old salt of a cop who lends credibility to the proceedings and Mancuso steals the scenes he’s in as the showy mob boss. If only they were in a better film…

Character/Supporting Actor Sighting!:
- Richard Schiff (The West Wing) is the art teacher at the college.

Body Count/Violence: 35. Everyone gets a bit of everything here, as Lee proves his boyish looks don’t mean he is any less vicious. Aside from the requisite explosions and gunplay, Lee dispatches villains by breaking necks and arms, stabbing with kitchen utensils, electrocution, causing them to be run over by trains and other various weapons. In a cool nod, Lee (who was a Jackie Chan fan) incorporates some of his sequences into the mix (most notably those involving a rolling shirt hanger and Lee sliding underneath an end table and kicking it at someone). There’s also action mainstay Al Leong, who takes out at least one character with ninja stars.

Sexuality/Nudity: Lee and Hodge have a sex scene where his ass and her breasts are visible in quick cuts. Unfortunately, the song playing during the scene is called “I Can’t Find my Way”, an irony that was pointed out in a review by Leonard Maltin of all people! That’s both sad and frightening. There’s also quick nudity from a female nude model in the art class (though it’s mostly a long shot).

Language/Dialogue: Fairly strong, with Boothe having ownership to most of it.

How bad was it?:
Most critics agree that this was a “by the numbers” vehicle that didn’t do much for Lee’s career. Some did take the approach that Lee strengthened the proceedings with his presence but those were few and far in between.

Did it make the studio’s day?:
Rapid Fire opened for 20th Century Fox on 8/21/92 and finished 3rd, behind Unforgiven and Single White Female. It slowly dropped from there, finally pulling in $14.4 million by the end of its run. Though the budget was never made known, the studio must have been pleased by the results, as talks of a sequel with Lee starring were in the works before his death.

Film: **1/2/*****
Entertainment value: ***1/2/*****

Copyright 2007 The Action Mutant.

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