Monday, September 12, 2011

Foot in Mouth: "Bloodfist" (1989)

Don Wilson gets involved in the tough world of Filipino kickboxing in order to follow through on a story that is older than the hills.

Wilson plays Jake, who partners with Hal (Kenneth Peerless) in a small martial arts academy. Jake's brother, Mike, is killed in Manila after winning a kickboxing match, so Jake must fly there to claim the body. The body was cremated, and Jakes swears vengeance on Mike's murderers. Jake then meets all the supporting players, one right after the other. Kwong (Joe Mari Avellana) decides to help train Jake. Baby (Michael Shaner) is the wild kickboxer with no discipline. Nancy (Riley Bowman) is Baby's hot sister, as well as a stripper/translator (!), who falls for Jake.

Jake and Baby enter the kickboxing tournament, and Mike's killer is supposedly one of the competitors. Then, like "Murder, She Wrote," the suspects are eliminated one by one until the true killer's identity is revealed, although I do not remember Angela Lansbury slamming a guy's nose back into his skull during a darkened blood match to the death.

"Bloodfist" is too typical. There is a final twist in the story that surprises if you have not been paying attention at all through the film. Billy Blanks, the "Tae Bo" guy, moves faster than the camera can react, and I wish more time had been spent on him. Wilson is okay, if a little stiff. The rest of the supporting cast goes through the paces. This is more than a little reminiscent of the "Rocky" and "Karate Kid" films, complete with the grizzled older fight instructor, and training montages. Jake does not fight professionally because he has just one kidney, giving the other to his now-dead brother, yet this little tidbit of information never comes up again in the film.

While not a complete disaster, "Bloodfist" has little to put it over other late 1980s/early 1990s cheap martial arts films. Camera shadows are more than evident, fake blood is spit and spilled often, and some of the multiple slow motion shots just show many of the kicks and punches come nowhere near connecting. This launched a ton of sequels, which I am sure contain more of the same. "Bloodfist" is weak. (* *) out of five stars.