Bullet Points: Shootfighter: Fight to the Death
A few months back I wanted to review a Bolo Yeung movie that I had never seen before. After watching Bloodsport, Double Impact and Enter the Dragon on numerous occasions over the years I became a fan of Bolo’s work. But the man has been in over 100 movies, so I knew I had only scratched the surface in regards to Mr. Yeung’s acting career.
Unfortunately I managed to go with what is likely the worst choice I could have made when I sat down and watched the abysmal Ironheart.
I am happy to say my second attempt was a much more rewarding experience. The movie I chose was Shootfighter: Fight to the Death.
- Good Guy Bolo?: The movie kicks off with Bolo’s character, Shingo taking on Chang (Joe Son). Two things jumped out at me immediately, Bolo was wearing white so I assumed he was the good guy. Plus his opponent played by Joe Son, is an actual criminal serving a life sentence without a possibility of parole. So even if Bolo was supposed to be the bad guy in that scene, I was going to cheer for him regardless.
- Cobra Kai 4 Life: While Bolo may have been playing a role opposite of what I was used to, Martin Kove was EXACTLY the character I expected him to be. Kove plays Mr. Lee, a man who is banned from shootfighting in Hong Kong because he believes fighting to the death is the only real way to determine who the true winner of a fight is. This would explain why he ripped his opponents throat out. With his days in Hong Kong history, Mr. Lee starts up his own shootfighting circuit down Mexico way.
- Karate Kid Reunion: William Zabka, who played Johnny Lawrence the prized pupil of Martin Kove’s character in The Karate Kid, plays Ruben in Shootfighter. Ruben, along with his girlfriend Cheryl (Maryam d’Abo) run a martial arts school. When he’s not running his school, Ruben is training for the nationals under the guidance of Shingo. Unfortunately in order to make his dream of running a martial arts school a reality, Ruben did business with what I’m guessing is a redneck loan shark. (If the guys you have collecting your money all wear cowboy hats, you might be a redneck loan shark.) I didn’t even think there were rednecks in Los Angeles. Anyway, this lapse in judgment on Ruben’s part is the catalyst for what happens in the rest of the movie.
- It’s All About The Money: After seeing Ruben and his best friend Nick (Michael Bernardo of Virtual Combat fame) compete in an amateur competition, Mr. Lee’s lackey Mr. C, recruits Ruben and Nick to join Mr. Lee’s shootfighting circuit with the promise of big bucks! They are told if they can each win 4 qualifying matches, they will advance to the finals where the money is even bigger and you get to fight with weapons! Mr. Lee has an ulterior motive for the invite… he knows that Ruben and Nick are trained by Shingo, a man he was denied the opportunity to fight (kill?) over in Hong Kong. So Lee uses Ruben and Nick as bait in his personal vendetta against Shingo, but is it a move he’ll end up regretting?
I really enjoyed Shootfighter: Fight to the Death. Some movies that get a sequel or sequels shock me, like that crap fest known as The Circuit. I was not shocked that there is a Shootfighter II with Bolo Yeung, William Zabka and Michael Bernardo all reprising their roles. That convict Joe Son is back too but as a completely different character.
Shootfighter: Fight to the Death delivers on the fighting action. Seeing Bolo in a non-villainous role was refreshing and while he was the top billed star, Zabka does most of the heavy lifting in terms of the progression of the story. This is good because Bolo is definitely more of an attraction than he is leading man material.
Here are a few more Shootfighter: Fight to the Death Bullet Points…
- One Negative: If there is one negative about the movie it would be the character of Jill. Jill is a friend of Cheryl and she has a crush on Nick. She is also one of the worst actresses I have ever seen in an action film and that covers a lot of ground.
- Double Training Montage: We get a dual training montage, as we see Ruben, seduced by the dark side and blinded by money, going off the deep end starting up street fights to prepare for Mr. Lee’s Finals and we see Shingo training Nick for the Nationals.
- Familiar Faces: Kenn Scott, from the movie Showdown, plays a fighter who no longer wants to fight for Mr. Lee and things don’t end well for him. And the “star” of American Kickboxer 1, John Barrett, plays a fighter in Mr. Lee’s Finals named Mongoose.
- No Hyperbole: You may have noticed the tag line “It’ll Tear Your Heart Out”. This is no exaggeration you will actually see a man rip another man’s heart out to end one of the fights. If I would have started with that information I could have probably saved myself a lot of typing, because that sells the movie.