Bullet Points: Sword of Honor
I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching a Hollywood experiment as I watched Sword of Honor.
This experiment takes a guy, who up to this point in his career had only been a supporting actor (playing the villain many times) and makes him the star and hero of an action movie. The guy in question is Steven Vincent Leigh.
I’ve covered Leigh before on the site in some of his supporting roles in movies like Ring of Fire with Don “The Dragon” Wilson and Midnight Man with Lorenzo Lamas. He’s got the look of an action star and he’s got the fighting skills. But does he have the “IT” factor that makes a star a star? Let’s find out…
- The Premise: Johnny (Steven Vincent Leigh) is celebrating the early retirement of his friend and long time partner on the police force Alan. The celebration is interrupted by a call about a break in at a local Las Vegas art gallery. Alan is reluctant, something doesn’t feel right about this call, but he second guesses himself and soon has Johnny’s back one more time. Alan should have trusted his instinct, while trying to stopped the masked thief from stealing the sword of honor, Alan is shot and killed. Now Johnny must bring Alan’s killer to justice.
- The Villains: The man who stole the sword of honor and murdered Alan was Richard Sireno, the muscle and right hand man of crime boss, Rudy Anthony. They have masterminded quite the scam as they are shopping the sword of honor around to many interested buyers, but after they get the money from a buyer, they kill him, thus allowing them to sell the sword again to another buyer and repeat the process all over. Richard Sireno is played by Angelo Tiffe. I had previously seen some of Tiffe’s work in the Traci Lords film, Intent to Kill (that one also starred the incomparable Yaphet Kotto). I was not a fan of Tiffe in Intent to Kill as it felt like he was trying too hard, but I did like his work in Sword of Honor. The character of Richard Sireno is a loose cannon and there’s a rage bubbling under the surface that takes him on a darker path as the movie progresses.
- The Romance: Sword of Honor has given our hero Johnny a goal to shoot for and a quality villain to take down in the process. But action heroes are also known for having a pretty lady at their side and Sword of Honor honors that tradition and hooks up Johnny with his now dead partner’s sister, Vicky. If you think about this relationship it is a little creepy. But I’ve heard it said that one can’t grieve forever and that is especially true in action movies. So who am I to judge Johnny and Vicky using copulation as a coping mechanism for their mutual loss.
- The Action: As expected, Leigh delivers the goods in the fight scenes he has in this film and it is where Leigh really shines. Johnny’s final battle with Sireno has a pretty memorable conclusion as well. But Leigh is not the only one who gets a piece of the action in this one. There’s actually a bodyguard battle at a dance club as Rudy Anthony’s bodyguard takes on prospective sword of honor purchaser Yoshimo’s bodyguard. The song ends, the two bodyguards go on the dance floor, the floor clears and the people who were just dancing and having a good time, quickly become blood thirsty spectators as the two tough guys kick the crap out of each other. That is the type of scene that could only happen in an action flick. Well that scene and the scene where Johnny nearly gets killed at a hot dog stand.
Did Steven Vincent Leigh pass the test? I am going to say no. Leigh was almost there, but just not quite. And considering he never had another starring role after this one, I guess I’m not the only one who felt that way. In fact, Leigh hasn’t done any acting since 2002.
But Sword of Honor was a noble effort by all involved. I think the movie could have benefited from having another seasoned actor with a little name value in the action world even in a small role, just to give it a little something extra.
And now I’ll give you the readers a little something extra with some bonus Bullet Points…
- Family Affair: Cleveland’s own Tiffe Family is all over this movie. I already mentioned Angelo Tiffe who played Richard Sireno, I did not mention that Rudy Anthony was played by his brother Jerry Tiffe. Their brother Robert Tiffe directed, wrote and played one of the detectives in the movie. Even their parents got in on the action. Ma Tiffe aka Angie Tiffe played the lady at the coffe shop and Pa Tiffe aka Raymond Tiffe played a customer at the coffee shop.
- The More You Know: Early on in the film, Johnny and Alan go to Vicky’s martial arts school where they demonstrate to a group of kids how to defend themselves if somebody attacks them with a sword. This is a valuable lesson for any child to learn since sword attacks are so common in today’s world.
- Planet Fightness: Having never gone to a gym in my life, I’m not sure if this is common place or not but while training at the gym, Johnny and Vicky are harassed by some muscle heads and a fight breaks out. If this sort of thing happens all the time, I can see why a lot of people sign up for a gym membership, go for a few weeks and then never return.
- Guilty: I find the movie Sword of Honor guilty for not taking care of a small detail. There is a scene in the first few minutes of the film that involves a high priced auction taking place. Items are being sold for millions of dollars, yet the auctioneer can’t afford a gavel, he just uses an upside down glass to end the auction. Come on movie! Get it together!