(Original Publication Date: March 11th, 2017) By: John M Jerva
REVIEW: FIST2FIST: 2- WEAPON OF CHOICE
STARRING: Jino Kang, Katherine Celio, Kelly Lou Dennis, Douglas Olsson and Artem Mishin
What’s It About: Jack Lee (Hapkido master Jino Kang) was the most dangerous assassin in the business. He was called “The Ghost” because he would strike without warning and leave no trace in his wake. He walked away from the business to raise the daughter of sister and brother-in-law and he has since led a quiet life with his niece Jamie (Dennis). When his former employer, Crime Boss Michael Banducci (Olsson) kidnaps Jamie in order to collect on a major payday and for payback, Jack must once again use the lethal skills that made him a legend and with the help of rogue police detective Ashlie (Ash) Jordan (Celio) he’s going to once again become a one man killing machine. The streets of San Francisco are about to run red with blood as “The Ghost” unleashes his deadly skills. It’s one man against an army but that one man is Jack Lee and that means the odds are even.
The Review: Fist2Fist: 2- Weapon of Choice is a sequel to Jino Kang’s 2011 film Fist2Fist in name only. Like Kang’s previous outings, Weapon Of Choice is a low budget independent action movie and even though it doesn’t have the budget of some films, it delivers on all cylinders. Kang might be one of the hardest working men in the business because he not only stars in the film but he co-directed it with Tony Urgo and he wrote, produced and served as the film’s fight choreographer as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kang also worked the cameras on the shoot. Don’t let the fact that it’s a low budget film deter you from watching it. What it lacks in budget, it definitely makes up for it with exhilarating action scenes and pulse pounding hand to hand combat fight scenes from one of action cinema’s newest kick ass action heroes. Kang is the real deal and when your star and fight choreographer is a 7th Degree Black Belt in Hapkido, a 1st Degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do, a 1st Degree Black Belt in Kyokoshinkai Karate and the founder of Hapki-Jitsu then you know that you are going to get fast paced, in your face unarmed combat at its most brutal and lethal. Once again, this indie movie shows the bigger studios how to shoot and properly edit fight scenes so the audience can see them and enjoy them. When Kang unleashes his fists and feet of fury we are treated to all the wonderful carnage and I guarantee you that you will want to rewind all the awesome action and watch it again.
As the star of the film, Kang is a soft spoken man of few words who lets his deadly skills do the talking for him. Just like Jason Statham, Kang knows his strengths and highlights them. He’s never going to portray somebody different and he knows it and that’s fine with him. He knows who he is and plays to all his attributes. Kang is following in the footsteps of some of the greatest on screen fighters like Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee and he’s holding his own just fine and then some. Kang also has a deep moral code that stems from the martial arts and it shows in his performances. Even though he is an assassin, he’s an honorable assassin who only gives his retribution to the people who deserve it.
The rest of the cast does an admirable job as well. Leading lady Katherine Celio serves as Kang’s partner on his mission and love interest. She is tough and beautiful at the same time and she is also a force to be reckoned with who even gets to shine in a nice fight scene during the second half of the movie. Kelly Lou Dennis who plays Jack’s niece Jamie is a force to be reckoned with. Even though she spends most of the film being kidnapped, she’s definitely no damsel in distress. There are plenty of moments where she gives her captors a taste of their own medicine. As the film’s heavy Michael Banducci, Douglass Olsson might just be one of the smoothest criminals ever to grace an action movie. If you didn’t know that he was the bad guy then you would probably want to ask him over for dinner. He’s in charge and everyone knows it so he doesn’t have to go off the deep end to get what he wants done.
The cinematography for the film is quite different from most indie action films also. You get to see sweeping, beautiful shots of San Francisco and it gives the film a higher quality look. Kang does the best with what he has and it shows in the finished production. He could have just shot the movie on a few soundstages but he chooses to show the locale around the actors and it just makes everything better.
Now lets talk about the most important thing…The Action! Like I said earlier, Kang is a master and the fight scenes in Weapon of Choice highlight that fact for all to see. The beginning of the film opens furiously as Kang’s Jack Lee tears his way through some unfortunate bad guys. It’s an exciting scene and it sets the tone for the film. Kang doesn’t use a lot of flash in his choreography like some do. Instead, he utilizes close quarter techniques that include a lot of body manipulation and take downs. There’s a lot of bone breaking and joint manipulation. It’s realistic and brutal and fun to watch.
The fight scenes are sprinkled throughout the first part of the film but it’s the last 20 minutes where the audience gets the pay off. The finale of the film has Kang infiltrating the enemy’s lair and it is there that he unleashes his one man army assault. There is a series of battles as Lee runs a gauntlet of soldiers in a warehouse. Jack takes them on both one at a time and many at a time. The fights consist of hands and feet, knives, spears, guns and more. It’s an action fan’s dream come true. The music that accompanies the ending is pulse pounding and enhances the action nicely. The final fight is executed with swords and Kang shows us how it’s done! I was smiling the whole time even when the credits rolled.
The one issue I had with the film is that it slowed down in the middle and had a few pacing problems. At a running time of 1 hour and 41 minutes, it might have helped to trim off 10 minute or so. It could have also benefitted from another action scene but maybe it wasn’t in the cards due to the budget. But this is a minor gripe and one I can look past.
To sum it all up, Fist2Fist: 2- Weapon of Choice is a highlight in the world of indie action moviemaking. I enjoyed Kang’s other offerings, Blade Warrior and Fist2Fist, and Weapon Of Choice is a definite upgrade and a sign that the future is bright for the martial artist and filmmaker. Jino Kang is the tough and brutal hero that action cinema so desperately needs. He’s authentic and you can tell that he takes a great deal of pride in his work. If you call yourself an action fan, then you need to add Weapon Of Choice to your collection. It makes the most of its low budget and delivers the action goods! When you think of kick ass, brutal independent action cinema, think Jino Kang!
Verdict: ACTION-FLIX APPROVED!
Fist2Fist: 2- Weapon Of Choice is now available on DVD and Digital Download sights like Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu and XBox, and it will make its debut in the UK on The Fight Channel this summer.
For more information on the film visit these sites: http://www.jinokang.com/films/fist-2-fist-2-weapon-of.html and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/WeaponOfChoiceMovie
Check out the trailer for the film: