The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bloodfist (1989)

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Here we are, post number 549, and somehow Bloodfist has slipped through the cracks up until this point. I could have sworn I'd reviewed both this and part 2 already, and as I was watching this again for this review, I had a sense of deja vu as I saw certain images, thinking, "I could've sworn I grabbed that scene." Anyway, it was all my imagination, but here we are now, rectifying the issue.

Bloodfist has DTVC Hall of Famer Don "The Dragon" Wilson as Jake, a fighter in California, whose brother, a fighter in Manila, is killed. He goes over there to get to the bottom of things, and finds all roads lead to an underground fighting tournament, which he enters, hot on the trail of the murderer. The problem is, his trainer, a local who got him into the tournament, isn't too enthused with Donny figuring things out before he fights in the final. Who can Donny trust when the chips are down?

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I don't really know where to go with this one. I guess, because it's a classic, it's worth looking at. Some of the fights are good, some are lackluster. The one big thing it has going for it is the running time, because you're in and out in 80 minutes, which isn't bad. On the other hand, the training montage is silly, and worse than that perfunctory and a bit superfluous, which hurts because that's more fighting or other action we could have had in its place. It is what it is, a derivative tournament film with the distinction of being Don "The Dragon" Wilson's first starring role.

And with this review, we're down to 13 films left in out Dragon completion project. This is an interesting case on why he became a DTV action star, because I think you can see what Roger Corman and whoever else saw in him. He wasn't a great actor, and the tapered pants didn't do anything to make him look any better on-screen, but when he squared up for the fight scenes, there was that look in his eyes, that elite athlete look, like "you won't beat me" or "if you're going to beat me, it's going to hurt a lot. Are you ready for that?" That translates well to the audience, giving him instant credibility. The problem always is, while he's good in those fight scenes, the rest of the time, we don't know what to make of him. Elite athlete does not always translate into solid actor.

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Billy Blanks is sweet for his few scenes. His fighting actually looked the best out of everyone, including Wilson. I'm still not sure why it never happened for him, like it did for guys like Wilson. I know before I've speculated that his race might have been an issue, and on some levels, one could still make that case. I'm trying to think, after Wesley Snipes, how many African American action stars there are. And then, if you eliminate all the converted former rappers, how many do you have? And it's not like there's no one with potential out there. Look at Michael Jai White. He's great period, with no qualifiers, as was Blanks in the late 80s early 90s, great period, not just great African American. People must have looked at him and said "no one will buy a black action hero". That's our loss, unfortunately, because whenever we see him, he's great.

On the image page, you'll notice a kid with a rat tail. I figured I needed to snag that. I remember in 8th grade, my science teacher had one, and we were telling him how out of date they were. I want to say they were cool in like 4th grade, which would have been around when this was made. That kid's probably my age in the picture. If you're wondering, yes, I tried to grow a rat tail, went to the beauty school with my mom to get my haircut, and the stylist there started the process for me. It was pretty weak, compared to some of the other kids, so I gave up. Not that I had any better hairdos than that, I just didn't have the rat tail.

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I like this mention of Chinatown in Manila. I was trying to think of other films we've had that have featured Chinatowns in them. Obviously, anything taking place in San Francisco, New York, or LA that had anything to do with martial arts showcased those Chinatowns. Into the Sun has the Tokyo Chinatown, which was cool. If you ever make it up to Boston, we have a pretty cool Chinatown here (the oldest in the country, actually). It's right down the road from South Station.

If you haven't seen this one, I think it's good to get it out of the way, just to be able to say you've seen all the Bloodfists-- kind of the same way I need to be able to say I've reviewed all the Bloodfists, right? Anyway, the DVD is currently out of print, meaning Netflix won't rent it. If you keep an eye out though, you'll probably catch it on TV.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096952/

7 comments:

  1. I'm the same way, I have all the Bloodfists but have yet to watch them! It was your review of one of the later ones when I first found your site that made me think they looked worth a shot.

    For any other Aussies reading this, the complete Bloodfist series including Bloodfist 2050 can be picked up at shops that stock Payless/Flashback $2 RRP discs.

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  2. That's really cool that it was a Bloodfist that brought you here. According to the Stats page, all time I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 1000 page views from Australia, so maybe that means there are more Aussie readers out there. If so, I should probably beef up my Richard Norton output to make them all happy!

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  3. Great review! Love seeing early Billy Blanks! Just bought the 1st 4 Bloodfist movies on Amazon. Will be watching them soon.

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  4. I know, I've still got to review Part 2 as well, which is a straight Enter the Dragon rip-off, then part II is where you get the split, and from three to eight, none of them are connected except they all have Wilson. Three has Richard Roundtree, and four has Gary Daniels.

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  5. The late great Steve James was another African American action star who never quite made it.

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  6. I've recently come to enjoy the virtues of a good crappy movie, thanks to Starship Troopers 3: Marauder, and I just so happened to stumble across this blog tonight. When I saw the many reviews for Roger Corman movies, I was eager to read. I must say, I enjoy your writing and look forward to exploring this blog further.

    I'm hopeful though that you've got Corman's, Carnosaur in your queue; it's truly an ass classic, and I'd really like to read your thoughts on it.

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  7. Well, I'm glad you like the blog, Andrew, nice to have you aboard. Carnosaur is out of print, but I should be able to track it down sometime and make it happen.

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