BATTLE CREEK BRAWL - THE BIG BRAWL

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Battle Creek Brawl Cover I'm sure you will agree with me when I say some people just love to have a fight. Boxers. Martial artists. Mothers. Politicians. Angry people. Office workers. As well as anyone involved with the following 95 minute movie made in 1990. It was Directed by: Robert Clouse; and Starred: Jackie Chan, Kristine DeBell, Mako, with José Ferrer.


Battle Creek Brawl


THE STORY:
Now what the hell's wrong with you guys, eh? The only thing I asked you to do was to go and find some schmuck to kick the living cr*p out of that street fighter, Killer Kiss (H.B. Haggerty), so that I can then win a bet with his rightful owner.

But no. None of you clowns can manage a simple task like that! And do you know why you can't? It's simple really. It's because you're all a bunch of half-brained goons who aren't even able to defend themselves from some Chinese guy called Jerry Kwan (Jackie Chan).

Hey! Wait a minute! That's an idea! Why don't we get Jerry to help me out? For a start his Uncle Herbert (Mako) has managed to teach him all that chopsocky stuff. Plus I did hear that he and his girlfriend Nancy (Kristine DeBell) won a roller-skating competition together. 

Then again, that's most probably why what next transpires all goes old school when I say to myself, 'But there is one problem with my idea, Dominici (José Ferrer). How do I get Jerry to agree with my proposition?'. As a kidnapping is on the cards - a street fighter runs the longest yards - two rival opponents can't help but dis - and at the end of the day, the last man standing gives the last man sitting a very special kiss.




THE REVIEW:
On the whole I'd say 'Battle Creek Brawl' was a fairly topsy turvy movie. On the one hand the action on offer wasn't up to Jackie's usual high standards. On the other hand the overall narrative was pretty pedestrian to follow. Plus on yet another hand I did get a right kick out of the concept behind this piece -- that of a 1930's styled street brawl.

Jackie Chan in Battle Creek Brawl
Well, how can I put this, my friend? Try to imagine a live action Hanna-Barbera cartoon which involved our Jackie getting used by a bunch of gangsters who want him to win a street fight. But of course, our Jackie being our Jackie, he doesn't want to help them out, does he? So this then leaves the bad guys in question with only one other option. Scare Jackie into helping them out or else they'd kill someone he loves. Those lovely people being none other than his pretty girlfriend and his mad uncle.   

So yeah. Not an original premise to play off of, is it? Plus to a certain degree I can say exactly the same thing about the fight scenes as well.

Now as I said previously, by in large most of them appeared less powerful in execution, plus on occasion they did seem very cartoon-ish in tone. And to add insult to injury, here and there you could also tell where the editor got slightly carried away with himself, and this in turn hindered the flow of certain fights -- mainly Jackie's -- as well as the narrative in general. 

Also, something else about this film I wasn't too keen on was how stylistically inconsistent it was on screen. Aesthetically the whole adventure was supposed to be set during the 1930's. Yet in places you could easily see the modern world creeping into shot. As if the editor -- or the director for that matter -- forgot to think about this added layer whilst putting this piece together. 


Jackie Chan in Battle Creek Brawl


But don't fret, film fans. On the flip side of things I did enjoy watching an awful lot of this flick. For instance, this was the first time I saw an organised street battle utilize a car within it's choreography. You see, amidst this scene, Jackie got into this vehicle and literally punched someone with it head on. Trust me. It looked like it hurt. This was then predicated with a hilarious 'lead-in brawl' which literally took me out of my seat. In a good way of course. Physically feasting my eyes on a bunch of cartoon-ish villains beating each other senseless like a Hanna Barbera cartoon. Oh! Plus let's not forget Mako's inclusion in this brawl -- as well as many others -- whom aided it's jovial nature where its humor was concerned.

Jackie Chan in Battle Creek Brawl
Anyway. I'm sure by now you got the basic gist of what I thought about this movie. It was a good movie, although it could have been a lot better than it was. Don't believe me? Then for more information check out the following filmic-fact's, Ha! (1) Golden Harvest / Warner Bros. first released this co-production in Australia on the 18th of August, 1980, and eventually made back eight and a half million dollars at the US box office. (2) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'The Great Fighter' in Brazil; 'Chinese Man' in Denmark; and 'The Dragon Fights' in Finland. (3) The majority of this movie was shot on location throughout the American state of Texas, most notably Floresville and San Antonio. (4) One of the taglines used to promote this picture, was, 'A Martial Arts fight to the finish. Filmed in America by the producers of 'Enter the Dragon''. (5) Raymond Chow was one of the producers assigned to produce this flick, as well as being the sole producer on most of Bruce Lee's movies. (6) Believe it or not, Jackie actually learnt most of his dialogue by sound alone. So no. He didn't know what he was saying most of the time. (7) Jackie Chan once told a journalist that one of the main reasons this film failed so miserably at the box office was because he wasn't given a chance to direct the action scenes the way he wanted to. (8) To follow on from my previous fact, because this adventure failed financially in the Western film market, Jackie was then forced to star in the all-action comedy, 'Cannonball Run'.


Jackie Chan and Kristine DeBell in Battle Creek Brawl


Ouch! Did you check out those last couple of facts, dear reader? The one's about Jackie's disdain for the fighting scenes? Well, I suppose that explains why 'Battle Creek Brawl' ended up as the fairly decent film it was. Not as spectacular as some of Jackie's other works of course. Yet I still think it's well worth a watch if you would like to see an amalgamation of 'Any Which Way You Can', 'Way of the Dragon', and 'No Retreat No Surrender'. Plus, a little bit of Jackie thrown in for good measure. What do you say about that Mister Chan?




Wow! What a great guy. And he has such nice hair too.

THE RATING: A