Thursday, January 29, 2009

999 Challenge: Martial Arts films

The 1st of MANY reviews between now and the end of 2009:

5. 9 Martial Arts:
1990-1999

Kickboxer 5
Full Contact
Once Upon a Time in China III
Above the Law
Fist of Legend
Police Story 2

*Rapid Fire-
A Brandon Lee action flick-one of two on my list-this is because i really enjoyed his work-as short lived as the son of legendary Martial Arts star Bruce Lee's career was,he packed a lot of entertainment into his few films.
This particular flick was about a student who carries a large chip on his shoulder about his father's death-killed during the tragic Tiananmen Square Massacre of 1989.
Now this is a very nice back story for our hero,but it is-as in most action flicks-just an excuse for Lee to kick many asses- he's caught up in a mob related killing and becomes a witness-seeing the boss (played by Nick Mancuso with as little subtlety as possible) personally murder someone.
Lee is taken under the wing of a tough as nails,screw the book cop played by the great Powers Boothe (also using the "more is more" acting style his co star Mancuso prefers) and many shoot outs and hand to hand battles ensue.
The highlight for me was when Lee is held captive by Mancuso in his Italian restaurant and Booth's cops wait outside for the mobster to implicate himself via a wire-many,many bullets fly from outside and in while Lee does his best to crack as many heads as he can-amazingly not getting shot in the process (a given rule in any American Martial Arts film is that the hero is basically bulletproof-or more precisely able to somehow avoid getting shot even when in a restaurant that is totally shot to pieces by the cops- and anyone who has a chance to shoot him is either disarmed or decides to take him on hand to hand-otherwise the film would be over very quickly) but the real fun of this scene is the choreography of the fights Lee has with the mobsters-he even has a couple moments where he gives a nod to his dad-for those who know Bruce Lee's work well-a classic pose and a scream-nice touches.
There's also a romantic thread with a beautiful female cop to keep the few girls watching awake but the main draw here is the son of Bruce showing off his onscreen fighting chops and the enjoyable tone of the film-it doesn't take itself that seriously and the main actors-knowing this-keep you entertained between fight scenes.
---3 1/2 stars

Showdown in Little Tokyo
High Voltage

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