Bleeding Steel (2018)
Director: Leo Zhang
Starring : Jackie Chan, Show Lo, Na-Na OuYang and Challan Mulvey
Release Date: 5th November on VOD services
Upon seeing the write up in my inbox I leapt at the chance to watch and review this film. Jackie Chan in a cyberpunk/sci-fi thriller? Yes please! I’ve grown up on a steady stream of Jackie Chan movies, starting with the Rush Hour films and working backwards as I’ve got older to his older films like Police Story (the theme to which Jackie Chan sings in the credits here) and I’m hard pressed to think of a film that promised such a meeting of two great things. Sadly, that promise was not to be kept, Its definitely a Jackie Chan film, the fighting and the combat has his almost trademark style and character, with a quick pace, fluid movement and sprinkled with humour. The scene at the Sydney Opera House showcases this film at its best, Jackie’s in full swing, quite literally at times and it is a great example of a cohesive fight scene.
The prospect of this being a sci-fi or cyberpunk film however is entirely incorrect. It appears as though the extent of this films budget for being futuristic may have been spent on the bad guys spaceship which was shown from the outside and rendered perfectly a handful of times. The Generic Unlimited Henchmen (TM) effectively wore black daft punk costumes with occasional light up faces. We had a femme fatale who wore black and red leather and latex and a main villain who was a cut and copy design of Star Trek’s Locutus of the Borg and that’s it for sci-fi. The world is entirely modern, there is no sign of any technology that is alien or futuristic save for the tech the bad guys use, and there’s no story telling reason for why this is the case, it just is, which is a little jarring at times, the enemies just don’t inhabit the world’s narrative particularly well.
Underneath the glamour of unkept promises there’s a promising story, even if it is a little messy, the central premise being that the big bad, named Andre (a name of evil if I’ve ever heard one) is a genetically modified, immortal, super soldier with regenerative blood and a mechanical heart and
needs something to make it work properly. The something in question being held by Jackie’s daughter who he’s been guarding from a distance. There’s a good premise I promise, it’s just a shoddy execution. There’s even a macguffin in the form of a camera with information on it that the bad guys sorely needed, however they already know all the information on it.
I can’t review this film without mentioning that it was an English dubbed version from the original Mandarin and it definitely suffers for it. Lionsgate have removed all of the original Mandarin from the film and the version I saw could only be watched in English and some sentences have been poorly translated including some really awkward dubbing over scenes. I think, if you can manage it, you’d be better off watching an original language version with subs, as something certainly seems lost in translation here.
In summary, despite it’s flaws there is some hope for this film, there’s a few good fight scenes and some lovely character from Jackie Chan as always that allows it to shine through a muddled execution and setting. It would certainly make a good addition to a cheesy movie night with friends, however, it’s unlikely to be one you’d watch over and over again.