The Essentials: Mark Dacascos
One of the things we pride ourselves of here at Bulletproof Action is honoring the men and women who make the action entertainment genre so great.
And one man who deserves to take a bow for all his contributions to the world of action entertainment is Mark Dacascos.
While Dacascos may not be a Hollywood A Lister, he is an A Lister in our book. So today, on his birthday, I decided to share the eight Mark Dacascos movies I felt were must see action movies. It is The Essentials: Mark Dacascos…
1. Only the Strong – While some fans may disagree with some of the choices I make on this list, I think it is universally accepted that Only the Strong is the quintessential Mark Dacascos movie. This is the movie that first introduced me to Dacascos the actor, the Brazilian martial art known as Capoeira and a soundtrack that is still stuck in my head. The role of Louis Stevens, a former Special Forces soldier who returns to his high school to help the school’s top miscreants and put them on the right path, is what I imagine Mark Dacascos is most like in real life. The fact that this movie has a supporting star like the late Geoffrey Lewis doesn’t hurt either.
2. China Strike Force – One of the great things about Mark Dacascos is he is just as convincing as a villain as he is the hero in an action movie. Some of the more widely recognized action stars could never pull that off. Dacascos’ character, Tony Lau, in the amazing China Strike Force reminds me a lot of Santino Corleone from The Godfather minus the back hair. But like Santino, Tony is an ambitious and driven gangster who knows there’s a lot of money in that white powder and instead of hanging out with the likes of Johnny Fontaine, Tony hangs out with Coolio!
3. Drive (1997) – Here is another Mark Dacascos movie I can’t recommend enough. First off, he has superhuman like powers in this one since his character is a bio-engineering prototype. Second, we get to see the entertaining pairing of Mark and Kadeem Hardison. The two click on screen and their forced partnership is the heart of this movie. But what about the action? Drive features some of the most unique fight scenes I have ever seen and I’ve seen a helluva a lot of fight scenes!
4. Crying Freeman – In 1995, Dacascos had the opportunity to bring a manga character to life in Crying Freeman. The movie features Dacascos taking on the entire Yakuza and featured supporting roles for Mako and Rae Dawn Chong. Dacascos actually lobbied for the role of the Crying Freeman. And it must have been fate that he got the role (a role originally intended for Jason Scott Lee of Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story fame), because Dacascos would also meet his wife, Julie Condra, on the set of the film. I’m betting Dacascos would put Crying Freeman on the top of his list.
5. American Samurai – Mark’s first major movie role was American Samurai and he showed a lot of potential in that early role. Dacascos’ character Kenjiro turns against his family and his adopted brother Drew (played by David Bradley) and joins the Yakuza. This leads to a memorable battle of the brothers in the film’s finale.
6. Cradle 2 the Grave – Another of Mark’s best villainous roles was in the Jet Li/DMX actioner, Cradle 2 the Grave. Dacascos’ character Ling may be best described as the straw that stirs the drink in Cradle 2 the Grave. Working along side Kelly Hu wasn’t a bad fringe benefit either. And *SPOILER ALERT* who will ever forget Ling’s demise in the movie?
7. DNA – Around these parts, Predator is considered the perfect action movie. Not many action stars would have the balls to try to replicate the Predator formula, but Mark Dacascos did in the 1997 movie, DNA. Does it come close to Predator on any level? Absolutely not, but I still enjoyed the film and watching Mark Dacascos as Dr. Ash Mattley having to return to his native roots to whoop some ass was entertaining. The movie also stars Jurgen Prochnow (Interceptor) and Roger Aaron Brown (Action Jackson).
8. Double Dragon – Some of you see Double Dragon on my list and you probably think, I am so blinded by my fandom of Mark Dacascos, that I think all of his movies are great. Not true, allow me to cite What Not To Watch: The Hunt for Eagle One to disprove your theory. Now I may have included Double Dragon on my list because it was filmed in my hometown of Cleveland. I may have included it because it also starred Alyssa Milano. Or maybe I included it because it is simply a fun movie, that doesn’t bother wasting time taking itself seriously since it is based on a freaking video game. And while some video game purists may poo poo on aspects of the movie, even they have to admit it is way better than Super Mario Bros. or Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.
Compiling this list has made me want to watch these movies all over again and check out some of the Mark Dacascos movies I haven’t seen yet.