There was once a hugely successful martial arts actor known in Asia for his daring, creative stunts. After a dozen hit kung fu films this man finally made his American debut in 1980 with… The Big Brawl, which nobody watched. America wasn’t ready yet. So this man went back to China and made several unmatched, legendary classics until 1985 when America was finally ready for… The Protector, which nobody watched again. So this man went back and made eleven of the greatest martial arts films that will ever be until 1995 when America was finally fucking ready for… Rumble in the Bronx.
Seanbaby: I think Rumble in the Bronx is one of the most perfect films ever made without any qualifications. It never goes more than five seconds without someone doing something amazing or saying something hilarious. Jackie Chan is a master of his craft at the top of his game and every other character is a chemical spill of deranged wardrobe and acting choices fighting to steal the scene. It has more ironic quotable moments than The Room and better action than The Room.
Brockway: Fair warning: If you haven’t seen Rumble in the Bronx already, you are living half a life. It’s the reason coworkers have trouble remembering your name, why everyone you ever liked forgot to call you back, and it will be the reason a self-driving car runs you down as you’re trying to cross the street. You are not entirely recognizable as a human being in this condition. Please watch Rumble in the Bronx immediately.
Another fair warning: This is fucking Rumble in the Bronx week! Now would be an especially good time to pause and watch Rumble in the Bronx, because this whole week is going to rumble you right in the ol’ bronx. This here is a massive three-part article spanning the next few days, the podcast is a multi-installment epic all about dissecting Rumble in the Bronx, and then we wrap things up on Friday with a little break from Rumble in the Bronx called RUMBLE IN THE BRONX.
An even fairer warning: Every single day this week is Teamworking Day! We simply cannot take Jackie Chan alone. But we’re fairly confident we can beat him together! What’s he gonna do? There are two of us and there’s nothing in this room he can use as a weapon! There’s just some old construction equipment, a pair of stilts, and half a bicycle. We’ve got him!
Seanbaby: Let’s stop fucking around and get to the point: Rumble in the Bronx follows the classic 10-Act Jackie Chan film structure (see below), and we set out to find the best moment from each one. Not the best sequences or stunts– that’s not what makes this movie magical. We wanted to rate those treasured moments in between Jackie Chan’s sweet suicide attempts. We tallied our votes with those of six Rumble in the Bronx experts (Eddie Doty, Timmy Leahy, Alan Chang, Evan Trask, Josh S, and Michael Swaim) to create this, the once-and-for-all list of most delightful Rumble in the Bronx things.
Official Rules: Each expert selected one moment from each act, a process we invented called “voting,” but were given one emergency tie for mental safety regulations. They were all made aware of the gravity of this poll and how this would be the most important article ever written. We now present Acts 1-3:
Jackie Chan screenplays have the same subtlety as how he physically communicates “I have recently taken damage to my ass.” The exposition comes at the viewer with as much violence as the fights, and this one is just barely more natural than Jackie turning to camera and saying, “Hi, my name: Jackie Chan and in this film I am a gentle fightmaster along with Billy Tung, who play my uncle Bill! We shopkeepers in ‘The Bronx’ and big crimes are about to happen. Danny is in wheelchair but has legs for his heart! Keep an eye out for our magic friend Loo-Kee who will hiding somewhere in the background! Okay, let’s do a action movie! It’s exterior day time!“
In a dominating victory, this Act-1 moment received five votes out of a possible 8:
There was never any contest. Jackie Chan is working his dead father’s kung fu dummy and the neighbor boy Danny rolls in, popping a wheelchair wheelie, to scream, “GOOD MOVES. YOU’RE NUMBER ONE!” It’s fucking stupid every movie doesn’t open like this.
Brockway: This must be the winner, because every Jackie Chan movie is a thumbs up. They are the very embodiment of the thumbs up gesture. This one was an instructional win. It simply had to be our first winner, or the dumb among us would spend the entire movie wondering which way to point our thumbs (reminder: up).
