Battle Creek Brawl
(a.k.a. The Big Brawl) (1980)
Directed by Robert Clouse

Artistic Value: * *
Entertainment Value: * * *

DVD In Association with
Rent DVDs online!
In the USA:
Try Netflix For Free.In the UK:

Jerry Kwan (Jackie Chan), an aspiring martial artist living some time in the 1930s, beats up the nephew and henchmen of a local gangster, Domenici (José Ferrer), after these persons had attempted to extort protection money from his father, a Chicago restaurateur. The mob boss himself, having heard of how his men had been defeated, rather than seeking revenge, decides instead to kidnap Jerry's brother's fiancée and use her to coerce Jerry into participating in a fighting competition that is going to be held in the Texas town of Battle Creek.

Robert Clouse's Battle Creek Brawl is a quick paced, action filled film that, while always fun, and very similar to many of Jackie Chan's other projects, is unlikely to make much of an impression on the viewer.


The movie's narrative is so formulaic and arbitrary that it is never particularly engaging, and its conclusion is so abrupt that the viewer may be left feeling dissatisfied. Nevertheless, since the story Clouse tells really exists only to provide excuses for the film's various fights, its faults are not usually much of a distraction.

These action sequences, unfortunately, rarely display Chan's skills as effectively as do many such routines in a number of the performer's other films, but they are generally exciting and are often enlivened with a real sense of humor. One, in which Jerry competes in a violent, roller derby-like race, is wonderfully silly fun. Another, in which he is attacked by a group of opponents in an empty amphitheater gives Chan the opportunity to display his skill at making use of unlikely weapons, here a sawhorse, and the film's final fight, in Battle Creek, is a sprawling ordeal in which the hero takes on a killer wrestler, hides in a crowd, performs various acrobatic feats, faces a knife wielding gangster, and more. While none of these sequences may awe the viewer, they are likely, at the least, to keep his interest.

Lastly, I should note that the quality of the acting in the movie is consistently dreadful. Chan is wooden. Ferrer overacts with glee. Mary Ellen O'Neill, who plays Dominici's Mother, is astonishingly inept, and the rest of the cast is little better. Oddly, the sheer incompetence of so many of the performers actually adds to the movie's appeal. They are so bad they are genuinely fun to watch.


Battle Creek Brawl is far from being Jackie Chan's most enjoyable work. While it is not unwatchable, it is certainly not memorable.

Review by Keith Allen

Home Page / Alphabetical List of Films
List of Films by Star Ratings
Aesthetic Principles / Guide to Ratings
Criteria for Inclusion / DVD Stores / Blog

© 2005 Keith Allen. All rights reserved.

Click Here

banner 2