Our Jackie Chan Adventures series closes with the eponymous action star’s first American vehicle, Rumble in the Bronx.

Review by Trylon volunteer Thorn Chen.

Almost immediately as he gets to the Bronx, Ma Hon Keung (Jackie Chan) gets on the bad side of neighborhood motorcycle thugs and its head Tony (Marc Akerstream), who leads his followers in a go-cart. Jackie beats up some gang members for roughing up a grocery store, and things go south from there. The fact that he runs off with the gang leader’s girlfriend Nancy (Françoise Yip) does not help matters.

The neighborhood bickering—and near lethal fights between Jackie and the gang—gets overshadowed when Angelo, whose nose Jackie broke in the first fight, gets everyone accidentally mixed up in a multimillion dollar diamond heist and a criminal syndicate whose thugs wear suits, ride around in Lincoln town cars, and impersonate FBI agents. Jackie’s new girlfriend and her wheelchair-bound little brother are taken hostage, and Jackie finds himself in an epic hovercraft chase in order to get the bad guys and rescue the hostages.

That’s about all there is in terms of plot. As with most films starring Jackie Chan, Rumble in the Bronx is thin on narrative, for which it compensates with well-choreographed (and ridiculous) fight sequences, complete with the requisite props.

Jackie is, in fact, helpless without his props. Cornered in a dead end of an alleyway by the biker gang, he is almost killed as the gangsters bat empty liquor bottles his way (literally, with a baseball bat). When he goes after the gang in a used appliance store, he is golden: refrigerators, TVs, ladders, and hanging lamps all become his allies and accessories. Not to mention, the props make the brawls interesting. And there are a lot of brawls, in the typical Bronx locales—a supermarket, a parking garage, graffiti-filled alleyways, a boathouse, a beach.

Rumble was the first of Jackie’s films to break into the U.S. market, and this significant fact shows in its narrative geography. Title credits pasted over a plane flying against the sunset cuts to the airport, where Jackie gets a ride from his uncle. On their way across the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan (taking a very inefficient route from JFK airport to the Bronx), Jackie marvels at the downtown Manhattan skyline; his uncle says, “This is Manhattan. I could only dream of having a market here… my market is in the Bronx.”

Hence the film’s stand in the inter-borough rivalry, where Jackie puts aside his differences with the biker thugs from the Bronx in order to fight the suit-and-tie mafia, with its leader “White Tiger,” obviously more at home in Manhattan. After all, Jackie Chan and Kung Fu cinema fit in better with the racially diverse biker gangs of the Bronx than the town car driving diamond dealers. All this doesn’t prevent gems of moralizing dialogue, like when Jackie tells the gang (after he has beaten them up): “don’t you know you’re the scum of society?”

Thorn Chen is from New York, now in Minneapolis pursuing a PhD at the U, where he studies Chinese cinema, reads continental philosophy, and scrounges for funds to support his coffee addiction. 

Rumble in the Bronx screens Monday and Tuesday at 7:00 & 9:00. Purchase tickets here.


The Trylon’s celebrated 5th Anniversary Silent Film Festival has been a rousing success, and it closes this weekend with the man who started it all: Buster Keaton. Five years ago we presented a month of sold-out Keaton shows to inaugurate the Trylon, and we’ve been going strong ever since. Come enjoy Go West, Keaton’s western masterpiece, with live accompaniment by Rats and People MN. This a hilarious send up of a genre that, by 1925, was already in need of a good ribbing!

Review by Trylon regular Ben Schmidt.

No spoilers here, I refuse to tell you why or how Buster Keaton goes West. But soon after he does so the following occurs:

Unexpectedly, our hero ends up on a cattle ranch, a fish out of water. Hes poor. Hungry. Trying to fit in.

While out trying to help the other workers, a cow limps past him. He approaches it cautiously, still not used to this place, or its people, or these animals. Mustering a bit of courage, he pats her head. At rest, or in his company, she seems content.

So he grabs her bum leg and sees a rock has lodged in her hoof. He removes it, making it a point to show her the cause of her pain before dropping it to the ground. All better now.

A second passes. Keaton glances down at their feet, at this rock that now rests on the ground. No. That wont do. As cow looks on, he snatches up the rock up and digs a small hole. Then quickly buries it as best as hes able, ensuring no harm will come to her ever again.

