Story by Leo Zhang Li-Jia
Screenplay by Cui Si-Wei and Erica Xia-Hou
Directed by Leo Zhang Li-Jia
In the climax of Bleeding Steel, Jackie Chan battles goth cyborgs on a Star Destroyer in the futuristic world of 2020 to save his dead daughter who was revitalized with magic blood and a robot heart. That is just the tip of the iceberg here, folks! Moviepass has become a blessing, enabling me to go catch the various Asian flicks that sporadically appear unannounced at the local multiplex for a few days before vanishing into the ether. Chasing the Dragon, Never Say Die, and The Thousand Faces of Dunjia were all benefits of this, and when Bleeding Steel popped up in the listings while I was trying to find times for The Shape of Water, I knew merman love could wait a day! And thank goodness it did, because Bleeding Steel is one of the most bonkers films I have seen all year, it delights in being insane, continually going over the top and then continuing to climb and climb. I filled two pages of notes and then gave up because things were happening too fast to keep up with, and just enjoyed the ride!
Jackie Chan is a super cop named Lin, who leaves his young daughter Xixi dying in the hospital (how many kids has Jackie buried in films now?) because he needs to lead the police escort of a mad scientist named Dr. James, who has switched sides and brought the magic biotech he was working on along with him. Despite there being around 50ish heavily armed police officers, that is not even slightly enough. The villain Andre appears (Callan Mulvey, from Captain America Winter Soldier and Batman v Superman) along with four goons dressed as Cobra B.A.T.S., armed with high powered weapons and a robot snake that plants bombs (and is never seen again or even acknowledged!) Andre is dressed like Emperor Palpatine, bald with pale white skin but his entire jaw is painted black (probably from chewing all the scenery!) He randomly fires grenades at the cops, and when a repeatedly shot Jackie Chan tries to run him over, Andre starts shoving the car! Jackie Chan does manage to blow up Andre, but Chan’s daughter dies alone, Jackie almost dies, every cop except Su (Erica Xia-Hou Qi-Yu) is dead, and the scientist is mortally wounded.
13 years later, it is the far future of 2020 (which means the prior part took place in 2007!), and a writer is praised for his new book, Bleeding Steel. The book’s plot seems to follow what would have happened if the scientist put his technology in Jackie Chan’s dead daughter, which we soon find out is what happened (and it is obvious, so this isn’t a spoiler) That leads to the author becoming a target. First by a hot lady hooker that drugs him (and we then find out the hot lady hooker was a man named Leeson (Show Lo Chi-Cheung from Mermaid) dressed as woman out to rob the author. Then an Evil Goth Lady (Tess Haubrich having more fun than you could possibly imagine here) and more Cobra B.A.T.S. invade, demanding how the author knows what he knows. The B.A.T.S. have laser guns now, too, because this is the future. Then finally Jackie Chan in a mask bursts in to fight them and demand how the author knows what he knows. Through all the fighting (and Evil Goth Lady’s spinning glow knives), Leeson escapes with the information, which just points to a mysterious 18 year old girl named Nancy (Nana Ou-Yang Na-Na) in Australia, that we’ve already all figured out is just Xixi still alive somehow.
At this point Andre is also still alive but horribly burned, so he has a metal dome on his head and a cyborg eye, which works with his white skin to make him look like a Borg Mr. Freeze. The secret base of these villains is a flying Star Destroyer aircraft buzzing around who knows where, filled with research scientists doing weird biotech research that probably doesn’t have government approval. He wants the magic blood because it will give him healing abilities so he’ll look less like a Borg and more like just a regular cyborg goth. Xixi/Nancy has this magic blood (the “bleeding steel” of the title) that gives her healing abilities, as well as a robotic heart that lets her pump the blood and is more advanced than Andre’s robotic heart.
Nancy is having bad dreams due to the magic blood the dying Dr. James implanted in her containing both his and her memories, but the operation caused her to lose all her memories, so she is confused and scared. Like everyone does, she goes to a witch to get help with her nightmares. A witch who is dressed in a tribal witch doctor costume, with a midget assistant, and an apartment packed to the gills with every witch-looking thing the props department had access too. The witch hypnotizes Nancy so she can record her dreams and sell them to the book author from earlier, in the weirdest witch-related con I’ve ever seen on film. The neighborhood the witch lives in is very bad, we know because of all the graffiti and hookers, and because basically every male who lives in it tries to rape Nancy! This leads to a long action sequence where Leeson shows up and burns his butt and has his pants fall down, and Nancy kicks a guy in the balls multiple times.
Did I mention this movie makes multiple Jackie Chan jokes despite starring Jackie Chan? No way this movie isn’t self-aware!
The witch doctor sends Nancy to see a specialist, who is an even more powerful witch, so of course he’s dressed like Johnny Depp in a Pirates movie and helps align Nancy’s two souls before the Evil Goths arrive to kill him and cause another fight sequence complete with random magic tricks being used as fighting props (awesome!) and ends with Evil Goth Lady and Jackie Chan battling it out on the roof of the Sydney Opera House. But if you think that is the end, it is only the beginning, as Bleeding Steel goes into bleeding hyperdrive!
There is plenty of things I didn’t even get to. Jackie Chan wakes up from being injured to find his daughter is alive and knows an Australian orphanage director by name who will help him hide his daughter and let him work as a maintenance guy to spy over her. This is the first thing he says when he finds out his daughter is still alive! Leeson puts an unconscious Nancy in a stroller and puts a pacifier in her mouth. The film has an opening title sequence and then many minutes later does the rest of the credits. Nancy beats up some racist Australian girls. Leeson has two different secrets that neither of which make sense if you think about them at all. Jackie Chan has a secret spy gadget house. The final fight on the Star Destroyer against the now nude evil goth cyborg Andre is won by the most ridiculous thing happening to Jackie Chan, I’m not even going to spoil it, just wait, it is beyond nuts! And so much more…
I am so glad I saw this, I was expecting the run of the mill boringish Chinese film that took itself too seriously redeemed by some action pieces, and instead I got the most campy thing I’ve seen in a long time in a theatrical release. When the evil goths started showing up, I literally changed positions in the seat to a more relaxed on as the camp began. Every time the film was in danger of becoming a real movie, they’d toss in more crazy. If you love bad cinema, if you love weird cinema, if you love campy cinema, if you love unexpected cinema, this is the most amazing thing in theaters right now. It’s tailor made to be featured on TarsTarkas.NET, and I’m totally taking the bait!
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