5 Questions: Dragon Fire (1993)
An entire website could be devoted to the films produced by the legendary Roger Corman. Corman’s production credits go all the way back to 1954 and he’s still going today! I have to question at 90 years of age how the man still has the energy to take part in the movie making process, but I guess passion is a powerful thing.
But speaking of questions, after watching the Roger Corman produced Dragon Fire recently, I found myself asking some questions…
1. Why haven’t we covered any other Dominick LaBanca films on Bulletproof Action?
The answer to this question is a simple one. Other than Dragon Fire, there isn’t another movie out there that you can call a Dominick LaBanca film. Dragon Fire was LaBanca’s one and only starring role and according to IMDb, there was a 13 year gap between Dragon Fire and Dominick’s next movie role in Street Survival where he was a supporting player.
The more interesting question is why LaBanca’s action movie career played out the way it did or in this case didn’t play out. Was there some personal reason he stepped away from Hollywood? Did the safety and security of “civilian life” outweigh the days of auditions, hustle and legwork needed to turn a starving artist into a thriving one?
I am not trying to say LaBanca would have set the action movie world on fire, but he was no worse than some of his contemporaries who went on to make multiple movies in the 90’s direct to video era.
Dragon Fire is part martial arts movie and part mystery in the vein of Albert Pyun’s Bloodmatch. But it doesn’t take Jessica Fletcher to figure out Whodunnit?
Our movie begins with Johnny Powers (played by former K.I.C.K. Super Middleweight Champion Dennis Keiffer) becoming the underground fighting champion. Later that night an inebriated Johnny is assaulted by a mysterious masked man. During the struggle one of the masked man’s sleeves is rippped revealing a cobra tattoo, but seconds later the masked man snaps Johnny’s neck and runs off like a thief (or in this case murderer) in the night.
After Laker Powers (Dominick LaBanca) shows up to find out what happened to his brother, we get into the whole Whodunnit? portion of the movie. This should have added another level of interest in the movie, but while Laker has no clue, we the audience know that the murderer was a guy with a cobra tattoo. The possible suspect list shrinks pretty quickly when you realize it has to be the one significant character who is wearing long sleeves for the majority of the movie.
3. Can you guess who will be in the tournament finals?
In order to find out who killed his brother, Laker decides to get into the underground fighting circuit his brother competed in. Eddie doesn’t come to this decision all on his own and it was in great part due to the encouragement from his new found friends, Eddie and Slick. Eddie and Slick take Laker to the Junk Pit where the fights are held. While there scoping out the competition, he bumps into a massive individual known as Ahmed Mustafa. Mustafa is played by Michael Blanks, who is the brother of Billy Blanks of Showdown and TC 2000 fame.
If you saw this moment between Laker and Mustafa and didn’t immediately assume they would be squaring off for the championship, you need to have your action movie senses re-calibrated STAT. To add more fuel to the foreshadowing fire, when Mustafa takes on Eddie in one of the early rounds of competition, he ends up hospitalizing the poor guy making Laker’s issue with Mustafa all the more personal.
4. How many movies have used this line?
At one point in the movie, before the underground fights are about to begin, our host takes a moment to give a brief description of the rules… there are none.
In a movie filled with fighting flick clichés this one may be the most egregious. How many action movies have done some variation on the “no rules” line? At a minimum I would say 82.
5. Is it true that the movie Dragon Fire was T-Pain’s inspiration for his hit single “I’m ‘n Luv (Wit a Stripper)”?
According to a rumor (that I’m starting right now), when T-Pain was growing up in Tallahassee, Flordia one of his favorite movies was Dragon Fire. The movie features a romantic subplot between our hero Laker Powers and Marta. Marta is the sister of Laker’s friend Eddie and she is also a stripper. And trust me when I tell you Laker falls hard for Marta. I would go so far to say that Laker was in love with Marta, who I will remind you is a stripper. So it is easy to see how this movie would serve as the muse for one of T-Pain’s biggest hits, “I’m ‘n Luv (Wit a Stripper)”. For those of you not familiar with this rap ballad or for those of you who want to kick it old school, I have included a link…