Rapid Fire (1992)

Posted in Reviews by - March 21, 2021
Rapid Fire (1992)

An exciting action vehicle for Brandon Lee, son of Bruce Lee, who is promoted to leading man status after his role as Dolph Lundgren‘s sidekick in Showdown in Little Tokyo. Lee shows great poise and presence as a lithe kung fu fighter, although he clearly has more substantial chops as an actor, bringing an engaged, boyish masculinity to the somewhat two-dimensional role of Jake Lo, an arty biker dude whose parents were killed during the Tiananmen Square protests. Back in the USA, Jake witnesses a gangland shooting by the Sicilian mafioso, Serrano (Nick Mancuso, delightfully devilish), a red-wine-swilling cliched crook in cahoots with bent Feds who summarily sends their cronies after him. Running out of people to trust, the young Jake is soon taken into the protective custody of grizzled yet honourable cop, Mace Ryan (Powers Boothe), who becomes something of a father figure; albeit one who seems OK about sending his boy into a prison full of violent drug-dealing triads in order to crack the case. Fight choreographer Jeff Imada – one of Brandon’s martial arts instructors – plays to Lee’s athletic strengths and he looks great in the action scenes, only occasionally reverting to sly references to his father; a thumbing of the nose, flickers of his father’s choreography, and an undercover sequence featuring some cat-like covert reconnaissance work which plays like a nod to Enter the Dragon. Instead, the action mostly steals from big Hong Kong movies of the era, particularly stunt sequences from Police Story. An extended fight towards the end with veteran Hollywood stuntman Al Leong is the best of the lot. Despite the long shadow of his father, Brandon successfully overcomes this burden to instil the film with his own sense of identity, making his untimely passing a year later even more poignant. What could have been.

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Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a keyboard in London, UK.

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