Battle Creek… Crawl

Set in Chicago and Texas in the 1930s, it’s unsurprising when the villainous mobsters use explicitly racist language in Battle Creek Brawl; that’s expected to turn the audience against them, and raise Jackie Chan’s stock among American audiences (this being his first all-English, Hollywood role).

What’s bizarre is that after directing Enter the Dragon so lavishly, director Robert Clouse turned Battle Creek Brawl into a softly racist fiasco. While understanding imported martial arts cinema didn’t catch on outside of grindhouse cinemas, what Battle Creek Brawl does is turn the genre into a joke.

Battle Creek Brawl looks like a dopey side show

For Chan, that sounds okay. The actor persisted in a generally comic state, choreographing fights as to stand out against Hong Kong’s kung fu plethora. That’s not how Battle Creek Brawl plays though. During the final tournament – set in Texas – betting boards don’t bother giving names to most immigrants; they’re listed as “Moroccan” and “Jamaican.” Rather than treat the fights themselves with any seriousness, Battle Creek Brawl looks like a dopey side show, dressed like pro wrestling, and often playing as such. The lack of respect for Chan’s talents is appalling, less a case of a nervous studio handling a new star than demeaning the entire genre for one westerns assume is “better.”

Mobster thug John (Lenny Montana) says at one juncture, “He don’t fight right. He fights foreign,” which is less Montana’s character being bigoted than reflecting the on-set vibes as Chan clashed with Clouse. Battle Creek Brawl is like watching Chan move in slow motion, every attack deliberate, devoid of speed, and clumsily visualized. It’s a complete inability to see why Chan became an international talent, marring the end product grievously to a point where the star will rarely speak of his involvement.

Imagine, putting Jackie Chan in a raucous. no-holds-barred roller skate race then letting him do nothing creative other than throw a few punches. Three years after Battle Creek Brawl, Chan starred in Winners & Sinners, which contains an entire obstacle course on roller skates, seemingly designed to make up for the awkward mess filmed here. Most of Chan’s filmography exists to bury this dud, until he finally caught American’s attention in the mid-’90s.


Echo Bridge issued Battle Creek Brawl years ago on Blu-ray. Other than more spacious compression, Shout’s release is no better, arguably even worse. Filtered with DNR galore, the messy, noisy not-really-grain over the image does Battle Creek Brawl no favors. What little detail can slip through the digital haze still looks murky and waxy, with an unnatural, ugly gloss. In motion, expect smearing.

Dull black levels limit the potential depth, as if the near complete lack of texture would let any slip. Grayed out contrast won’t offer any assistance either.

Middling, browned color saturation leaves flesh tones pale and primaries deadened. Battle Creek Brawl only features a few dry earth tones, leaving no impression or offering a reason for this release aside from its inclusion inside a box set.


Defaulting to English mono (DTS-HD), additional tracks include stereo Cantonese and Mandarin, both uncompressed too. The surround 5.1 mix is available in Dolby Digital only and that’s fine. Credit then where it’s due, the mono track offers better clarity than expected considering the awful video. The score lacks dynamics – the entire track does, actually – but that’s not unusual considering the age.


A packed bonus set begins with a commentary from critic James Mudge. A nearly 90-minute look at Jackie Chan’s career is all new, and a must see for Chan’s fans. Interviews include a new one with Kristine Debell (plus one from 2013 with her), older ones with Chan, producer Fred Weintraub, and author David West. Then, author/critic Rick Baker adds his thoughts on Battle Creek Brawl. Trailers and stills complete this one.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Battle Creek Brawl
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras


Like watching Jackie Chan in slow motion, Battle Creek Brawl never fully appreciates Chan’s inherent skill before the camera.

User Review
1 (1 vote)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 29 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray:

One thought on "Battle Creek Brawl (Shout Factory) Blu-ray Review"

  1. Joel Tarin says:

    This review sounds like it came from some woke news person on local TV. Seems to me you should be talking about the film, not your political views. I’ll assume any film 3 years or older is going to present a problem for this reviewer. Talk about the cinematic aspect. Talk about camera angles, fight scenes, director, actor, etc. NOT your modern take on an OLDER film.

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