Oh how I miss those halcyon days of Jackie Chan films of yore. Recent attempts, those since Chan appears to have come out of action movie retirement, haven’t come close to the standard we used to see.
In an attempt to rectify that situation, Chan returns to our screens with Bleeding Steel. This time round he’s directed by Leo Zhang (Chrysanthemum To The Beast), who also wrote alongside Siwei Cui (Love In Cosmo, Silver Medallist) and Erica Xia-Hou.
Chan must protect his daughter, Nan Ou-Yang (Secret Fruit, Beautiful Accident), who doesn’t know she’s his daughter, from the evil clutches of Callan Mulvey (Batman V Superman, Captain America: The Winter Soldier).
Mulvey is an experiment gone wrong. Experimented on by Dr. James, Kim Gyngell (Back In Very Small Business (TV), Sunshine (TV)), who attempted to make him an undefeatable soldier by replacing his heart with a mechanical one and giving him regeneration abilities.
Chan though, manages to wound Mulvey and forces him to spend the next few years in a sterile environment onboard his space ship. Mulvey sends out his motorcycle-gear clad henchman, led by Tess Haubrich (Alien: Covenant, Wolf Creek (TV)), to track down Chan’s daughter.
The reason for this is that, just before he dies, Dr. James helped Ou-Yang overcome her leukaemia by giving her a mechanical heart and special regeneration abilities too. He hides his research inside her and it’s this that Mulvey wants.
Mulvey is also being hunted by Show Lo (Journey To The West, The Mermaid), a young hacker who goes by the name of Leeson who wants revenge for something Mulvey did to his parents. Whilst Chan is helped by his stalwart lieutenant Susan, Erica Xia-Hou.
If, after having read that, you’re a bit “huh?”, I’d have to say exactly. The plot of Bleeding Steel is completely preposterous, even for a sci-fi film, and is so full of plot-holes that you could drive a planet through, if indeed you could drive planets.
No-one questions why Mulvey has a space-ship, he’s the only one that does, for example. No-one also seems to question why Haubrich walks round dressed like Ursa from Superman, or why her henchmen are dressed in black motorcycle gear, clearly carrying weapons.
This is all just normal in the world of Bleeding Steel, as is a Dr, under police protection, being allowed to carry out some crazy, experimental procedure on the dying daughter of a police lieutenant. Despite them having him in police protection for presumably exactly that!
Whilst Chan does show some action moves, which at 63 are still impressive, they are not much to write home about given what we’ve seen previously. The opening sequence is a gun-fight in which he gets thrown about a lot but it’s Xia-Hou who shows her action creds.
There is a sequence atop the Sydney Opera House which had so much promise but is let down by a complete lack of action and a cop-out conclusion. None of it is helped by Zhang’s obvious excitement at being able to film one of the biggest movie stars in the world standing atop the Sydney Opera House. Which he does. A lot.
Whilst Chan continues to find his way in the new movie landscape he finds himself in at 63 years old, you have to admire the fact that he doesn’t simply rest on his laurels. From comedic attempts such as Kung Fu Yoga, to serious roles in The Foreigner and Karate Kid, he is at least attempting to find his feet.
Sadly though, much as when Chan was first starting his career and everyone placed him in movies that were Bruce Lee like, everyone now is attempting to put him in movies for which he created the genre in the first place. The approach didn’t work then and, as a huge fan it pains me to say it, it’s not working now.