1992 Directed by Dwight H. Little. Starring Brandon Lee, Powers Boothe, Nick Mancuso, Kate Hodge.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Aug. 28, 1992
Oh my, but is there ever a mess of broken glass in this movie. A more apt title would be Rapid Shatter. Yet, as long as you don't have to sweep up, I guess it's okay. Rapid Fire is full of mindless, cynical action, elaborately choreographed fight scenes and spontaneous and perpetual mayhem. But you've got to count your blessings because the few times all this commotion subsides, Rapid Fire attempts to advance a plot about Tienanmen Square, heroin smuggling, surrogate fatherhood, Mafia chieftains, loyalty and self-reliance. And to do that requires dialogue and that's more than this script can provide. It's not that these actors aren't up to the task either. Promoted on the strength of starring Bruce Lee's son, Brandon, Rapid Fire does itself a disservice with this tactic. Brandon Lee is a pretty good actor in his own right: he's good-looking, has decent line delivery, is physically coordinated and has a certain tough and cynical screen presence. He's even okay in the martial arts department. But to have to live up to deceased father Bruce's singular achievements in the martial arts film genre is a task I wouldn't wish on any son. The thing about Bruce Lee was that he had no serious competition; he was in a swift, stylish league of his own. To set his son up for certain failure in order to make a few bucks off a hungry and gullible movie-going audience is crass commercialism. That Brandon Lee pulls this feat off with reasonable grace is, indeed, a testament to his abilities. But if he's not allowed to follow his own path in the future, he'll forever remain a pretender to the throne. Powers Boothe gives a solid, if routine, performance in an unfleshed-out role as a grizzled, single-track cop who's been ten years after his nemesis and all else be damned. We know that Boothe is capable of much better but, considering this script, we're relieved that he didn't do much worse. There's some real dopey, clichéd stuff written for the Mafioso thugs, a requisite lovemaking scene (it's amazing how a body can fend of several rooms full of attackers all day long and still have the stamina -- and interest -- to make love all night long) and, of course, the topical Tienanmen Square angle. Plot here is accorded a token nod, damning it as a necessary, though uninteresting, element in a proper action movie.