Bleeding Steel (2017)
The fate of mankind lies in the heart of one.
The next in line for the queue continues it’s battle of being out-positional, causing me to get a real surprise grab bag over the consistent three to four movies down the list that gets sent me. This is not bad, however, because I still populated it with movies that did something to pique my interest. In tonight’s case, the box art got it a watch. I’m a simple man, I see Jackie Chan in what looks to be a sci fi setting with some big old spaceship thing behind him running on some crazy wall with a laser gun and I’m sold. Could it be bad? Well, I mean, yeah anything I pick has the potential to be bad. Still though, it does have Jackie Chan. Cyber your punks and dull the neon to enhance the screen watching experience, we fixing to find out if it’s good or will leave our eyes Bleeding Steel.
In stark contrast to the futuristic looking cover art, we start off with a modern looking car and traffic and hospital. Oh, Jackie’s a cop? Oh no, his kid is sick? He’s racing down the sidewalk! Bioroid? Okay, well that certainly sounds more futuristic - and we’ve got a crap ton of normal looking swat-style cops and generic vest-wearing street police… this was supposed to be sci fi right? Boom, kerpow, EXPLOSION. Oh, okay, there’s the science fiction. Honestly it’s a bit rambling, but that sums up the initial expectations versus deliverance I had with this movie. It’s almost a very subdued element, honestly cropping up only in any real force via the bad guys - who in turn look quite out of place with the rest of the more modern-looking and feeling world. I don’t think it’s lost on the makers, who even sneak in a background couple stating “look honey, aliens” as if to poke fun at how much they stand out. If someone starts walking the streets of your town in Tron and Latex, you raise an eyebrow.
The science fiction does give the plot though. Science creates super-robotic heart to drive it’s tough-acting regeneration juice inspired by lizards and starfish. Bioroid soldier test subject gets a bit mental and start killing, decides to do the generic villain thing and go for immortality. This all crossed path with one super-stunt actor (once again playing a cop), and sets up the rest of the beats and hooks. It works - nothing super elaborate, far less fleshed out and thoughtful feeling as some of the other cop movies Chan has been in - but it gives enough of a base and reason that you can tune out the noise and just enjoy the movie. In most cases, as I’ve stated, the futuristic stuff only shows up on bad guys with the pew-pews and their tron lights and their latex. Every now and then you might even get a hacker setup, which is normally just modern computer parts spread out all over the place with plenty of lights. And the biggest element, beyond the regeneration, is a flying ship that looks like a spaceship, mostly unused until the final act.
The character tree is actually pretty full here. We have the sneaky watching guardian role as our main, but we also follow a girl who doesn’t take long to figure out who it is if you watched anything of the first part of the movie and seems to have some surprises up her sleeve. Although most the action comes from the former or his police buddies, some of the more interesting visuals come from the later as she tries to figure out things that are bothering her - like some rough and tumble nightmares that are waking her and her dorm mate up. We also get some following of the baddies - mainly a lady bad whose walking around beating down anyone that gets in her path, or at least trying, while the main dude baddy gets to just lurk about in the background for a while. We also get one other random pocket of a person in this crafty thief type who serves as comedy and mystery.
The actors all do a great job here, although the language barrier on some of the lines means I once again get to shrug as to how well the lines were delivered. As a native speaker of English, I could state that some of those deliveries weren’t the most convincing, but I’m not always exactly sure that it’s the fact it’s being delivered in English that’s the problem - it could just be the fact that it’s normally all the B-role characters delivering them as opposed to some more experienced actors. Still, body language on the mains is done well and can be used both to comedic effect as well as just serious intentions. Some of the lines might not be the only thing lost in translation though - I feel like some might get rather confused at the police force seeming suicide tactics against their advanced counter-forces. Honestly, I just tossed it up to total dedication to the job, but it might be something that people could get hung up on - which could be a potential problem, cause I feel like the movie is best set on that “don’t pick it apart” mode for enjoyment.
Thankfully, the other elements of what you’d expect in a movie containing Jackie Chan are there. We get some nice action scenes, with some sharp choreography. It’s not just him doing it either - which is probably a good thing, as the man has got to be getting to the point where he doesn’t recover from some of those injuries as fast as he used to - as the feature lady enemy and female cop friend also do some good butt kicking. The later in particular has a few scenes with so many spins and flips involved that it’s probably a good thing they use a little slow mo now and then to help you catch up. Some of it can be relatively quick, but honestly none of it is cut up so much or filmed so quick and shaky that you loose track of it. At times the action punches in some comedy that can work to some levels - but it smartly doesn’t do it at all times, and largely ends up coming from the mystery thief or odds and ends that are interacted with. Honestly, with what some of the scenes feel like they might have been setting up, that’s probably not a bad thing either - and some of that physical comedy can be rather universally funny, so it might be easier for a wider audience to get behind.
Effects were rather muted compared to what I’d think based on the cover. I’ve already stated that the enemies are the main piece when it comes to it plenty of times, but the costumes there are good regardless. The tech-overlayed fancied up biker helmets look sharp, and the extra little lighting elements on the suits make them look more futuristic. Other little added details, like sparks flinging off their armor as bullets ricochet harmlessly away are also a quite nice touch. The main lady villain gets the same lighting treatment, but less fancy overlays and spark effects, instead getting a classic Matrix style coat and some mean glowing poker-weapons. Standard explosions and gunshots, breaking glasses and fires all flop about as well, and the most questionable elements tend to be something feeling slightly like perhaps there was some roto being done or the obvious pew-gun effect or the super obvious flying ship element. It’s all fine though as you are watching, and looks good enough that you never quite linger in the “that doesn’t look right” for long enough to ruin your time. Some of the settings also get to be pretty cool, with the living mural of an apartment complex and elaborate witch-doctor’s mystical room and helper being quite fun and different feeling.
It was a fun little movie as I originally expected. Although surprised at how much more science fiction the art looked as opposed to the movie felt, it still had enough of the elements and costumes and effects in there that I didn’t feel too much left sitting in the misinformation department lounge. The actors do fine, the audio does it’s job fine, and overall it’s no worse that “just another action movie with Jackie Chan in it.” It does leave me with a lingering desire for an asymmetrical game of tech commandos versus task force martial arts, but the movie is perfectly acceptable for anyone who just wants a little action with a little sci fi in it.