The Big Brawl (1980) 
aka Battle Creek Brawl

Synopsis:  In 1930’s Chicago, Jerry Kwan (Jackie) is the son of a restaurant owner who is being bullied by racketeers seeking extortion money. Jerry learns Kung Fu, against his father’s will, from his “Uncle.” While defending his father’s restaurant, he comes to the attention of a Mob boss who wants to enter him as a contestant in a mass free-for-all in Battle Creek, Texas. To that end, he kidnaps the fiancée of Jerry’s brother and holds her hostage in order to blackmail Jerry into fighting for him.

Debbie's Review:  This was part of Jackie’s attempt in the early 80’s to break into the American market. The plot is silly and cheesy, but, hey, we’re used to that!  (And why does his brother speak flawless English without a trace of a Chinese accent, while he is barely intelligible?) While the action is stilted and slow looking, this film really does let Jackie’s natural personality shine through, and it never loses an opportunity to show off his muscles (I for one really appreciate that quality in a Jackie film). For instance when he and Uncle break into the Gangster’s mansion, the guards have apparently been instructed, ”Don’t hurt him, just tear his sleeves off. That’ll teach him a lesson!” The film now seems pretty dated by its 80’s style, particularly the roller skating contest. In spite of these failings, though, I really like this movie. As a vehicle for Jackie’s action it’s not very good, but as a vehicle for his charm and charisma, you couldn’t ask for more. In the opening sequence, for example, he engages in a comic “fight” with his father’s extortionists, while his father looks on shouting “Jerry, don’t fight!” so all his movements are planned “accidents” that leave his much larger opponents limping away in fury. It’s not an exciting fight, but it’s quite charming.

And the "Big Brawl" itself in Texas is fairly entertaining, too. Even though all his opponents seem lumberingly slow, Jackie's own agility and clever comic timing are still great fun to watch.

This movie is also a refreshing chance to hear Jackie’s real, undubbed speaking voice, which is something you can’t get from his early Hong Kong movies (until Supercop in 1992, they were all filmed without sound, and the voices added later by professional dubbers rather than the original actors). It’s also interesting to hear his early attempts at speaking English. He had only spent a few weeks learning the language at that point, and he sounds at times like he’s pronouncing syllables that don’t mean anything to him; so while his pronunciation is pretty good, his voice sounds curiously flat. This may have been another reason why his American career went nowhere with this movie.

Be that as it may, I really enjoy this movie, and it's one I find myself returning to again and again.

Score: 6/10

Reader Reviews

Aikidonut's Review I haven't seen this in years, but I remember the classic silent movie bits from Chaplin and Keaton that Jackie incorporated into his stunts. Jackie had more control than you might imagine. Even though this suffers from a kludgy round eye script by someone who really didn't understand what Jackie was capable of, it rode well with my daughter and I, who had seen most of his work up until 2000, including "Half a loaf of Kung Fu". As an early American effort, it works much better than some of the Norris' and Van Damme's first films.

Score: 8/10

Drunken Review Master's Review: Although Jackie's first shot at Hollywood superstardom didn't work out for him my idea of it is it wasn't his fault, martial arts films in America at that time just wasn't as advanced as the films were in Hong Kong, the use of undercranking (for those of you who know what that is)wasn't used in the film so the action didn't have that fast touch, but one thing is for sure Jackie Chan's marvelous abilities were able to shine through quite a few times to turn the slow,boring action into a marvelous spectacle. Like for instance when he showed his breath taking acrobatics in the training session where his uncle (played by legendary chinese character actor Mako) [Debbie's note: Mako is Japanese/American] throws tennis balls at Jackie only to have JC dodge every last one of them by doing somersaults,kip-ups,cartwheels & everthing else you can think of,and especially the final match in the championship tournament when Jackie faces the current champ Billy Kiss, Jc pulls out all the stops against this monster and finally defeating!
him at the end with an unbelivable flying triple kick,followed by JC falling on the ground then doing a sort of flip-up kick to knock him out. So if you want a good movie plot then I can honestly say that the boring 1930's Bronx gangster story line is horibly written,but on the other hand if you're looking for nothing more than Jackie Chan style of hilarious,mouth-dropping action then "The Big Brawl" comes highly recommended by me.

Score: 7.5/10

Geordie's Review:  My first ever JC movie at the tender age of 14 ! It could be nostalgia but this JC movie remains my absolute favourite JC vehicle. The "fresh" mix of excellent humour, fight scenes and not too bad a plot made this a cut above other martial arts kick ass films of the seventies. The catchy whistling soundtrack is excellent too !

If there is any critisisms of this movie, then it must firstly be with the choice of the main baddie "KISS". It took Jackie all of 3 minutes to finish this guy off and that was probably 2.5 minutes longer than jackie would have needed.

secondly, in the movie jackie is sent to pick up his brothers fiancee. I don't know her real name [ she has appeared in numerous martial arts type films including chuck norris "an eye for an eye" and the draggons challenge-spiderman movie ] we see her for all of 15 seconds before she is kidnapped and do not see her again. This lady is absolutely gorgeous and should have been on screen longer!!

ok ok i'm a harsh critic but that's about the only faults i can find with the big brawl.

i would thoroughly  recommend this movie to any martial arts fans and JC fans in particular.


Score: 8/10

The Game's Review: Well, almost everyone hated this movie, with the exception of Debbie. I, on the other hand, liked this movie quite a bit. The story was better then I expected. I went into the film thinking that Jackie would be unstoppable in the tournament. Until the real story comes out, I thought that the movie was bad. I'm glad that the plot was somewhat complex, and it actually saved the movie. The fights were great, and less on the stunts, more comedy. I think the less stunts is what made people not like this movie. No one can deny that this film isn't an above average attempt to break into hollywood. I'll take this film over any Stallone film anyday.

Score: 8/10

ojje,s review this moviesucks the fights you see alout but the plot and just the is a crack up this movie is onethe worst jc films i have  seen i did not know  that jackie would  make that load of crap

Score: 1/10

alwaysjackiefan's Review: Oke, Jackie's first American try...being directed by a guy being not too (or into) Jackie's abilities).. well who could blame him...they problably told him that the would be directed "just another wannabee from Hong Kong)

But despite that..Jackie just is Jackie with his skills, his humour (remember doging Billy Kiss by hiding among the audience wearing Cowboy hat (even if you've seen that movie several times, still hard to find Jackie in that scene)... but kicking ass as we know it.... (that one alone should make it see as a Jackie movie) Avoiding the balls his uncle is throwing at him...and afterwards training with that weird puppet...eventually having to find it in his small bed...and the comedy Jackie puts into those scenes...can't fool anyone that Jackie was given lots of freedom to put lots of his abilities, humour, and martial arts skills in there...

so good movie after all...only "dip" for that movie would be Jackie in love and kissing his girlfriend... But guess that's a dip cos we all had seen Jackie playing quite tough guy... But for me in just adds some more humanity. With this movie I believe that Jackie had made a nice and substantial mixture of being the young man in love and the persistant avenger...

Score: 7/10

Cristopher's Review: I didn't like this for one reason. It not the JC type of Movie. You can really see that JC didn't have any freedom to make a good movie. They just told him what to do. 

Score: 4/10

Joe's Review: Nothing special first Jackie movie. It wasn't that bad, it wasn't that good. Interesting to look at, but don't bother otherwise.

Score: 5/10

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