Tzi Ma

Rapid Fire (1992, Dwight H. Little)

Even with his silly, slicked back eighties cop hair, Raymond J. Barry is easily the best actor in Rapid Fire. His first appearance is delightful, as it washes away some of the film’s already very bad taste.

Rapid Fire is an action movie without any good action. Director Little’s terrible with actors and composition, but he also has a lousy crew. Ric Waite’s photography, while mildly competent, looks like he’s shooting the picture through bathwater. Gib Jaffe’s editing loses characters and he can’t figure out how to edit star Brandon Lee’s fight scenes. It’s okay, I guess, since Little can’t figure out how to shoot them. If the draw of Rapid Fire is supposed to be Lee’s martial arts abilities, actually showing them as something other than editing tricks would be helpful.

Besides Barry, only Tzi Ma makes any good acting impression… but it might be because Ma starts out opposite Nick Mancuso. Either Little told Mancuso to do a Sonny Corleone impression or Mancuso came up with it himself. Every moment Mancuso is on screen, whether playing with his hair or staring off into space, sears the reasoning parts of the brain. It’s laughably bad.

As for Lee? He’s not very good. It’s partially Little’s direction–and a lot of it is Alan B. McElroy’s terrible script–but he’s still not good.

Speaking of McElroy, he works numerous Chinese epithet to show Rapid Fire is socially conscious.

It’s an awful movie.

And Christopher Young’s smooth jazz score doesn’t help.



Directed by Dwight H. Little; screenplay by Alan B. McElroy, based on a story by Cindy Cirile and McElroy; director of photography, Ric Waite; edited by Gib Jaffe; music by Christopher Young; production designer, Ron Foreman; produced by Robert Lawrence; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Brandon Lee (Jake Lo), Powers Boothe (Mace Ryan), Nick Mancuso (Antonio Serrano), Raymond J. Barry (Agent Frank Stewart), Kate Hodge (Karla Withers), Tzi Ma (Kinman Tau), Tony Longo (Brunner), Michael Paul Chan (Carl Chang), Dustin Nguyen (Paul Yang), Brigitta Stenberg (Rosalyn), Basil Wallace (Agent Wesley) and Al Leong (Minh).

Dante’s Peak (1997, Roger Donaldson)

Dante’s Peak came in the slight post-Twister disaster movie resurgence–and might have helped end it–but it really doesn’t know how to be a disaster movie.

Leslie Bohem’s script film follows Jaws‘s plot structure–no one listens to Pierce Brosnan’s roguish geologist (has Brosnan ever been asked to do an American accent, it seems to be part of his persona to never do one) until it’s too late–only replacing Richard Dreyfuss with Linda Hamilton as sidekick. Romance develops and Brosnan’s bachelor warms quickly to Hamilton’s two really annoying kids. They aren’t really annoying until the volcano, which means at least they’re tolerable for an hour.

When disaster does strike, it’s amusing to watch all the friendly neighbors try to kill each other to get onto the highway faster–after the movie opens saying it’s the second-best place in the country to live. Maybe in the first they’d help each other.

It’s probably Hamilton’s best film role as an actor. She’s not asked to do much (it’s a little unbelievable she could put up with her kids at the end, or her evil mother-in-law, boringly played by Elizabeth Hoffman).

The film takes place in a rural mountain town and–shockingly–never tries to show racial diversity among the town population. Nor does it try to make anyone likable; watching the disaster doesn’t encourage much emotional response. It’s boring.

Donaldson’s direction is mediocre at best (he’s not an action director) but the visual effects are good.



Directed by Roger Donaldson; written by Leslie Bohem; director of photography, Andrzej Bartkowiak; edited by Howard E. Smith, Conrad Buff IV and Tina Hirsch; music by John Frizzell; production designer, J. Dennis Washington; produced by Gale Anne Hurd and Joseph Singer; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Pierce Brosnan (Harry Dalton), Linda Hamilton (Rachel Wando), Charles Hallahan (Paul Dreyfus), Jamie Renée Smith (Lauren Wando), Jeremy Foley (Graham Wando), Elizabeth Hoffman (Ruth), Grant Heslov (Greg, USGS Crew), Kirk Trutner (Terry, USGS Crew), Arabella Field (Nancy, USGS Crew), Tzi Ma (Stan, USGS Crew), Brian Reddy (Les Worrell), Lee Garlington (Dr. Jane Fox), Bill Bolender (Sheriff Turner), Carole Androsky (Mary Kelly) and Peter Jason (Norman Gates).

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