After cameos in “Kung Fu,” a still laughable premiere in “Laser Mission,” and shifting out of the shadows of bigger names in “Showdown in Little Tokyo,” Brandon Lee finally garnered his own action vehicle in 1992. Whether you like, love, or hate the movie, there’s no denying Brandon Lee had what it took. With the fading mold of the action star becoming an antiquated concept in modern cinema, Brandon Lee had the chops to become a bonafide film star who could have built himself an empire in the same way Michael Douglas did by straying from the legacy of his father Kirk Douglas.
Lee had wit, looks, charm, and a great knack for being a likable hero. “Rapid Fire” is a clumsy 1992 action romp, but one that I still consider a genre favorite. It is Brandon Lee in a nutshell, a man capable of giving his all in some excellent action scenes, and rising above the derivative. With “Rapid Fire,” Lee injects the spirit of his father with endless nods to his father Bruce, offering a movie that may have been a Bruce Lee project in another world if created years before his death. Brandon takes up the mantle as part American and part Asian Jake Lo, a young man who lost his dad in a revolution long ago. Now devoting his life to pacifism and art, he is invited by a gorgeous art student to a party. Just Jake’s luck, there’s a top secret mobster rally happening within the belly of the office where the party is being held. When the meeting goes awry, Jake accidentally witnesses the murder of a crime boss by the hands of Antonio Serrano. Identified, Jake fights his way out of the mob war and put under witness protection.
“Rapid Fire” is meant to be a display for what Brandon Lee is capable of in the realm of film, and he shows off what he can accomplish and offer his fans in spades. “Rapid Fire” provides a lot of great action set pieces for Lee, one of which involves a botched witness protection scheme in which Lo has to fend off two armed assassins in a kitchen. When things go from bad to worse, Lo takes it upon himself to infiltrate the crime ring and end the threat altogether, and Lee is able to go hogwild, battling non-stop thugs, brawling with other criminals in a confined setting as a shoot out ensues. And in the finale, Lee–paying homage to his dad Bruce–masquerades as an Asian laundry worker, who does battle with the legendary Al Leong amidst a chain link fence. “Rapid Fire” isn’t a perfect film, with a stock Italian mobster villain (Nick Mancuso) sporting a goofy New Yawk accent, as well as the typical Asian crime bosses that are spiritual and quiet.
I also found the plot to meander from its original path deviating in to a boring cops versus bad guys thriller, but overall it’s a fun and slick action thriller that proved Brandon Lee could rise up with the likes of his dad and other icons. It’s a definite favorite I never tire of watching. Though the villains are stock, and the sub-plot is derivative, “Rapid Fire” is a fantastic action thriller with Brandon Lee center stage and showing what he’s capable of as a hero and action star. With a slick sense of humor, great action set pieces, and nice winks to Lee’s father, this is a bang up nineties action vehicle.