DirectorDwight H. Little
Release Date(s)1992 (August 21, 2018)
Studio(s)20th Century Fox (Twilight Time)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: C
Brandon Lee, son of legendary martial arts expert and actor Bruce Lee, like his father, passed away much too soon. He was well on his way to stardom in Hollywood after playing Eric Draven in The Crow. But before taking on such an iconic role, he also starred in the martial arts action thriller Rapid Fire.
After witnessing the loss of his father, disgruntled college student Jake Lo (Lee), attends a pro-democracy campaign party and sees the party’s sponsor Carl Chang (Michael Paul Chen) shot to death during a battle between two feuding drug lords. Chang, who was also a member of an Asian gang led by Kinman Tau (Tzi Ma), was gunned down by Antonio Serrano (Nick Mancuso), head of a mafia drug distributor. Having seen Serrano shoot and kill one of Tau’s dealers, Lo must now fight off the mobsters and plan his escape. Looking to clear his name after being wrongly associated with the situation, he receives some much-needed assistance from private detective Withers (Kate Hodge) and lieutenant Ryan (Powers Boothe). Ryan wants Jake to testify against Serrano and learn where Tau’s next drug shipment will be, which ultimately leads to a violent showdown.
Rapid Fire, which was Brandon Lee’s second American film, is an above-average action thriller helmed by Dwight H. Little, who horror fans will know as the director of Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and the Robert Englund version of Phantom of the Opera. His style remains the same here, basically cramming as much suspense into 90 minutes as possible. Everything moves at a near-feverish pace as Brandon Lee showcases his martial arts skills. He actually choreographed many of the fight scenes, paying homage to his father by using similar techniques. The cast hands in credible performances, including Powers Booth, who would go on to several iconic roles, including “Curly Bill” Brocious in Tombstone, senator Roark in Sin City, and Cy Tolliver in Deadwood. The musical score by Christopher Young fits the tone of the film perfectly while the cinematography by Ric Waite is outstanding, featuring some breathtaking location work. The only real blemish is Lee’s character of Jake Lo, who identifies himself as a pacifist, but immediately turns to violence once he’s under attack. However, in a film like Rapid Fire, perhaps these little shortcomings don’t really matter.
Twilight Time presents Rapid Fire on Blu-ray via 20th Century Fox and it’s a definite winner. There are crisp, vibrant colors and rich textures to the scenery. Greens and reds look especially strong while black levels are deep with excellent shadow detail. Skin tones and surfaces appear accurate and are detailed enough to clearly see perspiration and 5 o’clock shadow. The audio is provided in English 2.0 DTS-HD. Dialogue, gunfire, and other sound effects sound well-balanced and clear without any issues, such as hiss or dropouts. Optional subtitles in English SDH are also included.
For the extras, there’s an isolated score track, which sounds flawless; a new audio commentary with composer Christopher Young and film historian Nick Redman covering Young’s contributions, the background of the film, and the cast and crew; the 2-minute featurette Introducing Brandon Lee, which has been ported over from the previous DVD release; the original theatrical trailer; a scroll-through of the current Twilight Time catalogue; and an 8-page insert booklet with an essay on the film by Julie Kirgo.
If there was ever a movie that matched its name, Rapid Fire is it. It’s a rollercoaster ride/adrenaline rush type of film that will keep you on board all the way through. Twilight Time’s high definition presentation will also make the viewing experience of the film that much more enjoyable. Recommended!
- David Steigman