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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Entertaining martial-arts film with cool premise

Author: EnriqueH from Miami, Fl.
2 August 2003

This seemingly low-budget film is among my favorite martial-arts films of all time even though the plot is a shameless copy of "Enter the Dragon"----minus Dragon's production values. You have the leader of a cult on his own island leading hundreds of followers. At the island, the daughter of a senator is among the followers and Joe Lewis is recruited to get her out. To do that, he enlists the help of five colleagues.

I think what makes this movie stand above most martial arts films is that you have a charismatic group of martial artists working as a team when they infiltrate the bad guy's island. Director Robert Clouse, who also directed Enter the Dragon, really played up the "team" factor and I think that's the element that makes the film work.

The actors aren't anything extraordinary, but anyone looking for Brandos or Oliviers here deserve what they get. I was surprised this was only one of two movies Joe Lewis ever made. I certainly thought he had the look and personality to carry a few more martial-arts films, but hey.

Richard Norton, who played Ezekial, went on to great success in the straight-to-video world. A charismatic performer, he made a few pretty entertaining martial arts films over the years, some with fellow martial-artist Cynthia Rothrock.

My favorite of the team was Sonny Barnes, who plays the cheesily named "Lockjaw". Barnes never really did much else after this, except for a Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney music video, which is a shame because I really enjoyed him in this.

You can tell the budget went to the famous martial-artists in its cast because the locales and everything else in the film looks cheap.

Aside from Lewis and Norton, you also have Benny "The Jet" Urquidez in the cast, and Master Bong Soo Han, who played the villain. Some martial-arts fans will recognize Han as Billy Jack's partner in "Trial of Billy Jack" during the climatic fight scene.

As for the fight scenes, many of them are really good. Clouse takes full advantage of the fact he has an A-Team of martial-artists as stars and shows off their skills many times throughout the film, (even though most of the time they are fighting what are obviously a bunch of wannabe extras). Some of the stunts work, others bomb, but in the end, I really liked the movie. I also really liked the catchy title theme by William Goldstein. Some of my buddies think it's cheesy as hell, but I get a kick out of it.

I wonder if Quentin Tarantino had this film in mind when wrote dialogue for "Pulp Fiction". In that film, Uma Thurman's character, Mia, said she starred in a pilot called, "Fox Force Five".

Anyway, this is enjoyable for fans of the genre. The team factor makes all the difference, and there seemed to be potential here for sequels since I really enjoyed watching the cast work together.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Really tacky.

4/10
Author: gridoon
27 July 2004

The only thing "Force: Five" proves is that the chances of finding a good American martial-arts film are about as many as those of finding a good Hong Kong Western. Yes, the film stars real martial artists who obviously know their stuff, but keep in mind that:

a) most of them can't act (Richard Norton is excepted)

b) most of the time they're fighting useless morons who stand around like sitting ducks, waiting to be kicked.

And how about the fact that the doors of the rooms where the "bad guys" keep their drugs-and-guns-for-sale and the dead bodies of their victims are unlocked and unguarded?

Cheap and stupid. But the actors sure know how to kick high. (*1/2)

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"Thank God for Black an' Decker!"

7/10
Author: Scott LeBrun (Hey_Sweden) from Canada
6 April 2014

This is sometimes silly but easy to take martial arts escapism that benefits from its spin on director Robert Clouses' genre formula. In this instance, the "hero" is a collection of five specialists (hence the title) who never have a hard time wading through many bad guys. Other than some interesting touches (the bull, the intense torture sequences) this isn't of any real distinction, it's just decent undemanding fun. The cast in this thing aren't great as actors - some of them, anyway - but when it comes to kicking ass, they accomplish their mission. The movie, a remake of the earlier feature "Hot Potato", has an acceptable pace to it and a moderately entertaining finale (although it really doesn't have much action in it).

A bunch of performers familiar to fans of B movies are featured in this straightforward story of Jim Martin (Joe Lewis) hired to retrieve a brainwashed rich girl from the clutches of religious cult leader Reverend Rhee (Bong Soo Han). For the mission, he assembles a team of four associates: Lockjaw (Sonny Barnes), Ezekiel (Richard Norton), Billy Ortega (Benny Urquidez), and Laurie (Pam Huntington), and also breaks Willard (Ron Hayden) out of prison so he can serve as their helicopter pilot.

