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Greed becomes the main attraction in the world of underground kickboxing...
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Bref des films comme on en fait plus avec ce grain 90' que j'affectionne ! Des coups et de l'action y'en à avec un scénar' qui se tient . Un film que je remattrai avec plaisir..
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The story: fighter John Larson (Jacklin, Ring of Fire 2: Blood and Steel) was trying to go for the straight life when he finds out that his friend Nick (Nicholas Hill, "Bloodsport 2") disappeared following a fight in an underground circuit run by a shady businessman (Martin Kove, The Karate Kid) and his monstrous champion (Matthias Hues, I Come in Peace). Aided by a lady reporter (Renee Allman, The Stoned Age) and a scrappy street kid (Michele Krasnoo, Kickboxer 4: The Aggressor), John braves death by entering the circuit undercover to find his friend.
In addition to the aforementioned performers, we also have Steven Vincent Leigh ("Sword of Honor"), Benny Urquidez (Wheels on Meals), and Eric Lee ("Ring of Fire") in the cast, along with legitimate actor Jorge Rivero (Rio Lobo) as a mob boss and Roger Yuan (Shanghai Noon) and ex-wrestler Madusa Micelli among the tournament fighters. I'm also pretty sure I saw Peter Cunningham (No Retreat, No Surrender) in a couple fights, but he's not listed in the credits. Among the martial arts stars, only about half of them actually fight - Leigh, Urquidez, and Lee are limited to non-combative cameo roles - and a couple others only have very limited action scenes and/or screentime (see Kove, Krasnoo, and Yuan). While I'd expect this kind of underutilization of talent in Hollywood, it's even more appalling to see it happen in a B-grade martial arts movie which solely exists on the strength of physical performances - I mean, did the filmmakers really think the overdone storyline was good enough to skimp on potential martial arts dream matches?
Regardless, there are a lot of fight scenes to be had - thirteen, I believe - but the quality of these is another falling point of the film. The best one happens early on, when Nick and Ian take on a bunch of bodyguards and the former gets to show off his awesome kicking ability. Ian the star has a few neat moves throughout the show, but for the most part, he and all other performers are at the mercy of continual questionable fight rhythm, annoying slow motion inserts, and general so-so choreography that doesn't try to do anything you haven't seen a hundred times before. The two fights Ian has with Matthias Hues are particularly disappointing, both for their go-nowhere content and their abortive endings. Krasnoo's single outing lasts about fifteen seconds and ends with her needing to be saved by Ian. None of the brawls ever really have you on the edge of your seat, and the only folks who ought to find enjoyment in them are the admirers of big muscles - Hues is pumped.
In hindsight, the production values are fairly good, acting content is passable with Matthias Hues getting more speaking time than usual, the soundtrack kinda caught my attention, and for what it's worth, it's cool seeing tiny Michele Krasnoo get into fights with guys much bigger than her. Sadly, absolutely nothing stands out strongly enough to make up for the movie's heartbreakingly huge waste of talent, and in the end, only completionists will be interested in this one. Everyone else needn't lament that it never made it to DVD.
Ian Jacklin (Kickboxer 3, Ring of Fire 2)
Martin Kove (Karate Kid Series, Shootfighter)
Matthias Hues (Kickboxer 2, Black Belt)
Nicholas Hill (Bloodsport 2, Fists of Iron)
Michele Krasnoo (Kickboxer 4)
Eric Lee (Talons of The Eagle, Ring of Fire)
Steven Vincent Leigh (Ring of Fire, Deadly Bet)
Benny Urquidez (Wheels on Meals, Bloodmatch)
Unfortunately, despite the great cast, some of these are mere cameo appearances (such as Benny Urquidez) and the others have given much better performances, especially with martial arts skills, in their other starring films.
Despite the disapointment, the movie is still slightly above average than most Martial Arts flicks. The story consists of illegal cage fighting and betting, which is usually always fun to watch, however, the cage fights are not nearly as exciting as say Shootfighter. The acting isn't too bad, and despite the fact that 1/2 the formentioned actors don't show off their martial arts skills, it is great to see such an abundant cast together in one film.
Another disspointment is Matthias Hues. While he plays his usuall villain self, and does it convincingly well once again, his climactic fight is one of the most disspointing of all his films - short in time, lacking great skills, and just a bad ending fate.
Death Match is still a good movie overall. But the skills of these actors are above what the film offers.