Rumble in the Bronx
It begins very similarly to Death Wish III; the kung fu sequences are exceedingly well done, and the gags are often so well filmed as to be almost overlooked, so easy are they made to appear. The hovercraft finale starts out like Thunderball and rises to the height of absolute lunacy, and goes on from there.
This is patently an homage to Thunderball and the Bond films in general, but in a language of its own as surreal and direct as Harold Lloyd’s in Safety Last, for instance.
Nuclear weaponry is missing from the Russian stockpile, thieves lead a merry chase. Tong opens with an effective montage of Hong Kong, moves to Moscow (official buildings) and the Ukraine (city and ski resort), finally to Queensland.
And these adventures have a turn visibly played from Lloyd on vertical space as the measure of status or position, relative to the hero’s ups and downs from high-rise to lowlife, the girl is whisked away sitting atop a glass elevator, she feeds sharks at the Oceanarium. The ultimate expression in this context is perhaps an obscure citation (also in Van Damme’s The Quest even more explicitly) of Borzage’s Man’s Castle (Spencer Tracy on stilts). So the policeman trails the worldwide path of crime and finds it overarching in a way that makes for gags like the battle in which the hero’s weapon is a ladder.
As comedy, this is studied to perfection. The genius of it is something else again.
The hero is a purblind museum benefactor, the villain is an artist. This constitutes a satire of the neo-Disney position expounded by Eisner. The final cartoon, just before the end credits, is “the real Magoo,” as he says somewhere else.
The infamous notice disclaiming any intention of belittling the nearsighted recalls the disaster at the Ahmanson Theater when John Osborne’s A Patriot for Me was presented there, without the character of the psychiatrist but with notices in the lobby disavowing anti-Semitic remarks in the text and, taped to the front of the bar, warning patrons of the Government’s disapproval of alcohol consumption.
Patrons stayed away en masse. Tong’s film revolves around a ruby on exhibit, stolen and put in Magoo’s hands inadvertently, i.e., the museum benefactor doesn’t know he has a priceless gem.
A small joke to flesh out the hijinks has Magoo’s bulldog wake from its human bed and urinate standing up on its hind legs in the bathroom behind a screen. This is Oldenburg’s crack on Disney’s sanitized animals, placed here with saintly regard for its triviality where no-one is likely to see or get it, mildly tweaking the studio’s nose for this usurpation of work done famously by its rival, UPA.
High bid for the gem goes to a murderous Brazilian mobster named Peru, a gift for his bride. The $15,000,000 is placed in layers of clothing on a gunsel, who strips them off one by one down to his underpants. Magoo in bridal costume goes over the falls in a rubber raft quite the antithesis of Jeff Koons’ bronze version, and signs his autograph on the cover of a book about the successful case without leaving any signature, it need hardly be mentioned.