Bleeding Steel 机器之血 (2017) Review

Bleeding Steel centres on a former special forces agent Lin (Jackie Chan), who must protect his teenage daughter Nancy (Nana Ouyang) from a group of bio-engineered soldiers led by the vengeful Andrew (Callan Mulvey).

You gotta admire the spirit that Jackie Chan has. At 63 years old, he still looks fit and even active enough to pull off three physically-demanding action roles for this year alone. That includes Kung Fu Yoga, The Foreigner and now Bleeding Steel, which also marks his first foray into a sci-fi genre. While Kung Fu Yoga and The Foreigner proved that the older Jackie Chan still knows how to entertain his viewers with his signature brand of kung fu action, Bleeding Steel is shockingly dull in almost every way. Even after I went in with zero expectation, I couldn’t believe what I saw on the big screen. Sure, the opening nighttime shootout sequence does show some promises. But shortly after the beginning, everything goes downhill and never recovers.

Let’s start with the plot. Leo Zhang, who also directed from his own screenplay tries hard to mix serious sci-fi theme and broad comedy often found in most China-funded productions. Unfortunately, none of them works. The comedy feels either cringey or painfully unfunny, with Show Lo doing most of the comic reliefs. Although he does a good job playing a comedy role in Stephen Chow’s The Mermaid as Octopus last year, it was a polar opposite altogether in this movie. The director even goes as far as having him cross-dressing as a call girl earlier in the movie. But instead of drawing a laugh, Show Lo’s comic timing is totally off-putting.

Then, there’s the so-called serious sci-fi theme. And yet, it’s hard for me to take this movie seriously when the antagonists, especially the henchwoman played by Tess Haubrich, are unintentionally laughable. I mean, how do you expect us not to laugh at the way she dresses in all the shiny leather tights that looks like she stole from Tron: Legacy costumes department?

The setting itself also poses another major problem. Although the movie takes place in the near future, there is nothing futuristic about the overall environment or the surrounding. Instead, it looks like it sets on a present day and the reason the antagonists wear differently than the others completely baffles me from minute one. It’s like as if Zhang’s screenplay is a result of nonsensical ideas tossed altogether by different investors who contributed the money for the production.

Frankly, I feel pity for Jackie Chan. He must have thought Bleeding Steel boasts a cool sci-fi concept that enables him to venture into a different genre territory. However, the material that he has been given is outrageously bad. He even plays his lead role as serious as possible, but the inconsistent tone of the storyline makes him as if he’s auditioning in a wrong movie. The rest of the supporting actors are equally forgettable, with Nana Ouyang’s sweet-natured presence alone isn’t enough to offset her wooden performance. Callan Mulvey, who plays the main antagonist as Andrew, looks like a reject version of Schwarzenegger’s Mr Freeze from Batman & Robin.

Finally, the action is mostly a major letdown. Apart from the tense opening sequence, none of the action set-pieces able to generate worthwhile excitements. Even the much-ballyhooed “first action sequence shot atop the famous Sydney Opera House” is sadly ruined by dull stunt choreography. If that’s not enough, the movie concludes with a series of uninspiring outtakes featuring Chan’s own Mandarin version of Police Story theme (!) Well, I hate to put it this way but Bleeding Steel easily ranks as one of Jackie Chan’s worst action movies ever seen in recent memory.

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