`Rumble' Fumbles for Martial Arts Star
Arnold, Gary, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
The North American market has remained the elusive prize for Jackie Chan. An international favorite for many years, the disarmingly boyish and phenomenally acrobatic Hong Kong action star - the most satisfying martial arts virtuoso since Bruce Lee - has conquered every significant moviegoing population on the planet except the U.S. public.
It remains to be seen if this lucrative colony of holdouts will finally be bowled over by "Rumble in the Bronx," the latest attempt to Americanize the Chan appeal.
"Rumble" is a Hong Kong-based replica of the successful Chan formula, transposed in part to settings in New York City that lend themselves to harmonious stylization - alleys, wire fences, rooftops, ranks of parked cars and waterways are especially useful to Mr. Chan's stunt sequences - and then dubbed into English.
Mr. Chan supervises his own features, even if he isn't credited as the director of record. The action footage reflects his inspiration and authority. The martial arts stunt sequence is about the closest thing that now exists to the vintage musical production number. The medium no longer showcases great dance soloists, but it can still accommodate an exceptional acrobat.
"Rumble in the Bronx" typifies the format that still seems to appease customers waiting for "the good parts." Mr. Chan arrives in New York to attend the wedding of an uncle (Bill Tung) who owns a supermarket, supposedly in the Bronx, and plans a honeymoon with his bride, an exuberant and affectionate black woman called Whitney (Carrie Sparks).
These cheerful, middle-aged, interracial newlyweds leave a certain personality deficit in the movie when they depart. …