Special Forces agent Lin Dong (Jackie Chan) becomes embroiled in a high-tech conspiracy as he attempts to protect a crucial witness. Just as he gets closer to discovering the truth, Lin Dong is lucky to escape with his life when he is pursued by a mysterious and heavily-armed militia. The secret remains buried until the publication of an epic sci-fi novel, packed with disturbing parallels to the past events, forcing the conspiracy back to the surface.
I was apprehensive going into this film. Action legend, Jackie Chan, is loved pretty much everywhere (except in Taiwan due to his political stances, didn't know that, did you?) and this is his first foray into what can only be described as pure sci-fi. Sure, The Tuxedo and Who am I both had sci-fi elements, but this is most definitely a change of pace for the aging action hero. This film is more in the vein of Bladerunner, The Fifth Element, and Ghost in the Shell, (but not quite as futuristic) a genre with very a very demanding, nerdy, and critical fanbase.
Chan is no stranger to cheesy, big-budget, family-focussed action films — and while this definitely falls into the aggregate of his repertoire, it is most definitely something of an outlier. Chan's films generally rely on his fantastic stunts, well-coordinated action sequences, light-hearted comedy and a splash of his own personal pizzazz.
The film openings with a bang, jumping right into a hail of gunfire and bloodshed, introducing us to our main protagonist, Lin Dong (played by Jackie Chan, who else?) and our primary antagonist; Andre (Callan Mulvey). Mulvey's character resembles a youthful Darth Vader sans helmet — you know, the one that kills the Emperor. In typical sci-fi fashion, he's absolutely OP and evil AF. I'm going to do my best to avoid spoilers, so suffice it to say that the initial battle ends well for no one.
The film then jumps a good decade and a bit into the future, where light is shed on the origins of our big bad and his team of high-tech cronies, as well as the fate of Dong and the conspiracy he now finds himself in the center of. The plot is easy enough to follow, with the emphasis more on the action, the colourful characters, and the sub-plot between Leeson (Show Lo) and Nancy (Na-Na OuYang), who are our secondary, ridiculously good-looking, protagonists.
If this is sounding complicated, I apologise. It isn't. The storytelling is more along the lines of your classic Chinese kung-fu movie, with multiple stories all working around a central theme. The focus on Leeson and Nancy is like Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull; bringing in fresh, up-and-coming popular faces along with the tried-and-tested talents of old...a formula I don't personally think works, but then again, I just review the films, not produce them. Maybe it brings in various demographics at the box-office? Every blockbuster needs a good love story for good measure, right? (The answer, by the way, is No.)
The second act drops a little pace wise, taking a very different direction with the Leeson-Nancy love story, but not for too long. There's a good deal of cheesy dialogue and unnecessary comedy which, although is typical of a Jackie Chan film, feels a little out of place here. I was expecting it though — what Jackie Chan film would be complete without a kick to the nuts and an ass on a grill? Right?
Rather than dig into the final act, let's instead talk technicals. This is a big budget, well made, balls-out action/sci-fi film. There is a plethora of colourful characters, more than enough action for your dollar, well-executed scenes, crazy stunts and effects, plus pretty much everything you've come to expect from a Jackie Chan film. The plot is thin and the story mostly irrelevant, but it is fun from beginning to end. The characters are likable (obviously), the baddies overly hyperbolised, the acting both hit and miss, and the score so typical it's barely worth commenting on...so I won't.
Overall impression? This would probably have been my favourite film in half a decade if I were sixteen and baked. It's a triumph considering what constitutes modern day action sci-fi. Sure, it's crazy cheesy, tropey, messy, and halfway cringy at times, but it delivers where you need it most; the action, the characters, the special effects and the production value. It's absolutely worth every cent I paid to see it for free...though you should totally drop the ten dollars for the rental. Jackie Chan is the most Jackie Chan since the last time you saw Jackie Chan doing that Jackie Chan thing — and that's pretty fucking Jackie Chan.
Here are a few side notes I'm way too lazy to try and work into the review; The Big Bad gets too little screen time, the jokes are terrible, Leeson's character is cringy as hell, and the plot holes are massive. Overall a good movie that is literal fun for the whole family — as cheesy as that sounds. Bleeding Steel succeeds in accomplishing what it set out to be, a fun, action-packed romp that will appeal to fans of all ages. Catch the trailer below, thanks for reading, and as always, stay sordid.
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