So how does the American version of Rumble in the Bronx compare to the Asian version?
by Gary Johnson

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Rumble in the Bronx Comes to Video

Rumble in the Bronx was released in Asia in 1994, over a year before its American release. And the version seen in Asia (and on the Taiwanese laser disc that I reviewed), contains about 15 additional minutes of film footage. But don't get too excited: those 15 minutes don't include any additional stunts by Jackie Chan, although they do include some interesting omissions and changes from the American version.

The editors of the American version of Rumble in the Bronx started with the Asian version and then reshuffled a few scenes and removed others entirely. Most of the changes appear to have been made to tighten up scenes, to emphasize the action and keep the momentum moving forward at all times. In most cases this only involves removing a fraction of a second from the beginning of a shot. In other cases, it involves removing entire shots or snipping several seconds of dialog from the end of a scene.

For example, during a motorcycle race over the hoods, roofs, and trunks of parked cars, the Asian version includes several shots of the cyclists having trouble negotiating the jump from one car to the next. However, in the American version, the cyclists have no trouble at all. They crush one windshield after another without any obstacles. In the Asian version, though, one motorcycle drops to the pavement, while the other cyclist stops and retraces her tracks before leaping over a van. The effect in this case is relatively minor but the cumulative effect of changes and deletions such as these has the effect of making the American version more cartoonish, less real.

Seconds are frequently shaved off of action sequences. Even the by now famous scene where Jackie Chan leaps from the top level of a multi-storied parking garage to an apartment building fire escape--across the street!--isnít spared from the editorís scissors. The Asian version gives us four separate shots of Jackie leaping and landing. The American version only gives us about 2Ĺ leaps/shots. Likewise when Jackie gets run over by a hovercraft, the Asian version gives us three shots of the hovercraft striking and rolling over him, while the American version gives us just 2.

Other changes were made for different reasons. For example, when Jackie mugs in front of a two-way mirror at his uncleís grocery store, the Asian version gives him a couple more opportunities to strike poses and twist his face. Apparently, someone decided the American audience might not buy all of Jackieís mugging, unlike his Asian fans.

Jackie's uncle and aunt perform a ceremonial dance at the wedding reception.

One of the most interesting deletions comes at the wedding of Jackieís uncle. The Asian version contains a scene where his uncle and new aunt dress in traditional Chinese outfits and perform a short ceremonial dance. The effect is to make his new aunt seem more realistic, showing her concern for her new husband and his religious beliefs and family traditions. The American version deletes this short scene entirely, robbing the character of some depth. But because she completely disappears from view for the remainder of both versions soon after this scene, the effect is relatively inconsequential.

The most important deletions involve the grocery store and the gang members who terrorize it. The Asian version includes two additional scenes where gang members or other thugs rob the store and plunder its shelves. By including these sequences, the threat posed to the store by the gang members becomes more harrowing and disturbing.

Jackie's girlfriend kicks over the biker gang's motorcycles.

Only a couple shots appear in the American version but not the Asian one. One of these shots is a curious omission from the Asian release. While Jackie and his girl friend run from the motorcycle gang, she stops and kicks over their motorcycles. Itís gutsy, resourceful move. But the Asian version doesnít show us this brief chase scene. The American version also includes some additional shots during the opening credits. Simply showing Jackieís airplane land, the shots donít really serve a strong purpose and actually waste some screen time. The Asian version integrates the opening credits sequence into the drive from the airport into the city. This sequence features several additional bits of dialog between Jackie and his uncle. Several other conversations in the movie, go on for several seconds longer than the American version. (I wish I could tell you something about the dialog that got cut, but the Asian version isnít subtitled and I donít speak a word of Cantonese. Sorry.)

The end of the Asian version also features Jackie Chan singing over the closing credits, while the American version features the rock band Ash singing "Kung Fu." Iíll leave it up to you to decide the relative merits of Jackieís singing versus Ash.

Download a 14 second excerpt of Jackie Chan singing the Rumble in the Bronx song [77K, WAV format].

Photo Credits: New Line Home Video.