Brandon (Brandon Lee) and Michael (Michael Wong) are best friends, but live very diverse lives. Brandon works in a scrap yard by day and in a nightclub with his girlfriend May (Regina Kent) in the evenings, making an honest living, but his pal is somewhat different, he works for gangsters and tonight has ordered the death of a young drugs courier for trying to skim off some of the cash he was carrying. So while Brandon lives life on the straight and narrow, taking care to look after his fellow citizens such as for example a little girl whose family leaves her behind at the bus stop, there are signs Michael could be a bad influence...
Legacy of Rage represented Brandon Lee’s first starring role, and though he was reluctant to make films in Hong Kong that’s where this hailed from, but it was as if he was consciously not following in his megastar father Bruce Lee’s footsteps by taking a part that was far more contemporary to the nineteen-eighties than it was to Bruce’s heyday. This meant an action flick far more like what Arnold Schwarzenegger was blazing a trail with, a reliance on guns and fights over with in a couple of punches, and then there was the issue of the concentration on firearms over fists anyway, a sure sign times had changed. Lee appearing in a John Woo Heroic Bloodshed movie had a certain appeal, however.
But Mr Woo was nowhere to be seen, this had a different talent at the helm in Ronny Yu, who seemed to be rather anonymous here, alas, putting his cast and crew through some very by the numbers paces only distinguished by the vigour of the occasional explosion and the way the plot was quite happy to dispose of as many characters as possible before the end credits rolled by. Indeed, though this started as your typical Hong Kong close friends thrown into turmoil thriller, it quickly transformed itself into a prison film when Brandon is chucked in a cell for a crime he did not commit, though only a few people are aware of that fact, and he is not one of them.
Therefore the plot actually took place over a number of years, yet in spite of that never had the feel of an epic, not cheap exactly but nobody was pushing any boundaries back here and all the jail business was very familiar, taking up as it did not so much Brandon’s attempt to clear his name, more an attempt to defy the authorities by staging a breakout and escaping to gain his own form of justice, i.e. murdering the man who put him there. What we know and he doesn’t is that the duplicitous Michael was that man behind the frame up in the first place because he wanted to get acquainted with May in a more intimate fashion, something she resists not least as by the stage Brandon is banged up she is knocked up, and we’re supposed to feel sad the kid won’t grow up with a father.
Maybe an echo there of Lee’s home life and absence of his actual father, but that was about it for real world parallels for this was more keen on getting a gun in his hands and letting rip with the ammo. What was odd was that his hand to hand combat skills were not much in evidence, and when Bolo Yeung showed up in the nightclub as a gangster looking for trouble you anticipated a massive punch-up that just didn’t happen, making many lament of the waste of an opportunity that was just asking to be taken advantage of. So what you had were the shootiebangs and lots of them, at least in the final act with the storyline ensuring the bodies would be littering the screen in a surprisingly perfunctory collection of would be heartstring-tugging moments that were too blatantly manipulative to convince. But if it was the action you were interested in, what was on offer was fair if nothing that would shake the genre to its foundations. Sadly, Brandon Lee didn’t find a really great role until the one that tragically killed him. Music by Richard Yuen.
Hong Kong-born director of action and fantasy. Began directing in the early 80s, and made films such as the historical actioner Postman Strikes Back (with Chow Yun-Fat), Chase Ghost Seven Powers and the heroic bloodshed flick China White. The two Bride with White Hair films – both released in 1993 – were hugely popular fantasy adventures, which helped Yu secure his first American film, the kids film Warriors of Virtue. Yu then helmed Bride of Chucky, the fourth and best Child's Play movie, the Brit action film The 51st State and the horror face-off Freddy Vs Jason. He later returned to Asia to helm the likes of Saving General Yang.