Hong Kong martial arts star Jackie Chan makes an amiable American film debut in The Big Brawl, an amusing chopsocky actioner whose appeal is not limited to the usual audience for this genre. Key ingredient here is humor.
Story is set in Chicago, 1938, and filmed with engagingly artificial style that resembles vintage gangster pix. Epicene gangster lord Jose Ferrer runs his terrain with the aid of his foul-mouthed, cigar-chomping mother (Mary Ellen O’Neill).
Attempts to strong-arm a Chinese restaurateur run afoul when his son (Chan) gets into the act with chopsocky skills. Chan eventually is recruited by Ferrer to be his entrant into a Texas free for all (the ‘big brawl’ of the title).
Chan’s physical prowess grows, leaving the flashiest stuff for the finale.