Bullet Points: Midnight Man aka Blood for Blood
It is time to cross another movie off the list of Lorenzo Lamas films I missed out on back in the 1990’s golden era of direct to video action movies. This time out, I’m going to review Midnight Man, or as some of you may know it, Blood for Blood.
Midnight Man reminded me a lot of a box of Hamburger Helper. If you have ever made a box of Hamburger Helper you know you can follow the basic directions but then there’s that section on the back where they suggest adding a little twist to take the meal up a notch. Whether it is chopping up peppers or onions to mix in, or throwing some broccoli florets in to make it seem healthier or even crumbling chips on top to give it some crunch, the fine folks over at Hamburger Helper are giving you suggestions on how to give a unique spin on their classics.
Midnight Man took a lot of the basic action movie formulas and threw a little something in to make it stand out from the pack…
- Our Hero, The Cop: Lorenzo Lamas plays a cop named John Kang. No big shock there, a lot of action movies are about cops, but Kang isn’t some hard nosed maverick detective or a cop on the beat, he is a cop who works in the youth services division of the police force. Kang teaches karate to the youth of the community and keeps them off the streets. And just when you think they are going to stick with the basic formula by giving John Kang a wife and a young daughter and a best friend, Paddy White (Eric Pierpoint), who is also a cop, the movie throws another curve ball in there and we find that Kang is from Cambodian descent. That explains the last name, but when I see Lorenzo Lamas I don’t think Cambodian. But it is another example of Midnight Man shaking things up a bit.
- Speaking of Cambodia: There are two sets of bad guys in this movie, one is the typical Russian mob that so many action movies turn to. But the other is the rather unique Cambodian gang. Certainly Midnight Man could have went the easy route and just made them Yakuza or maybe a Triad of some sort. Instead they go the Cambodian route. I don’t believe any of the “Cambodians” in the movie are actually from Cambodian descent, but I would believe James Lew (who you may remember from Balance of Power) or Steven Vincent Leigh (who you may remember from Ring of Fire) were from Cambodia before I believed Lorenzo was.
- The Gist: The cops have been investigating the Cambodians and are looking to bring them down. Paddy recruits his buddy John Kang to act as an interpreter in the surveillance van. But when things go awry with the undercover the cops had infiltrate the Cambodian gang, John Kang finds himself in deeper than he ever imagined. The cops, including Kang, go inside to get their undercover out. A shoot out ensues and it is breaking down in California! Any of the cops who were lucky to survive that incident, soon found themselves the target of the bad ass known as Prince Samarki (James Lew).
- And Then There Were Two: The last two cops on Samarki’s hit list are Paddy and Kang. That seems par for the course where action movies are concerned, but wait… this is Midnight Man and Midnight Man likes to do things differently. When Samarki confronts Kang, he does not kill him. In fact, it seems he knows something about Kang that even Kang himself does not know.
- Uh-oh Better Get Mako: That’s right, our old friend Mako is in this movie and it is Mako who reveals to John Kang that when he was young he was trained to be a warrior, but when his training was complete he was hypnotized so this power inside him (The Force?) was made dormant for years. Mako goes on to tell him this power would eventually awaken… well when you’ve got Prince Samarki looking to either have you join him or die, you realize that would be a really convenient time for that power to awake. And awake it does, giving the viewers a fantastic sword fight finale between Kang and Samarki!
Midnight Man was an enjoyable film that featured a quality cast and some quality martial arts action. But to me it was all the little extras that helped take it from regular Cheeseburger Macaroni to Cheeseburger Macaroni with crumbled bacon on top!
Let me crumble up a few more Bullet Points for you…
- Alternate Title: I may have liked this title even more if it went by its alternate title of Blood for Blood. That phrase “blood for blood” is actually a line in the movie, while Midnight Man sounds like the name of a bad comic book character or an overnight disc jockey.
- If You Ever: …wanted to see Lorenzo Lamas fight James Lew while wearing nothing but a pair of boxer briefs, then this is the movie for you.
- Everybody Wants A Piece: I was surprised to see James T. Callahan (the grandfather from Charles in Charge) as the police chief in Midnight Man. He would have been a perfect entry on my Top Ten People You Probably Never Knew Were in an Action Movie list.
- Hygiene Advice Quote: “By the way, try changing deodorants. Yours just quit!” – John Kang to Boris the Russian mobster