This is my favorite Brand Lee film where he showcases his skills and has a commanding presence in the lead role – it’s Rapid Fire.
Brandon plays Jake Lo, a young kid who 2 years previous lost his father at the Tiananmen Square protests. Going about his normal routine he is hit up by a young speaker who wants Jake to give his own speech at an event regarding the protests – which Jake declines.
Later he is lured to the event by a young attractive girl who asks him out, but during this event a powerful mob boss kills one of his local drug dealing competitors. After the man is killed Jake just happens to witness this mob boss, Sorano, holding the gun after it was fired. Naturally Sorano sends his guys out to kill Jake to protect himself from being identified as the gunman.
This proves to be difficult as Jake has spent a large chunk of his life studying Kung Fu, Muay Thai and many other arts as he skillfully manages to evade being killed, kicking a few asses during his escape.
Jake then ends up at a Police Station and his forced to remain under custody to take down Sorano, but during his being held a group of police, hired by Sorano, turn on him and he once again is on the run. Eventually he finds a man loyal to the cause who uses him to take Sorano down in exchange he will clear up Jake’s ‘cop killing’ status and allowing him to return to his life.
But more and more enemies arrive and naturally more fights erupt as we get to see some awesome Brandon Lee martial arts action!
Jake Lo, Young, Skilled and Full of Attitude!
Brandon’s character Jake is packed with attitude. After the death of his father he’s adopted a set mentality and isn’t one to fight for a cause after it cost the life of a loved on. But as the movie continues on he learns a little about his father and manages to change his mindset, to become someone who believes in risking your life for a cause and puts his neck out to do so.
Also just as interesting we see him kill someone for the first time in self defense, and the look on his face shows just how much his character regrets having to take the action. Interestingly this happens the first few times but slowly fades – it seems he gets used to having to kill some of his opponents after sometime.
The transition is interesting to watch, and Brandon Lee brings his own unique performance to the character – packed with a saracastic anger and intensity that is really unique to him – he was definitely a good actor not just a good martial artist.
Ultimately this theme of ‘fighting for a cause’ seems to be the driving message that makes this film just a little more than ‘just a bland action movie’, as the plot plays out pretty steadily in typical Hollywood Action movie fashion – backed up by Brandon’s likable persona and performance. The movie wouldn’t have been as watchable without him.
The Action and Martial Arts
While Brandon Lee is an accomplished martial artist in his own right, training under his father’s students like Dan Inosanto helps you could see he was in good hands on the set. They managed to help him get the most out of his performance. Spotted were guys like James Lew and even Gene Lebell – which I find interesting as he was one of Bruce Lee’s stunt men back in the 60’s on the Green Hornet.
Brandon’s performance really packs a punch, but was a little aided by punchy sound effects to further sell some of the less convincing blows. But in it’s entirely Brandon’s martial arts display was fantastic. Each fight had a good pace to it and we see a variety of different movements from different styles used at appropriate times.
Obviously there’s the flashy kicks and the acrobatic stuff, but Brandon pulls out the Muay Thai elbows quite often on this film, and even gives us a nice little display of in close ‘Wing Chun’ trapping during on the of the final fights. His style is aggressive and fun to watch.
Right from the beginning we see entertaining fights as Brandon uses his environment to take out the guys trying to capture him – setting the tone for the many inventive and well performed fights ahead.
Should you see it?
While Brandon doesn’t have the same Martial Arts movie impact as his father Bruce, he was on the way up and this movie is his best in my opinion (as a martial arts fan). Check it out for sure!
On DVD –
Region 1 (US & Canada)
Region 2 (UK, Europe, etc)
Rapid Fire [DVD] 
Region 4 (Australia, New Zealand, etc)