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Yet it's easier to forgive Jackie's movies for his storytelling transgressions than similar, bigger-budget, and more pompous action flicks produced in Hollywood. Largely that's because Rumble in the Bronx isn't some prepackaged, THX-recorded, Industrial Light and Magic-style extravaganza, but a hands-on chop-socky movie. The action scenes are peppered throughout the film like sprints in a marathon, giving you a burst of adrenaline and then drawing back to give you a breather.
Chan is the Rube Goldberg of action sequences, staging a series of perfectly choreographed fight ballets full of wit, elan, and dash. His character--from film to film, it's always a variation of the same winsome, goofy athlete who never has time to win over a girl--has MacGyver's sense of resourcefulness, mixed with Curly Howard's comic style. As he waddles like an oversized duck from one danger to the next, Jackie's our tour guide of life-threatening excitement, an Asian Robin Leach inviting us to enter the "Lifestyles of the Dumb and Daring." We share in his jeopardy vicariously, and we share his enthusiasm--possibly the most elusive and undervalued of all action-hero qualities. Perhaps that's why Jackie Chan hasn't caught on here--he seems to be enjoying himself too much.
Rumble in the Bronx, like Chan himself and the Hong Kong style of filmmaking, is paradoxically critic-friendly and virtually critic-proof, a sui generis exercise in audience-friendly entertainment. You'll either enjoy it or you won't. I don't know which. I don't care. I just hope Jackie Chan makes it through his next picture, and lives to keep making more.
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