(Original Publication Date: July 30th, 2017) By: John M jerva
Review: DEATH FIGHTER
Starring: Matt Mullins, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Cynthia Rothrock, Chiranan Manochaem, Jawed El Berni, Gigi Velicitat and Joe Lewis
Directed By: Toby Russell
Official Synopsis: “When an American cop witnesses his mentor’s murder in a trade deal gone wrong, he finds himself on the wrong side of the law in Thailand. But despite the bounty on his head and pressure to leave the country, he teams up with an ex-military mercenary out to settle a score of his own to bring the killers to justice. Their quest for vengeance brings them face-to-face with a band of notorious criminals who vow to take them down if the jungle’s natural elements don’t kill them first.”
The Review: Is It Action-Flix Approved? DEATH FIGHTER was formerly known as WHITE TIGER at one time and has taken a long road to reach the light of day for action fans to see. The film was actually shot a few years ago and because of distribution problems, the film was shelved for a while. Now under the new title and a new distribution deal, we finally get to revel in all the martial arts and action awesomeness of seeing legends of fight cinema team up again for a rousing throwback of old school kick ass action that lit up video store shelves back in the late 80’s and 90’s. Martial arts icons Don “The Dragon” Wilson and Cynthia Rothrock, who both starred in numerous action packed fight films back in the day, make a triumphant return to the genre that they both owned for decades. To see both of them on screen kicking ass once again put a grin on my face from ear to ear and it was like it was 1992 all over again. Joining them for the excitement is extreme martial artist and five time world martial arts champion Matt Mullins (BLOODFIST 2050, MORTAL KOMBAT: LEGACY) who brings his own breathtaking moves to the screen in a flurry of spins and leaps that will make you want to rewind his fight scenes and watch them again. The man is basically a human tornado and he is fun to watch. All three Karate bad asses bring their own to the fight scenes and offer the audience different flavors of on screen fighting. It was truly worth the wait to watch the film!
Mullins stars as FBI agent Michael Turner, who with his veteran and grizzled partner Conrad (played by the late, great Karate legend Joe Lewis in his final performance), are after a nasty and lethal smuggler named Draco (Velicitat) in Thailand. When a stake out of a trade deal goes bad, Conrad is gunned down in cold blood by Draco. Swearing revenge, Turner defies the local authorities who want him to leave and he launches his own kill mission to take down Draco at all costs. The only problem is, Draco is deep within the jungles of Asia and he is going to need help. Enter ex-special forces soldier turned Mercenary Bobby Pau (Wilson). Pau has his own beef with Draco and he reluctantly agrees to help the young warrior take down Draco and his murderous elite fighters Valerie (Rothrock) and Peter (El Berni). Along the way, they get help by a relief worker named Yui ( Manocheam) and Pau’s go to comrade Otto (Prasit Suanphaka). Yui isn’t as innocent as she looks and is a skilled and lethal warrior in her own right. The jungles of Southeast Asia light up with immense firepower and stiunning martial arts carnage as the four heroes take on an army to deliver justice.
As a long time lover of action cinema and martial arts action in particular, I couldn’t help but relish in all the old school greatness that was on hand. In an age of CGI super heroes, it is refreshing to see good ol’ fashion stuntwork and practical effects. There is some CGI but it is hardly noticeable and the film even gets bloody with traditional blood squibs. The action plentiful and there isn’t a lot of downtime between action sequences. DEATH FIGHTER also does a great job in balancing the action between firefights and hand to hand combat. Wilson and Rothrock both get to showcase all their moves and to the delight of this viewer, we even get a spectacular climatic face off between the two legends. It’s truly a treat for the long time fans who have watched all of their films. Rothrock, who is always the good guy in her films, gets to turn on the evil charm as the vilainous Valerie and she excels at the chance to pay a baddie. This is Mullins’ movie however and he gets to take on his fair share of faceless assailants in numerous fisticuffs and he takes on martial arts wiz Jawed El Berni in a final, epic battle that is both flashy and brutal at the same time. Mullins needs to make more films and demonstrate to the world why he is a world champion. i will pay to see anything that he is in. Prasit Suanphaka, whose only film credit for what I can see is this film, gets to shine as well in a close quarters fight in the back of a truck. I would have loved to have seen more of him in the film’s numerous fight scenes.
The film was shot in Thailand and the country is its own character as well. We get to see the congested streets of the busy city and are treated to the breathtaking jungles that offer plenty of dangers for our heroes. The scenery really is something to behold and it gives the film a traveled and authentic feel to it. A lot of films these days are shot in front of a blue or green screen so to see all that Thailand has to offer was truly a welcome sight.
To Sum it all up, DEATH FIGHTER is a rousing action packed throwback of fist, feet and firepower that will delight fans of the genre. Iconic legends Don “The Dragon” Wilson and Cynthia Rothrock are back in a big way and they prove to us that they can still kick ass and take names with the best of them. Seeing them together on the screen will surely put a big smile on your face. Matt Mullins excels in the heroic lead role and he shows off all his signature moves that demonstrates why he is a world champion. Mullins needs to make more films and it would be great to see him team up with some of the action genre’s stars like Scott Adkins. If the two of them ever faced off, it would truly be a sight to behold. If you’re a longtime fan of the action cinema and the great days of VHS, then you need to pick up a copy of DEATH FIGHTER and bask in all the martial arts goodness that it has to offer.
VERDICT: ACTION-FLIX APPROVED!