The Big Brawl (1980)

Action, Comedy
Jackie Chan, Kristine DeBell, José Ferrer, Mako
A young Asian American martial artist is forced to participate in a brutal formal street-fight competition.
  • N/A Released:
  • 07 Sep 2004 DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:
  • Robert Clouse, Robert Clouse Writer:
  • Robert Clouse Director:
  • N/A Website:

All subtitles:



Slow but good.7/10

Jackie Chan's first movie for the U.S. was good but failed business wise due to a flawed marketing campaign. However, the film had it's good bits. Jackie looked rather silly during the gangster fighting scenes. This was the director's fault. Jackie made an effort to act but the other actors didn't, besides that the film was quite entertaining and so was the fight scenes but they are quite slow.
Not bad6/10
Jackie plays Jerry Kwan, a Chinese living in 1930s America. His father is forced to pay the Mafia protection, and Jerry won't stand for it, picking a fight with some Mafia-goons. The Mafia see Jerry's potential as a fighter, and kidnap his brother's fiance, forcing Jerry to fight for them in the Battle Creek Brawl: an anything goes, winner-takes-all, fighting competition.

That's pretty much it plot wise, but in a Jackie Chan movie, the faster we get the plot out of the way, the happier we are (although, another pointed out the depiction of openly racist, 1930s America, I did think that was somewhat interesting). The fights and stunts are decent, but not up to Jackie's usual standards - he was forced to work with pro-wrestlers, etc unworthy to work with the Chan-man, and the stunt-coordinator was only a first time stunt-director, and had only performed stunts in three other movies. The fights during the Battle Creek Brawl really highlight the difference between Jackie and his much-larger, slower opponents - while Jackie impresses us with his speed and skill, the other guys are trying impress with sheer-power, and it doesn't work very well.

As his first American movie, its not too bad, and definitely better than his second attempt in America with "The Protector", but I would expect a lot more from Jackie, and the director Robert Clouse (who also directed Enter the Dragon).

6/10
Jackie Chan in a dilemma6/10
"After the enormous success in Hong Kong of Snake in the Eagle's Shadow and Drunken Master, Jackie Chan found himself in a dilemma. He was still under contract to the inept director Lo Wei, who was trying to make Chan into the next Bruce Lee. Chan had long resented trying to be molded into Lee, and with his recent success, he thought he had proved that other forms of martial arts films could do well. However, Lo thought the same formula he had used with Lee on Fist of Fury would work for Chan, and didn't hesitate to keep using it over and over, even though the dismal box office returns told him otherwise. Eventually, Chan walked out on Lo in disgust during the filming of Fearless Hyena 2 and signed with the Golden Harvest studio. Chan thought Golden Harvest's success would free him from Lo's clutches, but Lo had some tricks up his sleeve. He was connected with the Triads (Hong Kong gangsters) and sent thugs to the set to threaten Chan. Eventually, things got so bad that Chan's manager Willie Chan suggested that he travel to America for his first starring role in the States.

On the surface, things looked good. The movie was being backed by the Warner Bros. studio and would have a budget bigger than any of Chan's Hong Kong movies, and was going to be directed by Robert Clouse, who had helmed the most popular kung fu film of all time, Enter the Dragon. Thematically, it was to have contained many elements from the Hollywood Golden Age (films from the 1930's and 40's) that Chan admired so much. In fact, the film was pitched to Chan as an "Eastern Western" -- something that was a dream idea of Chan's. However, one thing lurked beneath the surface -- something that would make Chan miserable and turn this film into the horrible mish-mash that it is. Everyone involved -- the producers, the director, the studio -- wanted Chan to become the thing he had run away from in Hong Kong. They wanted him to become the next Bruce Lee.

The film's shadow of a plot revolves around Chan inadvertently putting the proverbial monkey wrench into gangster Jose Ferrer's plans. Eventually, Ferrer puts the squeeze on Chan's family and Chan finds himself competing in a bare-knuckle fighting tournament to save the family business (which is, of course, a laundry). Really, the particulars don't matter. This movie's horrible from beginning to end. The script, the cinematography, the acting -- they're all bad. Probably the biggest disappointment are the fight sequences. No one on the set allowed Chan any input at all, and as such, well, they're just pathetic. One of the movie's major sequences has Chan battling the gangsters during a roller-skating race. Now, this could actually be good; anyone who's seen Rollerball could attest to that. But in this movie, it comes off as what it is -- a bunch of people who can barely skate attempting to create a fight scene under the supervison of a director who has no idea of what his star can do.

This may (and I stress may) be worth a look for major Chan fans who want to see his US debut. But, honestly, this kind of movie is better left forgotten.

