Little Box of Horrors: Bleeding Steel
Bleeding Steel is a nostalgia tour through Jackie Chan’s filmography. Unfortunately the bus doesn’t always stop at the scenic destinations.
Running In the Red
Sorry, it’s been awhile. I had the perfect idea for a themed selection: I was in the Laconia, NH area, home to a famous bike week. Why not pick a biker flick? Well, I’ll tell you why: RedBox doesn’t have any. For real; nothing. The only movies that even had a bike on the cover were definitely not about bikes.
Like a backwater speed-trap, RedBox killed my momentum. Eventually I decided on some comfort food: Jackie Chan had a new movie out. So, without further ado…
Oh wait. Gotta stick to the traditions. So I guess a little ado.
- Jurassic World (2015): Well, it’s got a bike on the box cover. It also has already been covered. Vroom… fail.
- Future World (2018): HAHAHA… no. Not again, James Franco, not again.
- Bleeding Steel (2017): Well, it’s not the greatest name for a movie we’ve ever seen from Jackie Chan, but I guess it could have been worse. Like “Cursing Iron”, or “Fucking Tungsten”.
Alright, enough ado. Let’s ado this!
Bleeding Steel (2017)
Special Agent Lin Dong (Jackie Chan) is caught in a terrible dilemma: visit his ailing child one last time, or respond to a call to safeguard a VIP transport. When that VIP turns out to be a geneticist with a secret that may save his daughter, things get even more complicated. Especially when Dr. James’ first creation, “The Bioroid” comes calling for the research that created him.
Egg Shen’s Tour Bus* of Chinese Stars
*Bus, for Tourists
Bleeding Steel feels like a whirlwind tour through Jackie Chan’s filmography. It’s not surprising; Jackie was executive producer on the film. This leads to some of the film’s greatest hits, as well as its most embarrassing misses.
On the plus column, this film would feel right at home in Jackie’s early 90’s heyday. The sets are bright and colorful, the stunts are varied and over the top (Jackie at 64 is still the hardest working man in the industry), and the film grounds everything in human drama. Liam Neeson and Jackie Chan are apparently locked in a death match for Father of the Decade honors.
All of this leads to the film feeling younger than Jackie’s greying hair would have you believe. If you wanted an irony free trip back to a different era of film-making, Bleeding Steel has your ticket.
You are not Brought Upon this World to “Get It”!
There are glaring negatives, however. The editing is a mess. While Bleeding Steel avoids feeling like 3 separate movies spliced together (an unfortunate hallmark of early Chan films), it works through the plot like Family Circus’ Jeffy making his way home. Several times I had to stop the film and explain to someone else what was going on. Or at least what I thought was going on. The film seems completely unsure of when to payoff plot secrets, so much so that it ends up being an extremely opaque affair.
…I Know, There’s a Problem with Your Face.
The other aspect of Bleeding Steel that was an unwelcome blast from the past was the unnecessary shoehorning of comedy into the drama. Show Lo plays a young thief named Leeson that was incredibly interesting… until he just became the human punchline. Jackie has been very busy trying to cultivate the future of Chinese cinema. If Erica Xia-Hou is Jackie’s wushu protégé (she’s awesome), Show Lo is heir apparent to the funny face throne.
Normally, I’m perfectly fine with Jackie Chan’s style of humor. But when it keeps rearing its head in a film that already has pacing and plot issues, it piles on. Bleeding Steel clocks in at under 2 hours, but I bet they could have made a svelte fighter by trimming more fat. And I don’t mean Chow Yun.
We Take What We Want and Leave the Rest.
Bleeding Steel isn’t awful, it’s just not A+ Jackie Chan. That being said, we are probably getting towards the end of the line with our funny, furious footed friend, and I was happy enough spending time watching Chan be Chan. If you like Jackie Chan’s filmography, this will feel like some forgotten movie that you missed back in the day. If that isn’t what you are signing on for, the plot will probably leave you confused and cold around the half-way mark.
So when the movie gets long in the tooth, the plot points are raining down like poison arrows from the sky, and the 9 PM return time is fast approaching, do what ol’ Jack Burton would: speed on down to the nearest RedBox (don’t worry, it’s all in the reflexes, anyway), return Bleeding Steel, and when they ask if you paid your rental dues for it.. tell ’em the check’s in the mail.