The late Brandon Lee stars in his penultimate film that packs as much heart as it does punches, with a solid story and performances from the cast and well-choreographed, racy fight-scenes that deserve appreciation and a revisit!
Brandon Lee is an actor first and martial artist second with equal amounts of talent in both. As an actor Lee conveys depth and emotion coupled with snarky charm and charisma. His martial arts skills, are worthy of his heritage and executed with precision and skill.
Amiable support comes from Powers Boothe as grizzled Chicago cop Mace Ryan who uses Lo to bring down a triad drug lord. Excellent in their respective villainous turns are Nick Mancuso as Antonio Serrano hamming up his stereotypic Sicilian mob boss with tongue in cheek, and Tzi Ma delightfully evil as Triad head Kinman Tau, arch nemesis to Ryan’s crusader cop.
Jake Lo (Lee) an art student still haunted by the memories of his father’s death at Tiananmen Square finds his life turned upside down after witnessing the murder of a Triad hitman at the hands of Mafia boss Serrano. Jake’s life becomes a fight for survival as he has to battle the mafia trying to kill him, the FBI who want him as a witness and the Chicago police who need him to bring down a Triad drug lord.
The viewers’ appetite is whetted by Tzi Ma in a three way Bo staff battle. Ma is swift and balletic showing off how the staff should be wielded. Sadly this is the only chance he gets to shine and where the action is concerned, the film’s only flaw.
Expectations are plenty for the martial prowess of Bruce Lee’s son and this doesn’t disappoint. Lee’s athleticism and agility make his seamless blend of Muy Thai and Jeet Kune Do a joy to watch, and with Lee at just over six feet tall his kicks extended to almost full length look especially impressive. Whether battling FBI agents, Mafioso heavies (in one scene using two-by-fours as Kali sticks) or Triad henchmen, Lee exudes energy and urgent determination, with every punch and kick executed with speed and grace.
Much of the film’s first half see’s Lee adopt his father’s boxing style, dancing around his adversaries before executing bone crunching punches and kicks with gusto. For the climactic battle Lee incorporates Jackie Chan’s style, an impressive combination of frenetic fights interspersed with acrobatic running and leaps. Recognisable scenes and moves from Police Story and Dragons Forever are used as Lee battles a bevy of oriental heavies. Fans will also recognise the familiar faces of James Lew, and Al Leong with Lee engaging Leong in a Wing Chung battle for the finale.
Rapid Fire is a solid cop thriller with a good story, solid characters and high production values for a low key actioner. However it is the action that takes centre stage with some well-choreographed martial arts executed perfectly adding to the excitement of the story. Lee would never have emulated his father, but his acting talent and charm coupled with tremendous martial ability would have made him one the genre’s most bankable stars.
- Spot the subtle references to the late Bruce Lee including Brandon Lee disguised as a humble worker to infiltrate the villains layer (Fist of Fury).
- Dwight H Little’s second foray into Martial arts cinema having directed Steven Seagal in Marked For Death.
- John Saxon was considered for the role of Mace Ryan Saxon starred opposite Bruce Lee in Enter The Dragon.