Snakeadelic Wednesday Jan 20 08:21 PM
Jan 21st, 2016: I found an old friend!!!
Since the blog post is so old, I'm not going to hassle with trying to isolate permission for the relevant pic, which is the one of Chan in the Lamborghini, wedging that GIANT freakin sword into place with one foot, at the bottom of the blog entry.
I know that sword. Personally. As in by name, because it has one.
It was made in the early 1990s by a smith named Jeff Bannister, for whom I can find no internet footprint. He was a friend of my first husband, and eventually was my landlord for a while in the hoppin' metropolis (NOT) that is/was Independence, Oregon.
In the mid-90s or so, before Rumble in the Bronx was released in the US, I got to see a Hong Kong copy that someone had acquired and paid through the nose to have converted to US video format. This happened at a tiny sci-fi convention called Geocon (pronounced Gooey-con, as it's named after the geoduck clam) that was held at the (well-named) Evergreen State College near Olympia, WA. When he spotted it in a shop window I very nearly got evicted from the movie screening room for squeaking "Oh my God I know that sword! Jeff is gonna have a heart attack!" much too loudly.
After the convention, I called Mr. Bannister and insisted he write down "Jackie Chan, Rumble in the Bronx" and go see the movie the SECOND he found out it was onscreen in the US, which took nearly a year if memory serves. He called me the day after it opened, so excited I could hear his wheelchair squeaking--he'd been chair-bound for 19 years at that point and no it did not slow him down one li'l bit. Turned out his business partner, a Vancouver, BC native named Rob something-I-don't-remember, had stolen that piece and sold it to a prop house in Vanc BC! Jeff had been looking for it, and him, for YEARS by then.
Its name is The Can Opener. There are a good 4 inches of blade out of frame on the right, curved back toward the car. That part of its design was intended for prying off plate armor. The serrated part was designed to EAT chain mail. The entire blade was hand-cut from 3/8ths-inch bar steel stock. The crossguard (hidden behind the car's windshield strut) and pommel are brass, and it's got a full tang--which means that pommel screws directly onto the base of the blade at the bottom of the hilt, which is Lignum Vitae wood. The stain color of the wood was changed for the movie, as it was originally a yellowish shade that didn't really go well with the brass fittings but had not soaked deeply into the wood.
The reason Jackie's holding it in place so awkwardly is he could not put his shoe on the back of the blade. EVERY EDGE on that bad boy is sharpened! No "theater edge" on that--even the serrations are sharp on all edges. I'm five-one-ish, and standing on its pommel The Can Opener came up to right about the tip of my nose. I used to scare the daylights out of medieval re-creationists by picking it up one-handed off Bannister's sales-stock table and rotating it through 180 degrees to demonstrate its excellent balance. It's a wonder no one bought it before Rob stole it!
I do know its eventual fate--it was autographed on the hilt by Jackie Chan and gifted to a member of the production crew. The maker took the noble route when he found this out and did not seek its return . Most people have not believed my description of it if they haven't seen the movie, so I've been hunting photos of it online sporadically for DECADES.
Sometimes it's awesome to find a photo of an old friend in an unexpected place--something I'll never be heard to say about either of my ex-husbands .
xoxoxoBruce Wednesday Jan 20 08:29 PM
The picture at snake's link.
A piece of steel 3/8 of an inch thick x 4 inches wide x 4 1/2 feet long.
.375 x 4 x 54 = 81 cubic inches x .2904 lbs/cu in = 23.5 lbs, if I did that right.
He cut and ground a lot away in the shaping, but it still must have been heavy. Of course that’s not a problem for Jackie Chan.
Snakeadelic Thursday Jan 21 09:01 AM
It was cut to shape; the only grinding was the sharpening. I remember because he complained about how often the serrated side cut his hands up during sharpening. One of the advantages of working with Rob was Rob had access to a Vancouver milling company that was using high-pressure water to cut shapes from flat-stock metal (sheet or bar) leaving virtually no burrs on the edges. Shortly before The Can Opener vanished, we got a look at the sequel, which sadly was never finished because Rob had it in his custody when he disappeared. In order to lighten the yes, MAJOR weight, some of the metal in the center had been removed, turning the shape into a thick outline. I always swore it had to weigh at least twenty pounds! Bear in mind the several inches of curved tip out of frame at lower right; the original bar stock may have been 6 inches wide because he specifically mentioned how nice it was not to have to hammer in those plate-prying curves. If I ever find the one photo of Mr. Bannister that I know I took, I'll pop it in here as well. Maybe someone who knows him will spot it!
Sundae Thursday Jan 21 10:24 AM
Rumble in the Bronx was my first introduction to Jackie Chan.
My ex (husband, not the Evil Ex) owned a comic shop, was majorly into Manga and had a contact in HK, so he sold videos big in the East. No, nothing under the counter!
But he thought it would be best to let me dip my toe in the water when it came to Jackie Chan.
I remember he told me before the video started that JC did his own stunts, filmed in real time, no editing. He didn't have to tell me there was no CGI because - well, videos. No CGI.
I don't remember that weapon, but thanks for reminding me of a good time in my life, and a new experience. I never got to love Eastern cinema as much as my ex, but the love of graphic novels (and Neil Gaiman) stayed with me.
Cool IoTD and cool story, made super cool by your connection.
Clodfobble Thursday Jan 21 02:34 PM
I don't know if this is true about Rumble in the Bronx, but most of his later movies included outtakes of all the times he hurt himself during stunts. As the opening notes, he was 49 for most of these:
Originally Posted by Sundae
I remember he told me before the video started that JC did his own stunts, filmed in real time, no editing.
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