And to wrap up the long-winded story I've set up in this review, Chan was able to go back to Hong Kong via some help from old-school star Jimmy Wang Yu, who had his own Triad connections. He was eventually able to make his Eastern Western (albeit twenty years later) with Shanghai Noon. After the dismal failure of the film, Robert Clouse found himself regulated to doing B-list martial arts movies... and, in perhaps one of the most pathetic attempts to cover ones' tracks, later stated in the documentary The Deadliest Art that Chan was "one of the best people he had ever worked with."
Jackie Chan's failed US debut is quite fun and better than it's reputation5/10
This Jackie Chan vehicle,his first attempt to break into the American market,generally has a bad reputation. Jackie himself hated myself the film,one of the reasons being that he had little to no control over the action. It was also a box office flop,despite it regrouping some of the team that made Enter The Dragon.

However,The Big Brawl is not all that bad. Indeed at first it seems that it does not at all deserve it's critics. Lalo Schifrin's main theme is exceptionally groovy,the 1030s Chicage setting is reasonably well evoked and there is one early fight scene,in which Jackie defeats three baddies seemingly by accident,that,although a little slow,does come across as being classic Jackie,combining fighting and slapstick typically well. As the film goes on it loses interest somewhat,especially as the final third is just Jackie fighting a bunch of wrestler types in the Big Brawl of the title. Nonetheless, if you don't expect much and/or have not seen many other of Chan's movie fights,they are fairly entertaining,as he defeats his opponents with his skill and agility, and despite the slow choreography,he does perform a few great moves and dangerous moments.

Elsewhere Mako is great fun as Jackie's uncle/teacher and his training scenes with Jackie are fun. It's also interesting to see Jackie in a supposedly sexual relationship with his girlfriend {something he normally shied away from}and here are also a few good laughs involving some inept gangsters. The Big Brawl is seriously flawed,but it really isn't bad. It's certainly better than The Protector!
Average Jackie Chan vehicle set in the 30s in which the Mob forces him to fight fierce combats5/10
This exciting movie is crammed of action-packed, spectacular fights, comedy ,and breathtaking stunt-work . Jackie Chan as young Asian American martial artist expert is top notch , he is one army man fighting a group of heinous criminals and as always he makes his own stunts . As he is forced to participate in a brutal formal street-fight competition .Chan along with his girlfriend (Kristine DeBell) seek fame and fortune in 1930s America when he enters an all-comers martial arts competition , the ¨Champion fight , Battle Creek , the Brawl of this Century¨, forced by Mob that has kidnapped the brother's fiancee (Rosalind Chao) , despite the opposition of his father and several imposing opponents. This time Chan join forces with his uncle , a martial arts master (Mako) , both of whom are taken to Texas to participate in a free-for-all match .

This Chop-Socky displays action-packed, thrills,fast-paced and wild fighting images. Incredible stunts and brief comic touches, as usual , the picture is regularly constructed and contains some flaws and gaps . This is a passable action movie distinguished by ferocious sequences , and packs silly sense of humor as well as subsequent Jackie's entries; however being hampered by mediocre cinematography which is necessary a good remastering . In this outing Jackie teamed up to prestigious secondary named Mako and some veteran star as Jose Ferrer . Jackie Chan's failed at Box-office in this USA debut , however , being quite amusing and better than its reputation . Chan is a hard-working actor and director throughout his long and varied career .He went on playing ¨Cannoball¨ , ¨The protector¨ and "Rumble in the Bronx", until getting all American success with ¨Shangai Kid¨ . Of course , his big hits were ¨The Police story¨ series that won the Golden Horse Award, a Chinese version of the Oscar , the first was titled ¨Police story(1985)¨ directed by the same Chan , it was a perfect action film for enthusiastic of the genre ; the following was ¨Police story 2(1988)¨also pretty violent and with abundant humor touches. It's followed by this ¨Supercop¨ or ¨Police story 3¨ and finally, ¨Police story IV : Crime story.

This medium-budgeted and ordinary Kung-Fu actioner is middling realized by Robert Clouse , an expert on Chop-Socky movies and he directed Bruce Lee's last film , Game of Death (1978) . Robert Clouse is known best for his most successful film : Enter the Dragon (1973) and Clouse was a director who worked mainly in the visuals of cinema, owing to the fact that he was completely deaf, he employed assistant directors who could verify that actors had delivered their lines correctly. After being contracted by Warner Bros. and Golden Harvest to direct Enter the Dragon (1973), Clouse was escalated into the realm of profitable filmmakers . But, unlike others in this category, doors in Hollywood were not entirely open to him and the failed with ¨The big brawl¨. Clouse was hired by Warner Brothers Pictures to direct Black Belt (1974) . The film proved to be a moderate success, but was seen more as a vehicle for Enter the Dragon (1973) protege 'Jim Kelly'. After that , he directed vehicles for Samo Hung , Jim Kelly , Richard Norton as ¨Gynkata ¨ , Yul Brynner in ¨The last warrior¨ one of the best films of his long career , Cynthia Rothrock as ¨China O'Brian I and II ¨ and other B films .