Looking for the next terrific Jackie Chan film? Unfortunately, you should pass by Bleeding Steel. A strange cyber punk sci-fi action film, Jackie stars as a cop trying to stop a mysterious cyborg from capturing his estranged daughter who has a mechanical heart and super blood that makes her heal fast. The film struggles with time, pace, and basic exposition and yet is still weirdly entertaining but not for good reasons. Chan's still good for a few impressive stunts, but that's about all this film has to offer. Lionsgate brings Bleeding Steel to Blu-ray with an okay video transfer and an audio mix that has some dialogue clarity issues. Bleeding Steel has a couple good moments, but the plot is a near-incomprehensible mess. Skip It.
Remember when Jackie Chan could do no wrong? There was a great period there from the late 80s and through the 90s where almost every Jackie Chan movie was an action/comedy gem. By the time the Rush Hour franchise petered out, things started to slip. It certainly isn't age or the numerous injuries the action star endured that are the problem - it's the overall quality of the scripts and uneven direction that repeatedly sinks his latest outings. After the excellent The Foreigner, I'd hoped that Chan had found his kung-fu mojo again, but unfortunately, Bleeding Steel is proof that the man is willing to sign up for just about anything - no matter how flat-out bonkers it may be.
Usually, at this point, I try to do a one or two paragraph recap to give you all a sense of what the film's plot is without giving away any spoilers. With Bleeding Steel, I honestly don't really know where to start as the film is a near-incomprehensible mess -- but I'm going to do my best. Believe me, this isn't going to be easy.
As his daughter is dying in a hospital bed from Leukemia, special agent Lin Dong (Jackie Chan) is called in to protect and transport bio-scientist Dr. James (Kim Gyngell) to a safe location. When a powerful cyborg by the name of Andre (Callan Mulvey) and his cybernetic henchmen ambush the convoy, Lin is wounded and nearly killed saving Dr. James. Years later, Lin shadows his teenage daughter Nancy (Na-Na OuYang) who was given a cybernetic heart and an advanced bio-roid that enables her to heal quickly. He watches from afar protecting her from Andre's agents who tacks her aboard his spaceship.
Hopefully at some point reading that plot breakdown you started laughing because it was about 10 minutes into the film when my logical center gave up and I couldn't help but laugh. This bizarre cyberpunk sci-fi action film feels like all of the Resident Evil movies and generic Anime character cliches smashed into one film. You have to suppose the story takes place in the future, but it's impossible to tell in what future when all of the technology looks like it came from last week's Best Buy sale catalog. Where the film takes place is also a bit of a mystery as it interchangeably jumps from Hong Kong and Sydney Australia on a whim leaving you to guess where the hell you are. When (in terms of continuity) things take place is also problematic as flashbacks have a tendency to float in and out without warning -- making you wonder if you didn't accidentally hit the chapter skip button with your rear end. Like I said, Bleeding Steel is a mess. But even at it's weirdest worst, it's kinda entertaining.
Even as much of the plot lacks any sense of cognitive cohesion, Jackie Chan gives the movie everything he's got. Even into his 60s after decades of rough mileage and physical damage, the man can always be counted on for a good stunt. The opening shootout is a doozy as it's difficult to know what is happening and who is shooting who, but Chan is still out there running, jumping, and sliding all over the place. When it comes to fast-flying fisticuffs, Chan can still keep up with the youngsters in the cast and bring the same level of humorous intensity to the moment - even when humor is very much out of place.
By the time we get to the android bad guy's super spaceship -- yes he has a spaceship that apparently no one ever sees flying around -- you're either on board for this weird movie or you're not. Even if you're having a good time with Bleeding Steel, the movie still feels like a mishmash of different films that were cobbled together with some very loose editing. Little in the film makes any genuine sense and the story has an over-reliance on out of place flashbacks to fill in essential exposition. This is not a good movie. At all. However, I was weirdly entertained by it. From the nonsensical plot to the great action set pieces to Jackie Chan's magnetic energy, somehow this movie isn't a complete bore and leaves you in an entertained stupified state. While I hope Chan goes back to being an unrelenting badass as he was in The Foreigner, diehard Jackie fans should get a kick out of this silly mess of a sci-fi action movie. But if you're looking for the classic Jackie Chan action fest, you should spend more time exploring his deep catalog.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Bleeding Steel arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate in a single disc Blu-ray + Digital set. Pressed onto a Region A BD-50 disc, the disc is housed in an eco-friendly Blu-ray case with identical slipcover. The disc loads to trailers for other Lionsgate releases before arriving at an animated main menu with traditional navigation options.
Bleeding Steel suffers from an over-processed 1080p 2.39:1 transfer. Shot digitally, when the image is stable and at its best, it exposes terrific details with rich vibrant colors and a great sense of image depth. Unfortunately, this is not a uniform viewing experience. Frequently the image looks like it was sped up to get a little extra punch out of action sequences and car chases resulting in a lot of motion blur and some pixelation. Heavy CGI sequences are often met with softness and loss of image clarity resulting in a flat drab image that also comes packed with skewed colors. Disjointed editing doesn't help matters as the camera frequently cuts to alternate angles with different lighting schemes. An action scene with Jackie Chan fighting on top of the Sydney Opera House is a key example of shots not matching up leading to various visual anomalies. Banding is also apparent. Some scenes are truly spectacular with great details and everything you could want from a modern piece of filmmaking, but there are numerous instances where this is a pretty rough looking film that is a victim of too much post-production tinkering for its own good.
Bleeding Steel also has a rather odd English/Mandarin DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix. I did some reading after viewing the film and it would appear that the audio mix was altered for the English markets dropping a lot of the Mandarin in favor of English dubbing. As a result, spoken dialogue can be a bit of a mess. One minute you can hear everything perfectly fine, the next voices drop out and you are forced to crank the volume only to be met by a loud noise effect that forces you to crash the volume back down. It was frustrating, to say the least, and you pretty much have to keep your thumb on the volume at all times. About the only thing in this mix that works is sound effects. During the big action bits where no one is saying anything, the mix is great with terrific spacing and a nice sense of imaging to coincide with what is happening on screen. Like its video presentation, this is a serviceable audio track that gets the job done, but it's still very rough and inconsistent.
I go into every Jackie Chan movie hopeful for one thing - fun. More often than not I get that. Bleeding Steel is hardly a good movie let alone even a decent film to showcase the physical presence Jackie Chan brings to his films. However, because the film is such a weird cyberpunk mess of a sci-fi action film, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't entertained, albeit probably for the wrong reasons. Just don't go into it expecting anything great -- if you go into it at all. If you're looking for classic Jackie, you're not going to find it here and probably should look elsewhere. Lionsgate brings Bleeding Steel to Blu-ray with a rough transfer and an inconsistent audio mix to match. While I enjoyed myself, I can't honestly recommend Bleeding Steel. It's probably best that you Skip It.