By: John M Jerva
Welcome to FOOT FIST FRIDAYS! A weekly dose of fight action where the Action-Flix.com experts share their thoughts on some of the greatest scenes of fisticuffs in action cinema history!
We’ve got a first for all of you on Foot Fist Friday as instead of talking about one epic fight sequence from a movie, we’re going to talk about the entire movie. The film of the hour is Broken Path and it stars former Power Ranger and martial arts badass Johnny Yong Bosch in a movie that is essentially one long fight sequence after one long fight sequence. It’s mayhem and power fueled bone breaking carnage this week so enjoy!
In the history of film, there are those hidden gems that for whatever reason have not received a proper release in the U.S. or elsewhere. The film industry is a business that sometimes swallows up good movies and instead of being viewed in countless living rooms, they live in obscurity.
One such film is the 2008 marathon fight flick Broken Path which hails from director and martial arts maestro Koichi Sakamoto who has delivered numerous jaw dropping action films and television shows by way of directing them or serving as the fight and action coordinator. Sakamoto is best known for directing various episodes of Power Rangers as well as Japanese shows like Kamen Rider. Sakamoto also worked on Guyver 2: Dark Hero, where he introduced us to the GUYVER Kick which Scott Adkins continued to make popular. He is also responsible for Mark Dacascos’ classic Drive which is considered by many to be his best film. Ironically, one of Dacascos’ other best films Crying Freeman is one that hasn’t seen a release here and that’s a story for another time. The man flat out knows how to choreograph fights and action.
Broken Path stars talented martial artist and actor Johnny Yong Bosch who starred in many episodes of the Power Rangers and here he is front and center playing the role of Jack Ellis who is a happily married man with a past. A past that’s so dark, he has to keep moving his family around and one peaceful day it comes calling as a band of ruthless mercenaries cloaked in masks descend upon his isolated ranch looking for payback. They are led by Yoshi who is played by fellow badass Daniel Southworth. You’ve seen the plot numerous times. The man with a mysterious past who has left it all behind to start anew only to have to dust off his particular set of skills to defend those he loves from very bad people he used to call allies.
The first 10 minutes or so is all talk and build up and the plot, the thinnest of plots mind you, is established and we get to know Ellis, his wife and daughter before the bloodletting begins. This is one of those kinds of movies where plot and character development take a backseat and the film becomes one insane, super charged action epic where all that are involved become superhuman and annihilate one another over 90% of the film. Broken Path is a gleeful marathon of brutal, jaw dropping, bone shattering martial arts action where even you the audience will feel like you’ve been through the ringer by just watching it. I compare it to a Jackie Chan or Tony Jaa film where, when viewing it, you wonder how the hell people didn’t get serious injured or worse die on the set. It’s that intense and Sakamoto should have been the choreographer on way more films throughout the years.
Leading the charge is Johnny Yong Bosch, who I had the pleasure of meeting at last year’s NYCC (you know, before social distancing became an ugly reality). Bosch is one of those rare talents where he can virtually defy gravity and make his body do things that you’d think only characters in an Anime film could do. He’s that crazy good people and he is probably one of the most exciting martial artists to watch in the genre. He needs to be a bigger star than he is. Somebody needs to team this man up with Scott Adkins STAT!
Every good guy needs an even better bad guy and here Daniel Southworth, best known for films like Isaac Florentine’s US SEALS 2, Ghost Rock and, of course, Power Rangers is especially evil as head Merc Yoshi who seriously wants to take Ellis out in a big way. There’s bad blood between the two and a lot of it is about to spill all over the place in this film. Southworth is a hidden gem himself in the fight game and with his skills and on screen presence, one has to scratch their head why this man didn’t become a bigger player in the martial arts and action genre. He is crazy good and his kicks have to be seen to be believed. He moves just as good if not better than anyone on Jackie Chan’s stunt team and he tears up the screen here.
Like I said, after the beginning the action is non-stop (and I mean NON-STOP) and unforgiving and it’s bloody and wince inducing at times. The best way to describe it is a blood soaked ballet of breaking limbs and awe inspiring choreography. Things happen to the performers in fights that would normally impede a person from continuing on or worst yet, kill them, but here you just have to suspend disbelief and go along for the crazy ride as one high-octane battle gives way to yet another high-octane battle. The only time the film slows down is when the credits role at the end. By that time, viewers will want to rewind the film and watch it again just to make sure they saw what they saw.
Koichi Sakamoto and his Aplha Stunts team are responsible for the mayhem here and here it is equal to none. I have to laugh because The Raid came along some three years later and changed the scope of action films but this film was here all along in purgatory and it is just as good in terms of action as that timeless classic. The rest of the cast including Motoko Nagino, Sonny Sison, Panuvat Anthony Nanakornpanom, and Tadahira Nakamura all bring their A game and all have their chance to shine in the film’s numerous displays of superhero feats.
Of course, the film is not perfect and the plot is non existent but that’s OK because even though it’s thin it serves its purpose and it generates the needed apathy for the characters and what they go through. Pamela Walworth who plays the wife Lisa and Lanie Taylor as the daughter Maddie are probably the weakest links in the film but for the sake of drama and reasoning they are needed to instill the right amount of caring so you want to see Jack survive this onslaught of mayhem.
To sum it all up, Broken Path is a film that needs a proper release and when I say that, I mean a special edition Blu-Ray with all the bells and whistles. It has seen a release overseas under names like Attack of the Yakuza and Broken Fist and while that’s great, it needs to be seen by a wider audience and respected for the ass kicking spectacle that it is. Distribution companies take notice. Broken Path is a film that fight fans want and I thank Michael Scott and resident Action-Flix contributor The Cinema Drunkie for reigniting my passion for this film. Scott started this campaign with his article at Film Combat Syndicate and The Cinema Drunkie continued it and more and more bloggers are fighting the battle to see that this film gets the release it deserves. Well I’m doing my part. This is the kind of film that reminds me of why I love the genre so much and started my website to further help promote it. It’s a shame that this film hasn’t seen the light of day the way it should and it is available to view on YouTube but that’s not good enough. Give us what we want and show this movie some respect! This is the way…..
This is the first time on Foot Fist Fridays where the whole movie itself is the action sequence that is being talked about because the film is the fight sequence. So if you haven’t checked it out, by all means, do so now and if you’re a true fan of these films then you will become a fan of this one. I think I’ve babbled on long enough. I will champion the cause to see that this film gets the respect it deserves and it’s time that more people saw it. Check out the glorious finale below and marvel in extreme martial arts action at its finest!