Bullet Points: True Vengeance
Up to this point my reviews of movies starring Daniel Bernhardt have been at opposite ends of the spectrum. First I did the miserable Bloodsport IV: The Dark Kumite. That movie was so bad I nearly swore off Bernhardt movies forever. But as I often do, I gave Bernhardt a second chance with Bloodsport II and I had a much more positive viewing experience and I knew it was only a matter of time before I’d be watching Bernhardt kick some bad guys on my TV again.
In this installment of Bullet Points, I’m going to take a look at Bernhardt’s 1997 direct to video movie, True Vengeance.
- The Premise: Bernhardt plays Allen Griffin, a man with a past in both the military and the Yakuza. Griffin has put it all behind him however and is now a single dad raising his daughter Emily. Unfortunately for Allen and Emily, Allen’s past comes back to haunt him. The Yakuza abducts Emily and uses her as an incentive to get Allen Griffin to do one more job for them, kill the CEO of a tech company. I’m not sure if they made it known that this CEO was moving jobs out of the United States in favor of cheaper labor outside the country so the American audience had one more reason to understand why Allen agreed to do the job.
- The Job: Yakuza boss Hidako Minushoto assigns his man Oska Yuhiro to drive Allen to the job. But Minushoto has ulterior motives, once Allen kills the CEO, Oska has orders to kill Allen! Well two out of three people in that equation do end up dead and since Daniel Bernhardt is the star of the movie, I am sure you have assumed that the CEO and Oska are the two that end up dead and that would be a correct assumption on your part.
- The Plot Thickens: As the movie goes on we learn that the issues between the Yakuza and Allen Griffin aren’t just business related, they are personal. Allen was married to Minushoto’s daughter, making Emily, Minushoto’s granddaughter. Allen blames Minushoto for the death of his wife, Minushoto blames Allen for the death of his daughter.
- The Cops: Naturally when a CEO of a major tech company and a member of the Yakuza are found dead, the authorities are going to get involved. When the police discover that the CEO had a hidden camera in his office, they soon have a suspect in the murders, Allen Griffin. Since Griffin is an ex-Navy SEAL, this case attracts the attention of Naval Intelligence and they send Lt. Kada Wilson (Beverly Johnson) to work on the case along with Detective Bill Emory (Jonathan Lutz who you may remember from Traxx).
- The Specialist: So now you have the cops, Naval Intelligence and the Yakuza all hunting down Allen Griffin, who at this point has escaped them each time, no doubt driven by the goal of rescuing his daughter. So Minushoto calls in The Specialist (Miles O’Keeffe of Marked Man fame) to take care of his Allen Griffin problem once and for all. This leads to a pretty awesome final confrontation between Allen and The Specialist that involves both hand to hand combat and a good old fashioned sword fight!
True Vengeance is sort of a pot luck of action movies. You’ve got the father/daughter dynamic from Commando, then there’s the whole Yakuza aspect found in any number of movies, not to mention the tried and true vengeance piece and let’s not forget the police man hunt part too.
I will never fault a movie for taking things that work from other movies, but there are times when movie mashups like this can go awry. That was not the case for True Vengeance, the movie made all the elements work together and it was a great vehicle for Bernhardt.
Here are a few bonus True Vengeance Bullet Points…
- Military Flashback: Another common action movie technique used by True Vengeance is the “open the film with a military flashback” trick.
- Dumb Question: When Allen realizes his daughter is missing and he goes to a playground full of kids and asks some of them, “Have you seen a little girl?” Don’t believe your teachers, there really are dumb questions.
- What a Maneuver: In the final fight between Allen and The Specialist, Allen delivers a “Superman Punch” that would make WWE’s Roman Reigns jealous.
- 360: One thing I did not care for in True Vengeance was the use of a 360 degree camera technique when people were having a conversation. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.
- Grandfather of the Year?: I doubt Minushoto will be winning the Grandfather of the Year Award after having his own granddaughter kidnapped and then locked in a room that only had 24 hours worth of oxygen.