FOOT FIST FRIDAYS: Brandon Lee Takes On Al Leong in the Fisticuffs Filled 90’s Classic RAPID FIRE!

Welcome to FOOT FIST FRIDAYS! A weekly dose of fight action where the experts share their thoughts on some of the greatest scenes of fisticuffs in action cinema history!

This week, The Cinema Drunkie tackles the iconic and climatic square off in Rapid Fire between the late, great Brandon Lee and veteran bad guy Al Leong!

By: The Cinema Drunkie

Rapid Fire is a 1992 action film starring the late, great Brandon Lee as Jake Lo, a college student who inadvertently witnesses a gangland hit, so the bad guys come after him. What the bad guys don’t know is that Jake knows badass kung fu, but they’re gonna find out… the hard way!

Let me clue you guys into the worst kept secret about me: I am a product of a martial arts action household. Growing up with 2 parents (Hey Mom & Pop!) who had a huge love of martial arts cinema, it was inevitable that I’d fall in love with the genre myself. It was through them that I discovered Bruce Lee. After being shown a copy of The Chinese Connection and being wowed by his electrifying energy, I scrambled to find anything that he starred in. 

While fawning over Bruce’s excellent, but unfortunately short (RIP) filmography, a greater discovery was made. Bruce Lee had a son, Brandon, and he is now making movies himself. 7 year old me jumped for joy! And after watching the underrated 1991 Dolph Lundgren Buddy Cop cult action classic Showdown in Little Tokyo, I eagerly awaited his next movie. And thank the action gods, I didn’t have to wait long. Released on August 21, 1992, Rapid Fire would be Brandon’s first starring role in a major Hollywood release. And he didn’t disappoint.

Now, the story is fine, but nothing that was game changing. It’s pretty much just your standard 80s action movie storyline. And that’s great, because I love 80s action movies. But let’s be real with ourselves… we didn’t watch this one for the story, did we? We watched this to see Brandon Lee kick major ass. And that he did, through a dazzling display of multiple martial arts that went mostly unseen by his Hollywood martial arts action counterparts. While they mostly stuck to one definitive art (Van Damme with Shotokan Karate, Seagal with Aikido, and Speakman with Kenpo), Brandon was showcasing: Jeet Kune Do, Wing Chun, Muay Thai and Shaolin Kung Fu.

The apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree, does it? Brandon also had a big love for Hong Kong action cinema, with homages to such Jackie Chan movies like Police Story and Dragons Forever, and one or two to his own iconic father, thrown in for good measure. All of this combined led to some of the finest martial arts sequences the 90s had to offer. Especially the one with Lee vs legendary action movie villain, Al Leong.

This is… this is just sublime. It’s due to fight scenes like this why action fans greatly complain about the fight scenes of today. Look at the sparse cutting. Look at how still and steady the camera is. Look at how they’re actually in frame. I miss days like this when this was the norm rather than the exception. 

But look at that moment from 1:14 to 1:24. The beauty of Wing Chun on display for 10 unbroken seconds in a Hollywood production. Just magnificent, and Brandon Lee did that. Seeing moments like this makes me all the more sorrowful that we didn’t get to see more great action films from Brandon who, as you most likely already know, died tragically during the filming of his next movie The Crow on March 31, 1993 (which was also my 9th birthday). He was truly destined for greatness. RIP little dragon. 

But, at least we have amazing action classics like this one to remember him by. And when you consider everything I just said, Rapid Fire is quite possibly the most awesome blending of eastern and western action filmmaking. At least in my opinion it is. And it is no surprise that it came from the son of Bruce Lee. Once again bringing east and west together, as one. Like father. Like son. Like dynamite.

About The Aurthor: With his mind utterly intoxicated off of a steady stream of movies, comics and cartoons, a young boy from Brooklyn, New York grew up to become the man known as… THE CINEMA DRUNKIE!!!

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