On Reel Action, we’ve covered all of the titans. Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Van Damme, Seagal, Snipes, and even Swayze have all starred in films. But we somehow missed out on one of the genre’s unquestioned masters, Jackie Chan! Chan has been a legend in Hong Kong and most of Asia since the 1970s, but it wasn’t until the release of RUMBLE IN THE BRONX that he really broke out in North America. The picture, which was produced in Hong Kong by Golden Harvest, was taken up for North American distribution by New Line Cinema in 1996, who re-scored it, had Chan re-dub his dialogue, and backed it with a multi-million dollar ad campaign. The film was a sleeper hit at the box office, paving the way for Chan’s later breakout in English-language films like Rush Hour.
In North America, the film, directed by Stanley Tong (Supercop), grossed over $30 million, comparable to what Van Damme and Seagal were earning. It’s easy to see why, after this film’s success, New Line and Dimension Films began purchasing all of Chan’s previous films, as the expense of re-editing and marketing them still left large profit margins, allowing Chan to establish himself in the West. It would eventually pay off with full-fledged cinematic stardom in North America and a flurry of American films, with Rumble serving as the catalyst.
I remember seeing this movie in the cinemas and really enjoying it. Years later, as my appreciation for Hong Kong action films grew, I came to prefer the original HK cuts, especially for later releases like The Legend of the Drunken Master, which was a recut of the famous Drunken Master 2. Nonetheless, the editing/dubbing works well here because it is done with taste and Chan is heavily involved. This movie was such a smash that director Tong wound up directing a big-budget Disney flick next, Mr. Magoo!
Do you think Rumble in the Bronx holds up? Let us know below!