Director Leo Zhang’s kitchen-sink sci-fi action film Bleeding Steel borrows from countless other movies. Most notably, from the Western canon, there’s a villain with a robot heart who’s the spitting image of Locutus of Borg (poor Captain Picard!), and a fleet of futuristic soldiers fighting for the bad guys that’s got Starship Troopers written all over it. Bleeding Steel’s most tried-and-true element, however, is Hong Kong cinema’s secret weapon, Jackie Chan. Here, Chan plays Lin Dong, an elite cop (sounds familiar) who’s finally trying to capture a half–machine man (wait, what?) who’s been on the lam for a decade.
Blending retro 1980s sci-fi tropes (heavy on the Paul Verhoeven) with a slick style and bright colors, the film at least succeeds in entertainment value, even if the script is confounding and there’s no meat or moral at the center. As evidence, let me present the epic opening fight between Dong and his team and Andre (Callan Mulvey), the pale-faced robot man with regenerative limbs. There’s a moment where Dong slides on his butt on the wet pavement while holding two cocked guns. This slide goes on for about twenty yards. That…is probably the longest butt slide in cinematic history. I thought perhaps that Zhang was looping like a GIF. He was not.
The closest comparison for this film is 2017’s joyfully schlocky Beyond Skyline, though that boasted far more original set pieces. Bleeding Steel seems content to rehash old ones, cutting and pasting Chan into familiar scenes, with the welcome exception of one battle that takes place atop the Sydney Opera House — but I’ll be damned if I could figure out why or how they got there.
Directed by Leo Zhang
Opens July 6, Cinema Village
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This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 3, 2018