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Rapid Fire

(1992)
Its possible Brandon Lee would not ever have gone on to become a great actor; certainly he was spectacular in The Crow, but James Dean aside, actors are usually judged on a body of work, and while The Crow really was that good, a lot of Lees other movies arent. Rapid Fire was a mindless 1992 release that features Lee playing Jake Lo, the son of a protestor killed at Tiananmen Square, who has a hard time letting go of that. He refuses to be used as a spokesman for the movement, not wishing to peddle on his fathers martyrdom. By accident he witnesses a drug-related killing, and though his mantra of noninvolvement dictates he stand aside, he gets caught up in the turf war when the bad guy Antonio Serrano (Nick Mancuso, who just stinks here) realizes Jake spotted him icing a rival. From there Serrano tries to get at Jake, and nearly does but for the timely intervention of the unlikely monikered Mace Ryan (Powers Booth), a hard-ass cop who will do anything to nail Serrano and his surviving rival Tau (Tzi Ma). Lee is reasonably good here, playing a smart-ass who cant believe the situation hes landed in the middle of. Sadly, hes the only one who can act: Mancuso is really bad, and Booth is so over the top every line is either growled or screamed out. Not that this would have been high drama in any case, but it might have been slightly easier to take had anyone other than Lee given a damn about his performance. The acting is about a half-step up from rounding up some strangers at a coffee-house and having them go at it. The only reason to watch this film is to see Lee in some pretty impressive action sequences, displaying much of his fathers ability with more than a hint of Jackie Chans style as well. Watching Lee take out dim-witted thug after thug, one cannot help but wonder how good he might have become, (think of him in something like Rush Hour or even some of Seagals films in the 90s, and think how much better they would have been). Theres no doubt we lost a talent with that accident on the set of The Crow, and even a weak film like Rapid Fire cant hide that. February 14, 2004