Seanbaby: A competing moment scoring two votes was the one where Jackie Chan hands his new friend Danny a Sega Game Gear with no cartridge in it and Uncle Bill’s kneejerk reaction is this:
And receiving only one vote is when Jackie meets Uncle Bill’s fiancé who was clearly given the direction “Jackée, but much, much, much bigger.” She grabs him, liplessly mouth attacks his face, and a sass demon deep within her moans…
Brockway: I need you to prepare yourselves now. Seanbaby does an impression of this moment on the podcast, even though I begged him not to, and it almost blew out my headphones. I’m still picking sass out of my ear canals.
Seanbaby: In Act-2 we meet the multicultural gang with Christmas-decorated dune buggies and dirtbikes! This Bronx street gang, filmed on location in Toronto, looks like a “Celebrate Diversity” poster at a Boise, Idaho community college. And they don’t give a fuck. They have a dirtbike race over parked cars in the middle of the night! The stakes are only $1000 and THAT’S DOUBLE the normal amount!
When they have their first fight, Jackie Chan immediately and without effort just beats the ass off of these fuckers. Like nobody comes close to landing a shot. He takes more damage from this camel toe:
Brockway: This outfit. This fucking outfit. At the best of times Jackie Chan dresses like a 1980s gum commercial where everyone is skiing. But to know that, beneath it all, he’s wearing one-piece underwear? That he’s sporting a pastel blue tank-top that segues into hotpants with an extra-long dickflap that starts at his belly button? It’s like the whole world makes a kind of sense I never knew it didn’t until just now.
Seanbaby: Now that you’re caught up with the plot, this gang is ridiculous and no match for Jackie Chan, let’s talk about the best moments. In first place (with 3 votes) was when a customer who knew Jackie’s name ran up to scream this, then never appeared again in the movie:
Jackie’s response to this surprise dress rehearsal of a Marlon Wayans Han Solo parody is simply, “THAT’S CHINESE, KUNG FU” because the dialog in this film is perfect. Speaking of perfect dialog, the second place line also received three votes but is objectively not as good as OH-KEE-YUNG-THAT-WAS-ALRIGHT Guy so I broke the tie with my flawless judgement. It’s delivered after Anita Mui catches Angelo stealing juice, and I don’t mean a series of events escalate to it– I mean he gets caught shoplifting and instantly shrieks this:
Tied for third place are the moments we’ll call “Dirtbike Racer Girl Cheers For Herself” …
… and “Jackie Chan Clearly Explains the Situation.”
Brockway: You see what I mean? That background could dissolve to white and Jackie Chan could ski away from this confrontation and you wouldn’t bat an eye, so long as he popped some Doublemint first.
Seanbaby: Finally, here’s a personal favorite that earned zero votes: “Assertive Cholo Interrupts Ass Kicking.”
Seanbaby: The gang is out for revenge and now they have a barbarian! And an Apache warrior! And they bring their girlfriends to daring broad daylight street ambushes!
They actually hatch a pretty clever scheme to use Jackie’s heroism against him and trap him in an alley so they can pad baseball bats and shoot glass bottles at him. They must practice this shit all the time because the command for it is just “Rock and Roll!” and each of them flawlessly executes their part. And all the winning moments come from this particular scene.
First, with four votes, is when Angelo points his gun at Tony, the gang leader. Marc Akerstream, the stuntman playing Tony, doesn’t get a lot of speaking roles so given this opportunity, he brought seven films worth of acting choices to this six word response.
Brockway: You can actually see him wrestling the words out of his mouth. Every syllable put his tongue in a headlock on the way out and refused to budge, like trying to get a cat in the bath.
Seanbaby: The second place moment is right afterwards when the gang falls apart and each of them leaves Jackie Chan’s execution for different personal reasons. Every actor delivers their line with the timing of a cruise ship macarena contest in such a perfectly accidentally hilarious mess.
Nancy: “You asshole.”
Nancy’s Boyfriend: “Nancy!?”
Lisa: “You loser!”
Barbarian: “Stacey, wait!”
Brockway: Hot pink Raised Fists and Celtic knot khakis. That’s all. That’s all I have to say today. Let’s take a break to consider this, and meet to discuss tomorrow.