Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bloodfist (The Series)

Bloodfist (1989) * 1/2

Cast: Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Joe Mari Avellana, Rob Kaman, Billy Blanks, Riley Bowman, Michael Shaner

Don (The Dragon) Wilson stars as Jake Raye, a boxer who has to learn kickboxing to avenge the murder of his brother in Philippines. As it turns out Wilson’s brother was killed by “The Snake” who is apparently the favorite of a Bloodsport inspired tournament. Actually Bloodfist fails to deliver on its promise, as the final fight means ultimately little as a ridiculous twist ending means that the killer is someone close to Wilson. Bloodfist is a fairly uninspired Kickboxer rip off with lame fight sequences and exceedingly boring characters. The lame fight sequences are what really cost Bloodfist the most, since we can see where the obvious big kick and punch are not making contact and meanwhile the back story involving Wilson and the two Americans he befriends ultimately stops what little momentum Bloodfist ultimately would gain. The climax though does have its unintentional amusements as the slow motion actually yields to slow motion shouting and hysterical trippy scenes as Wilson has been drugged by a mango (!) Indeed the biggest laughs of all are the Karate magazines hyping this as the best martial arts movie of all time. Not even close, I’m afraid.

Bloodfist II (1990) * * *

Cast: Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Joe Mari Avellana, Maurice Smith, Rina Reyes, Rick Hill

Directed By Andy Blumenthal

Don (The Dragon) Wilson returns as Jake Raye, the kickboxing champion hero from Bloodfist 1, who is kidnapped by Millionaire Avellana to partake in an Enter The Dragon like tournament against doped up fighters, see Avellana is trying to sell a drug that will make fighters impervious to pain and he needs the best martial artists to showcase his drug on. Bloodfist II is of course as badly acted as you would expect (in fact the acting here rivals High School Shakespeare plays) However where Bloodfist II succeeds is in the arena, where this time the fight sequences are choreographed extremely well and tightly shot. Indeed the movie works in the vein of a kung fu theater opus and given that’s all Bloodfist II promises to do. If anything else it utilizes its kung fu expert cast and keeps them in motion throughout and since the choreography and story are far better, Bloodfist II is ultimately a vast improvement over it’s lame predecessor. Meanwhile many would be surprised to see that Wes Craven worked as a production consultant for this film. Is there anything Craven can’t do?

Bloodfist III: Forced To Fight (1991) * * *

Cast: Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Richard Roundtree, Rick Dean, Gregory McKinney
Directed By Oley Sassone

Don “The Dragon” Wilson has his best outing to date in a surprising series that actually gets better with each sequel against all odds. To be fair Bloodfist 1 was a dull Kickboxer rip off, and Bloodfist II was merely decent kung fu theater style opus that worked the same way a Bruce Li flick did. Bloodfist III though is a very well put together movie and is ultimately one of the best prison-action movies ever made. Bloodfist III finds a way to give even the most minor of characters texture, so when the fight sequences come, we actually sort of care about who is in danger and the fight sequences are edited and choreographed with a sense of realism which ultimately adds to the grittiness. Bloodfist III then was advertised as a Death Warrant rip off, but Bloodfist III far exceeds that and Death Warrant was no slouch either. Indeed Bloodfist III works far better than most A-list prison melodramas and Don “The Dragon” Wilson is actually well suited to the role and ultimately sort of appealing. It’s Richard Roundtree, Rick Dean and Gregory McKinney that give the film the edge that it has. As each of these actors make their characters tough and ultimately human. Bloodfist III is indeed a gem, that I had no idea it would be when I rented it. Bloodfist III almost (but not quite) holds its own against the Hong Kong Prison On Fire movies, and that’s high praise for a Don “The Dragon” Wilson starred Bloodfist sequel.

Bloodfist IV: Die Trying (1992) * * *

Cast: Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Amanda Wyss, Cat Sassoon, James Tolkan, Gary Daniels

Directed By Paul Ziller

Don “The Dragon” Wilson returns as Danny Holt, a repo man who accidently gets his hands on the nuclear triggers that bad guys are looking to sell to the highest bidder, ultimately it takes time for The Dragon to put 2 and 2 together but once he comes home to find that the babysitter knows kung fu and brandishes a switchblade, and that his daughter has been kidnapped, The Dragon teams up with his dead co-worker’s vegan best friend (Amanda Wyss, Freddy Krueger’s first victim for those keeping score) to do battle against these cloak and dagger bad guys, of course our hero being a kung fu expert makes all the difference. I didn’t expect Bloodfist IV to follow in the footsteps of its ultimately excellent predecessor, as one knows that this is the exception but not the rule, however with that said Bloodfist IV works as sheer campy fun. Certainly you can’t take the story seriously as The Dragon basically singlehandedly destroys henchman after nuclear weapons smuggled in chocolates. Indeed if the fight sequences were dully choreographed and infrequent, Bloodfist IV would be one of the worst movies ever made, however because Bloodfist IV keeps the pace fast and the action well choreographed and frequent, it works in the same vein that kung fu theater works in. If anything else it’s worth seeing just to see The Dragon attempt his futile best to be a Schwarzenegger styled hero complete with ridiculous one liners.

Bloodfist V: Human Target (1993) * *

Cast: Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Steve James, Denise Duff, Don Stark, Yuji Okumoto

Directed By Jeff Yonis

Don “The Dragon” Wilson stars as a kickboxing expert (talk about typecasting) who survives a gunshot to the head which gives him amnesia, so now all kinds of goons are after him, and ultimately he can’t figure out what side of the law he was on and who is his friend and enemy. Bloodfist V is every bit as routine as the plot would indicate, the production values are ultimately lower than usual and more importantly the fight sequences are merely adequate when they should be the selling point here. Steve James of American Ninja fame shows up in one of his last roles before his death from pancreatic cancer and he provides what little life there is in this sequel. Indeed one kept wondering how much better the film had been had it been Steve James in Wilson’s role and vice versa, as the far more expressive James easily outclasses the hopelessly wooden Wilson. Still there are few good action set pieces and the climax sort of hits the right note on a surreal level, but ultimately this is a series that has had its day and need to be hung up.


  1. One of these days, i will have to purchase these films! Gotta love Don "The Dragon" Wilson!

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