Bleeding Steel

It’s a bad day on the streets of Hong Kong for Special Forces agent Lin Dong, en route to the hospital where his young daughter is in critical condition when he receives a call that a witness has been compromised and he is required to immediately arrange evacuation of the asset.

Lin Dong and his partner Xiao Su arrive on site but are met by an overwhelming force equipped with advanced armour and weaponry led by a sinister man in black; injured in the attack, Lin Dong is unable to be at his daughter’s bedside as she dies.

Thirteen years later, an Australian author is killed following the publication of the cyberpunk bestseller Bleeding Steel, his novel about a girl with a mechanical heart which has piqued the interest of a number of parties for what they perceive as inside information on experimental technologies. Soon, Lin Dong is on the case, leading him back to the fate of his daughter and the black cloaked man who will not die.

Directed by Leo Zhang from a script co-written by Zhang, Erica Xia-Hou and Siwei Cu, Bleeding Steel is billed as a science fiction action film, but it is also a hideous mess, Zhang’s hyperactive production unable to find a coherent story between the continent-hopping interminable fight scenes, chase scenes and explosions, crammed full of everything but subtlety.

As a vehicle for the talents of Jackie Chan, even in his mid-sixties he is unstoppable force as Lin Dong, capable of delivering every outrageous physical demand, but too often the focus is away from him, most often on Taiwanese pop singer Show Lo as the insufferable Li Sen, the soundtrack playing up his every appearance as if to make it apparent that he is supposed to be funny for those in the international audience who simply find his childish gurning tiresome.

Against them are Alien: Covenant’s Tess Haubrich and Beyond Skyline‘s Callan Mulvey, soon to be seen in Outlaw King, both escapees of Home and Away now black cloaked as they shape their inept plot from their flying armoured fortress, he sneering and she scowling and hitting things, the same thankless underwritten role Sylvia Hoeks played in Blade Runner 2049.

The high technology on display elsewhere not having reached the suburbs of Sydney, despite the many production partners it is apparent the budget could not stretch to comprehensive world building, the impressive costumes, weaponry and soundstage sets designed with a very different film in mind, one of the many aspects of the film which seems incongruous.

A clear bid for the same international market which the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its ilk currently dominate, Bleeding Steel is lifeless, noisy, charmless, overblown and helplessly dumb, with terrible effects and compositing in the action sequences, and as a genuine legend of cinema Jackie Chan deserves more dignified material than this.

Bleeding Steel is available for digital download from 5th November