Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

To think I had forgotten how awesome ‘Rapid Fire’ was. I was over at the blog reminiscing about legendary Asian Thug Al Leong and you can’t mention Al Leong without mentioning ‘Rapid Fire’. Since ‘Rapid Fire’ is in one my stacks of still shrink-wrapped classic DVD’s, let’s revisit this movie from 1992 and attempt to remember why I dropped down three of my hard earned dollars at the Big Lots DVD bin to purchase this movie. ‘Rapid Fire’ is almost the prototype of the 90’s Action Movie. It’s stupid beyond belief, it has a dynamic, super athletic hero who hadn’t learned how to act yet, it had a cast of veteran actors who seemed to overact to compensate for Brandon Lee’s inability to act, it had Al Leong in it and it was non-stop, balls to the wall action from almost start to finish. Oh how we miss the days.

Brandon Lee is Jake Lo who I think they might’ve mentioned in one line in this movie something about Jake being a Special Ops, CIA, Secret Service or something retired badass or something. It was real brief but I guess they had to explain his acquisition of Super Skills some kind of way and I guess simply being Asian wasn’t going to cut it. Jake is tortured because his old man got run over by a tank in Tienanmen Square a few years back and Jake wants answers! Until then he will mind his own business as an art student at the Local U painting nude models. Since we’re on the subject of nude models, this is where the trouble starts. You see this nude model blinded Jake’s common senses with her titties and invited him on a date, but it wasn’t a date, it was instead a Free China Rally thrown by the completely obnoxious Chinese radical living safely in America Paul Yang (Dustin Nguyen). He used his girlfriend, the nude model, to trick Jake into to coming to this thing to say a few words when all Jake wanted was a little ass. How unjust is that?

That’s why when crazed mobster Antonio Serrano (Nick Mancuso) started shooting up the joint to take over the drug business of fake Chinese businessman Carl Chang (Michael Paul Chan), we didn’t mind folks getting shot so much. Anyway Jake saw Antonio shoot Carl and now Antonio wants Jake’s head on a platter. Jake has to go into witness protection under the watchful eye of FBI agent Frank Steward (Raymond J. Berry) who is as filthy as three day-old underwear but fortunately for Jake hard boiled Chicago cop Mace Ryan (Powers Boothe) is keeping an eye on things and rescues Jake. More or less.

You see, Mace has been trying to bring down brutal Chinese drug lord Kinman Tau (Tzi Ma) for ten years. Don’t forget those ten years because Mace will keep reminding you about it over and over again, and now he thinks Jake can help him do this… and Mace has a plan. Just so you know this is the worst plan ever. Everybody in this movie, except for Mace, seems to acknowledge that it’s the worst plan ever. Thus we have a movie that is self-aware that it is stupid and that’s a rare and precious thing. Oh, and Jake will befriend a lady cop (Kate Hodge) for no other reason than we will get a brief flash of titty, and Jake will have to battle the quiet Asian Thug as played by Al Leong. Watch stuff blow up and then watch some credits.

Brandon Lee’s tragic death in 1993 was sad for the obvious reason of a young man’s life unnecessarily snuffed out far before his time, but also because we wouldn’t see anymore mindless action flicks from the young man such as ‘Rapid Fire’. ‘Showdown in Little Tokyo’ was pretty mindless, also possessed in a still shrink wrapped DVD, but this one was completely mindless from start to finish. The film opens with Mancuso’s character, with one dude backing him up, making a trip all the way to China to threaten Tzi Ma’s character into turning his heroin business over to him. I don’t think any mobster would actually do that, and if he did do that, I don’t think said mobster would leave China alive. And as a side note, if you don’t want witnesses around when you kill somebody, then don’t kill them at a crowded dinner party. Also, sending unarmed civilians into the den of a mobster who wants to kill this civilian as a plan to bringing down another mobster in China… seems like a crap plan to me. Good thing this unarmed civilian knows Kung Fu. In this crap plan about fifteen mobsters and a dozen cops all got killed, yet Mace Ryan still has a job. Good thing because he has a better plan now. Send this same unarmed civilian, with no backup, into the den of the Chinese mobster which of course goes all to hell. Second worst plan ever. The cool thing about this plan is at the point when Tzi Ma’s character takes off running. He knows the cops have no backup, he has the small army with guns on his side, Al Leong has his back plus he’s a kung fu master himself, but yet when he sees Jake he takes off running like a sissy.

At no point does this movie ever try to make sense, but does it really need to? No it does not. Because while Brandon Lee might not have been a great actor back then, the boy sure could put on a show. While it’s hard to ignore the overall stupidity of ‘Rapid Fire’, rest assured that some explosive action sequence, or Powers Boothe or Nick Mancuso over-acting, is never far behind and this is why we liked this movie back in ’92 and love it today.

Brandon is no longer with us, but he lives on in perpetuity in ‘Rapid Fire’. And I guess that ‘Crow’ movie as well but we don’t care about that one.

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