Unsung Heroes: Fists of Iron
The more times I watch Fists of Iron, the more I love the film. When it comes to Michael Worth’s contributions to the action entertainment genre in the 1990’s I rank Fists of Iron at the top of the list (with Final Impact a close second). While I have never met the man personally, all evidence points to the fact that Michael Worth is a genuinely great human being, one of the reasons he made for a great action hero (his sweet martial arts skills didn’t hurt either).
While Worth had to share the heroic spotlight with Lorenzo Lamas in Final Impact, he was the #1 hero in Fists of Iron. Worth played Dale Hartwell, a young man who was looking to avenge his best friend Matt. Matt was killed during a kickboxing match with Victor “The Destroyer” Bragg (Matthias Hues) and Hartwell wants to fight Bragg more than life itself. Dale gets some help from his trainers Tyler Green (Sam Jones) and Daniel Lee (Eric Lee) and both of those men deserve credit for getting Dale ready to fight a man the caliber of “The Destroyer”.
But there are some characters in Fists of Iron who I don’t believe have received the credit and recognition that they deserve, they are the unsung heroes of Fists of Iron…
The Fight Fan
Cards on the table… this guy is the whole reason I came up with the concept for the Unsung Heroes feature on this site. I was looking for an excuse to talk about one of the greatest extras in action movie history.
In Fists of Iron, Marshall R. Teague’s character, Peter Gallagher, hosts kickboxing events at his palatial estate where well to do kickboxing enthusiasts watch and wager on the fights. But there is one kickboxing enthusiast who seems a little more enthusiastic than everyone else. With his red power tie and adult beverage in hand, this fight fan is having the time of his life as he cheers on underdog Dale Hartwell.
If you are passionate about the things you love, whether it is sports, music or movies, you have to respect a guy like this fight fan who wears his heart on his sleeve and takes the time to really enjoy what he is passionate about. If I ever met this man, I would buy him a drink. And I would hope he’d raise his glass in my direction as a show of appreciation for my show of appreciation. If you want to see this fight fan enjoying the hell out of some kickboxing be sure to check out this scene!
The Ring Announcer
I’m not sure why a high roller like Peter Gallagher could not afford some sort of public address system for his kickboxing events, but that did not deter the man who was tasked with ring announcing these events. Our unplugged ring announcer stands there in the ring and just belts out some introductions all the way from his diaphragm. I never once heard him complain either about not being provided a microphone. There was a job to be done and this ring announcer got it done. The world could use more people with that kind of work ethic. If you want to hear this ring announcer do his thing be sure to check out this scene!
Dale Hartwell is not just a kickboxer, he is a skilled mechanic and one of the running themes in the film has Hartwell running into a disgruntled customer, credited as Muscle-Head in the movie and played by the monstrous Nicholas R. Oleson. Muscle-Head hears a rattling noise on the truck that Hartwell basically brought back from the dead. Hartwell takes a listen, because”the customer is always right”, but when he doesn’t hear the rattle, he asks Muscle-Head to pay up and delivers a zinger suggesting that the rattle Muscle-Head hears may be due to a screw being loose. Muscle-Head refuses to pay and he and Hartwell get into it right there in the parking lot (while Dale’s boss cheers on no less). Later Hartwell bumps into Muscle-Head at a local watering hole and once again things get physical between the two of them and Muscle-Head still refuses to pay for the repairs to his truck.
In the final scene of Fists of Iron, Muscle-Head shows up at Hartwell’s house and this time he’s brought some of his gym buddies with him. But they aren’t there to rip Dale Hartwell limb from limb, no Muscle-Head’s friends wanted to see the man who beat their friend’s ass on two occasions. And Muscle-Head to his credit, in front of all his friends, finally pays up for the work Hartwell did on his truck. It takes a big man to admit you’re wrong, it takes an even bigger man to do that in front of your boys. Muscle-Head was a big man literally (the man stood 6’8″) and figuratively. Sadly, Oleson is receiving this honor posthumously as he passed away from a heart attack at the age of 31 back in 1997.