Its disarmingly thoughtful, and so damned sweet, and just one of the many reasons I was so taken with this film. Id never witnessed Keatons wonderful attention to detail and timing, but I now understand why this film from 1924 remains fresh and funny.

For neophytes like myself, its testament to Keatons talent as actor and director, and to his alarmingly wonderful attention to detail and timing.

No wonder this film from 1924 remains so funny and engaging.

Though tiny keychain-gunplay never hurts either…

Ben Schmidt is a writer: strong of beard, smooth of voice.

Go West screens Friday and Saturday at 7:00 and 9:30; Sunday at 5:00 and 7:30. Purchase tickets here.

chan-drunken-masterOur wonderful Jackie Chan Adventures series continues with what some consider his greatest movie, The Legend of Drunken Master!

Review by Trylon regular Ben Schmidt.

The Legend of Drunken Master is exactly five things:

1. Its the best kung fu movie ever made.

2. Its so damned good, it transcends its own genre, being one of the best films ever made, period. (Doubts? Know my mother and Time magazine both back me up here.)

3. Its Jackie Chans Citizen Kane (Yuen Woo-ping being Chans Herman J. Mankiewicz).

4. Its the story of how you never knew how much you wanted to see a man with a spear fight a man with a sword underneath a train, until you see exactly that. And you realize its the BEST thing. And THEN you realize that fight took place while our Drunken Legend was sober. Who knows what hes capable of when he starts to drink. (And he then very quickly starts to drink.)

5. Its showing at the Trylon!

 What more do you need to know? An amazing film. Not to be missed.

Ben Schmidt is a writer: strong of beard, smooth of voice.

The Legend of Drunken Master screens Monday and Tuesday at the Trylon at 7:00 & 9:00. Purchase tickets here.


SM2-GH186-Project-A-Part-II-S01The Trylon’s Jackie Chan Adventures continues with the crazy historical epic Project A.

Review by Trylon regular Ben Schmidt.

Project A is a weird bird. But any bird that allows Jackie Chan, Samo Hung, and Yuen Biao to sing together is worth watching, this film being no exception. They three are a type of Voltron–each strong of their own accord, but most phenomenal together.

Do approach this screening with a patient mind, as Project A takes a while to sort itself out. In the beginning, Chan’s humorless stint in sailor suit comes across as distant and odd. It feels like work. Things happen. People argue. Boats explode, though not very well. Even the first fight scene, a bar brawl, feels uninspired.

But hang in there, dear friend. Once you reach the hand-grenade tomfoolery, know that Project A does relax and begin to have fun–as will you. And as the movie finds its footing, you’ll begin to appreciate its unsung stars. Yes, as always, Jackie Chan orchestrates ridiculous stunts, one that allegedly almost killed him. (When you see the landing, you’ll know which.) But, dear sweet Lord, do you feel the thankless work of his stunt team as they are kicked, chucked and hurtled about from one scene to the next? Though it’s often cringe-worthy, the choreography is a refreshingly earnest display of talent and discipline.

Thankfully, the brute physicality on display is balanced with Chan’s now trademark humor and playfulness. It’s far from a one-note production. Ultimately, these people are busting their bottoms to entertain you, and their effort shines, with no fancy editing or special effects to hide behind.

That being said, I shall say it again, Project A is a weird bird. This is a film that harbors both a light-hearted and surprising bicycle chase, and quite suddenly knives go plunging into the chest and legs of unfortunate pirates (which is followed by the funniest line in the movie). But this weird is good weird. Most films struggle to have any personality at all, let alone one as funky and unrefined as Project A’s. Well worth enjoying in the cool, comforting darkness of the Trylon.

SUPER PROJECT A BONUS CHALLENGE: When the time comes, try figuring out who supplies the English voice of pirate leader Lo Sam Pau. Don’t ruin it for yourself beforehand (put down the Google.) The casting decision was another odd, wonderful part of Project A. I loved it. And later, I was genuinely delighted to discover who it was.

Like the film itself, a mad little bit of genius.

Ben Schmidt is a writer: strong of beard, smooth of voice.

Project A screens at the Trylon Monday and Tuesday at 7:00 & 9:00. Purchase tickets here.