In an ongoing series, Lumičre asks a diverse range of film critics about the movie(s) that got them into movies.

CALEB STARRENBURG: Blame it on Jackie Chan. It was 1996, and I had just been given a copy of Rumble in the Bronx on VHS. The plot was terrible; the acting even worse. Then there was the dub track. Yet I loved that film more than life itself, and for one good reason: Mr. Chan.

The guy kicked ass like nothing I had seen before: the actual embodiment of action and entertainment. I wanted to move like he did, to jump across rooftops and run up walls. Sometimes he moved so fast I could scarcely believe my eyes. He even broke his ankle performing a stunt, but kept on going. Who does that? It was a kung-fu film, it was my first, and it was good. An obsession began: To hunt down and view every martial arts film, by any means possible.

I started with the Jackie Chan back catalogue: the Police Story series and Drunken Master were my favourites. Then I moved on to the Jet Li and Bruce Lee libraries. Soon I discovered Tsui Hark and finally the Shaw Brothers. In almost no time at all I had rented every kung-fu film in every video store in my local area, which admittedly was pretty small.

At a loss, I decided to take a gamble on the only other ‘Chinese’ film I could find. Surely, I thought, there must be some fighting in it? So it was I found myself renting a little film called Raise the Red Lantern.

There were no shadow kicks. No lovesick ghosts, flying witches or exploding heads. But I didn’t care. My mind had been blown, all over again. They make films like this? Raise the Red Lantern was like nothing I had witnessed. I tried telling anyone who would listen; they were mostly interested in watching Titanic. I didn’t care, I wanted more.

So, while it was a Zhang Yimou film that cemented my fixation with all things cinema, it was Rumble in the Bronx that took my hand and kicked my ass down the path.

Rumble in the Bronx. Hell Yeah!

Caleb Starrenburg is a long-time Lumičre contributor, and freelance writer for a variety of publications.