Review: 'Bleeding Steel' feels like an attempt to ride on the success of 'Star Wars'

Marcus Goh
Contributor
PHOTO: Golden Village Pictures

If you took every famous Hollywood science fiction movie and tossed it in a blender, you’d get “Bleeding Steel”. Scorpion kicks, Darth Vader-lookalikes, laser guns, capes, and soldiers that look like black Stormtroopers (with designs tweaked just far enough to avoid copyright issues). In fact, there’s even a massive spaceship complete with gigantic engines that looks like the lovechild of the Millennium Falcon and a Super Star Destroyer, which is incongruous when you consider that the film ostensibly takes place in the present day, and literally no one else possesses a spaceship.

Granted, there’s lots of blood (it’s amazing how much blood loss the characters can suffer) and plenty of steel science fiction robots and equipment, so at least “Bleeding Steel” is straightforward about its content. The action flick features Jackie Chan doing… well, Jackie Chan-like things. He’s out to save someone/something from an antagonist that looks like an unmasked Darth Vader. It’s true that nobody has a monopoly on pasty white half-masked villains with hyper advanced technology, but the fact that “Bleeding Steel” is released so close to “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” makes you acutely aware of design similarities.

In an effort at what seems to be creating a globalised setting, perfunctory non-Asians are tossed in, complete with stereotypical accents, in an attempt to show how the movie takes place all over the world. But it’s startlingly clear that this terrible attempt at inclusiveness is merely to show how “up-to-date” the film is, or some such objective that look mandated by commercial factors rather than artistic ones.

PHOTO: Golden Village Pictures

The action scenes are fairly fun to watch and look expensive, but they’re not evocative or motivated. Like everything else in the film, it feels tossed in for the sake of aping popular movie stereotypes, perhaps in the hopes that people will talk about how similar “Bleeding Steel” is to so-and-so movie and hence draw crowds by virtue of that similarity. The scenes feel derivative of other movies you’ve seen before, and reek of unoriginality rather than giving you a sense of familiarity.

In fact, that’s the major issue with the film — its lack of originality. “Bleeding Steel” is so afraid to put its own spin on what could have been a unique and entertaining premise. Instead, it keeps trying to do what seems popular in other films and ends up being this Frankenstein’s monster of cheesy movie tropes.

Lin’s (Jackie Chan) ludicrous blood loss is also an issue. The film isn’t gory, but it has characters spouting blood like fountains. It gets so exaggerated that you wonder how it can be possible for his character to endure so many bloody injuries and still be alive. The filmmakers don’t seem to understand moderation, because everything has to be pushed to the extreme in a desperate effort to keep you engaged in the film.

Show Luo also showcases the full extent of his acting ability, which is nothing. He plays Leeson, a painfully stereotypical character who tries so hard to look cool that you just want him to stop trying so that everyone can stop suffering (him included). He ends the film with a scene in English, with the caveat that he can’t speak English decently at all. For an actor with the name “Show”, he certainly can’t star well in one.

If there’s one highlight of the film, it’s that it at least tries to draw an emotional connection with a father-daughter story. It falls flat on its face with melodramatic flashbacks, of course, since there’s never any subtlety in execution. It also comes out of nowhere and is carried out with the objective of manipulating you into empathising with the main characters. However, it’s perhaps the only part of the film that has some semblance of sincerity to it, so it bears a mention.

PHOTO: Golden Village Pictures

“Bleeding Steel” lacks heart, which is ironic given the plot. It could have been a memorable and better film given the proper execution, but it relies too much on drawing connections with existing popular franchises rather than building its own identity. As it stands, it’s a silly, pointless, action film that’s there to fill the requisite Chinese action movie slot for the holidays.

Should you watch it at all? Okay.

Should you watch this if it’s free? If you like action.

Score: 1.9/5

Secret ending? No.

Running time: 110 minutes (~1.75 hours)

“Bleeding Steel” is a Chinese science fiction action film.

It is directed and written by Leo Zhang. It stars Jackie Chan (Lin Dong), Show Luo (Leeson), Ouyang Nana (Nancy), Callan Mulvey (Andrew), and Erica Xia-Hou (Su).

“Bleeding Steel” opens in cinemas:
– 21 December, 2017 (Singapore)

PHOTO: Golden Village Pictures

Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter, having written for “Lion Mums”, “Crimewatch”, “Incredible Tales”, and “Police & Thief”. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. You can find him on social media as Optimarcus and on his site. The views expressed are his own.

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