One may have to suspend their disbelief with this, but it *is* amusing in any event. As was said, there's not a lot of action, and our heroes have such little trouble with the enemy that some viewers may feel underwhelmed. It's fairly violent at some points but isn't as gory as viewers might want it. Production design, photography, and music are all adequate, and you might derive some entertainment from seeing people such as Peter MacLean (the sheriff in "Squirm") as a drunken senator, Amanda Wyss ("A Nightmare on Elm Street") as Cindy, Tom Villard ("Popcorn") as one of Rhees' many disciples, and Mel Novak ("Game of Death") as an inept assassin.

Watchable enough for devotees of this genre.

Seven out of 10.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

What more do you want in a martial arts movie?

Author: (mlinnema@aci.ameritech.com) from Wisconsin, USA
9 April 2000

This movie rocks! Not only is the action top notch, but it isn't being performed by a bunch of Hollywood "actors" who took karate lessons for a couple of weeks. I am talking about living legends of the martial arts. Master Han, the indelible Mr. Joe Lewis, not to mention "the jet". Team of five must rescue a girl from a island fortress ruled by a ruthless religious leader. Constant action and great "action" music. If you liked any martial arts movies made before 1985, then this will NOT dissapoint. Find it, rent it, buy it, watch it and thank me later.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Farce: Five...

2/10
Author: poe426 from USA
2 November 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's amazing when one stops to think about it: Robert Clouse directed perhaps the greatest martial arts movie of them all (ENTER THE DRAGON), then proceeded to plummet downhill as fast as he possibly could. He went from the very apex (although I actually prefer the fight scenes in WAY OF THE DRAGON and GAME OF DEATH- as seen in the documentary A WARRIOR'S JOURNEY, anyway- to those in ENTER THE DRAGON) to fumbling through more BAD movies than your average Z-grade director. Once again, Joe Lewis is the sole saving grace in a film (the other was JAGUAR LIVES!); by dint of his performance (which should've been expanded, since he was the only actor worth his chops in this one), he makes this one worth watching- despite Clouse's aforementioned propensity for screwing up potentially good action movies. (Come on: GAME OF DEATH, GYMKATA...?) FORCE: FIVE is essentially a remake/ripoff of ENTER THE DRAGON, by a man who should've known better.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

bad acting bad plot,bad sound effects,but some good fight scenes and lots of fun

8/10
Author: disdressed12 from Canada
15 April 2007

forget about acting,plot or dialogue.they are all bad.this is pure martial arts movie and not much else.most of the fight scenes are pretty good,though a few are also pretty lame.there are lots of plot holes and inconsistencies in this one.if these kind of thing bother you,forget this movie.you will be very disappointed.if you enjoy pure action,this may be your movie.many of the people in the movie are martial arts champions of the day and that doesn't usually mean good acting(except for Chuck Norris).the sound effects are of course,horrible,which is not at all surprising,since the budget was probably non existent.this movie is hard to find and like many films of that era and genre,is now considered a classic.i found the movie entertaining,due to the bad acting,bad sound effects and plot holes.you can have a lot of fun picking apart the movie(and i mean,a lot of fun)or you can just sit back,shut your brain of and be entertained.either way,(if this is your kind of film)i think you will have fun for about 90 minutes. "Force Five"is a 8/10* for me

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Not bad to be sure.......but far from Clouse's best

6/10
Author: HaemovoreRex from United Kingdom
11 November 2008

It seems that director Robert Clouse was hit by a brain wave one day; that by basically mimicking his very own Kung Fu classic, Enter The Dragon, he might likewise repeat the financial returns. Sadly, as good as the idea seemed on paper, in practice it didn't quite come off as evidenced with the resultant film in question. Ultimately, this just doesn't have the star power of the incomparable Bruce Lee to drive it and in all honesty, there simply isn't enough action on show to make it particularly memorable as a martial arts film either.

Having said this, the film is a fairly enjoyable little romp in its own right and certainly boasts an amazing assemble of martial arts stars on show with the likes of genuine kickboxing legends, Joe Lewis and Benny Urquedez (who fares the best in this film, fight wise) plus Australian martial arts sensation and star of many a B-movie, Richard Norton (here sporting a particularly bad goatee!) and in the main villainous role, a genuine Hapkido master in the shape of Bong Soo Han. Certainly, the incredible line up was my main reason for tracking this hard to find flick down in the first place and whilst I can't in all honesty state that it is a classic by any stretch of the imagination, I will say that it is certainly worth a watch if you are a fan of the genre.

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