Bleeding Steel [Ji qi zhi xue] (2017)

When I saw the trailer, I knew I had to see this one.

It had to be the most insane mish-mash of science fiction tropes I have seen since…well, since the last Hong Kong science fiction movie.

In fact, more than anything else, this one reminds me of Future X Cops, which hits many of the same marks, such as the super-powerful villain; the usual evil Kung Fu girl; and, of course, the story starting with the cop and his daughter experiencing some sort of tragedy which then suddenly jumps forward in time.

On the other hand, it reminds me of many of the Eighties and Nineties Jackie Chan’s, where he is some sort of secret undercover cop (which, come to think of it, is the profession of a lot of HK movie heroes…).

In fact, it is very like those “classic” Jackie Chan movies, with the same combination of fast-paced story, lots of zany action sequences, slapstick humor, and some amazing Kung Fu, with a touch of absurdity to most of the proceedings.  Jackie looks better than I’ve seen him looking in years.  It is a pleasant surprise after seeing him looking almost mummified in Kung Fu Yoga and The Ninjago Movie — and especially pleasant after the series of much grimmer, more dramatic films he’s done, like The Foreigner.  In fact, if you squint a little bit, you can pretend that it is some lost Eighties Jackie Chan, particularly when he slides down the Sydney Opera House, in a repeat of one of his classic stunts from Who Am I?

Now, like any Jackie Chan movie of this sort, there are things we just don’t question, like how the villain has survived if his body doesn’t regenerate properly, or where he got the big spaceship thing with the fully-equipped Bond villain lab, the sterile “bubble” he has to live in, and a full crew of light-up scientists and black-armored soldiers (he must have written one heck of a classified ads.  Or maybe it was the benefits package.  Who knows?).  Or, how Jackie’s “Officer Lin” managed to shadow his daughter for 13 years and build a secret lair with enough guns to film a Schwarzenegger movie despite being unemployed and officially dead.

Let’s face it, if that sort of thing matters to you, you’re in the wrong place:  you should go to the next theater and watch that tear-jerking drama about how awful everything is.  Or go home to read Moby Dick (which I’d recommend doing anyway).  After all, this is a Jackie Chan movie, an old-school one at that, a throwback to the days when what really mattered was that you entertained the audience — and hopefully did it with a bit of flair and a touch of something extravagant.

This one does that.  Perhaps not as well as he did back in the day, but that’s asking a lot, after all.  However, the villain’s compact-sized Imperial Star Destroyer makes up for a lot of that.

And let’s face it, it is hard to find this kind of fun in the movie theaters anymore.

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