Friday, 26 September 2008

Rapid Fire


Directed By: Dwight H. Little
Screenplay: Alan B. McElroy
Starring: Brandon Lee, Nick Mancuso & Powers Boothe

An underrated gem of action cinema, Rapid Fire stills smacks you between the eyes with some of the hardest hitting action the 90s ever delivered. Brandon Lee shines in one of his two really great films (the other being The Crow) in a muscular action film where the body count is high, the bad guys just plain nasty and the action still spectacular fifteen years on. Lee plays Jake Lo, an idealistic young man who is also very adapt at martial arts and protecting himself in a high risk situation. Witnessing a mob killing, Jake is put into protective custody until he can identify the killer, the very nasty Nick Mancuso (Under Siege 2). However, he soon finds the cops are in with the mob and goes on the run before teaming up with rogue cop Powers Boothe (Sudden Death) and his motley crew who intend to bring down Mancuso and his heroin dealing buddies. Cue lots and lots of barnstorming action.

The action and stunts in this movie are amazing. The action scenes are shot with such intensity and hard hitting impact it’s a shame they don’t make them like this anymore. Lee, much like his father, is a human dynamo when it comes to kicking butt, his martial arts and athleticism top notch. While the movie features some big stunts and impressively staged shootouts, it’s Lee’s inventive tussle with two bent cops in a tiny apartment that really standouts. Using anything he can get his hands on to make a weapon out of, the scene crackles with invention as he jumps through cubby holes, uses cutlery draws and even doors to thwart the guys who are desperately trying to shoot him. An amazing scene, wearing its Hong Kong influence proudly on its sleeve and just one of many outstanding action scenes.

Of course Lee also has the charisma and acting chops to imbue his character with a little more soul and likeability than the typical action hero. He’s ably supported by Boothe as the grizzled cop, Mancuso as the sleazy Serrano and a sprightly Kate Hodge (The Hidden 2) as the tough female cop Jake has the hots for. The direction is tight and fluid and so it should be from Dwight H. Little. He made another 90s gem, Marked for Death, which also featured tons of hard edged action and gave Steven Seagal one of his best vehicles.

Excellent action flick that deserves rediscovering. It may not have the complexity or originality of Die Hard, but Rapid Fire still delivers in spades and shows what a star Brandon Lee could have been if he had lived to reach the possibilities he was destined for. Excellent.

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