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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Decent vigilante film, nothing more nothing less

Author: scorpion-52 from United States
31 December 2008

Well i'm surprised there aren't more comments for this film, seems that most people on here are bothered by the fact that's not particularly original, so what? Being unoriginal does not automatically make a film bad, and for the person who was bothered by the racist undertones, no offense pal but you're taking the film WAAAYYYY too seriously, this is the type of film were you don't think about logic and you just lay back and enjoy the mindless action. Kove is pretty bad ass in his role and i'm disappointed he didn't get the chance to star in more of these types of films then he did, though he did eventually end up in one of the Project:Shadowchaser films which i'll try and check out in the future, as it stands this film is pretty mindless and forgettable, but for people like me who couldn't care less about intelligence in films, that's hardly a bad thing.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Martin Kove at his best!

Author: Comeuppance Reviews from United States Minor Outlying Islands
18 February 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"You Don't Recruit John Steele. You Unleash Him." Lt. John Steele (Kove) is a man who plays by his own rules. He survived the horrors of the Vietnam war, including being trapped in a cave with "ratbombs", or bombs strapped to rats. Now, in the "present day", both he and his 'Nam buddy Lee (Robert Kim) are L.A. cops. Helping them in their quest to take down the evil drug-dealing gang the Black Tigers is Reese (Casey). When the Black Tigers do something really, really bad (I'm a master at avoiding spoilers), Steele straps two bandoliers of bullets to his bare chest and gets the only kind of justice he can...STEELE JUSTICE! Released in the prime of the video-store action glut of the 80's, despite its killer cast of favorites, it's fairly easy to see why Steele Justice got overlooked at the time. If a video store patron wanted this type of fare, are they going to spend their hard-earned money on a Rambo film or a Schwarzenegger vehicle, or Steele Justice? Thus it became a "die-hard action fan only" film. While it does have plenty of "shirtless shooting" and classic barfights, there are some things about the movie that are worth noting...

First off, John Steele (gotta love the name) has a gun that shoots knives. That's pretty memorable right there. But also he has a pet: Threestep the snake. He is named this because his poison is so deadly, you won't make it three steps before you die. Also, and this isn't said in the film, we can gather that Steele is a big fan of Lynyrd Skynyrd, especially the song "Gimme Three Steps". The bar he frequents also features the Desert Rose Band, featuring Chris Hillman of Byrds fame, so we know Steele likes country-rock. And speaking of his musical tastes, during a movie highlight, a car chase interrupts a video shoot for Astrid Plane (of Animotion fame), so we can also gather he hates 80's pop. Even though the video was choreographed (and perhaps stars) Jeff Kutash. And in true 80's fashion, there is a montage set to the song "fight fire with fire" by Hot Pursuit.

Sela Ward, as the love interest, appears heavily medicated. However, she does get to say the line to Steele, "The war isn't over for you. It just changed locations." Asher Brauner makes a brief appearance as "Mob Thug #1", and most of the names in the cast, including Shannon Tweed, Irene Tsu and Eric Lee make very short, almost walk-on roles.

Everybody knows/says the name "Steele" throughout the movie, and in true action movie fashion, it all ends in the typical abandoned warehouse. For generic 80's action that's so formulaic it can't miss, check out Steele Justice.

For more insanity, please visit:

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:


Author: bronsonskull72 from United States
3 July 2003

Martin Kove stars as John Steele an ex-vietnam vet who becomes a one man army when his partner (and fellow vietnam vet friend) is killed by an enemy of his in Vietnam. Silly actioner which has a huge bodycount, will no doubt satisfy those craving action, but will fail to keep anyone else from squirming, or laughing for that matter (Martin Kove's wound repair scene must be seen to be believed). Soon Tech Oh does make a good villian though.

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Midget Cowboy

Author: mmelling77-474-324042
12 September 2012

Look, I have no idea what was going on in this movie, but that's partly due to the fact that at one point, a midget cowboy, wearing sunglasses in a bar, sitting by himself, and rocking to some random country band had me so excited, that I basically had to sign up on IMDb so I could tell everyone that this movie has a midget cowboy in it.

I thank the Netflix Gods for his sublime performance.

Oh, and apparently, all Asians know martial arts, and then they use the arts whenever they're least needed (I've heard this is true).

It certainly isn't Citizen Kane (that movie was in black in white), but it is the greatest movie ever made in color (named Steele Justice).

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

the only justice is me

Author: ThingyBlahBlah3 from an eeeevil oil rig in Baja
31 December 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I wouldn't pay a cent to see this movie, but if it's available free On Demand, there are worse ways to kill 90 minutes. Every 80s action cliché is on display, although there are a few fresh spins here and there; a car crashes through a trailer, and it's the trailer that inexplicably explodes into a huge fireball, not the car. Similarly, it's the police chief's recklessness (instead of his stupidity) that constantly undermines the hero. And there's a bit at the end where the bad guy is using the hero's ex-wife as a shield whose resolution was a nice surprise.

For a low-budget piece of crap, the cast is halfway decent, although understandably they're not doing their best work here. Martin Kove seemed to have a sense of humor about the whole thing, and he's fun to watch. Ronny Cox does a neat riff on the aforementioned clichéd chief, and Bernie Casey is always welcome; he's one of the few guys I truly believe would be back at work two hours after taking a bullet to the abdomen. Sela Ward (aka the former Mrs. Gregory House) shows up to whine and try to stop Steele from doing what a man's gotta do, etc. And the mighty Al Leong manages to get blown away twice, and even has a few lines of dialogue this time around.

Soon-Tek Oh is a decent bad guy, but like every other reviewer pointed out, once you see him in that blue muumuu, it's kind of hard to take him seriously. Hannibal Lecter in that muumuu? Not scary. Darth Vader in that muumuu? Not scary.

As for Steele himself, it's worth noting that for most of the movie, he's falling-down drunk and is always on the losing end of every fight. Then when it's time for vengeance, cue up a sub-Rocky montage complete with a hilariously bad 80s rock song, and suddenly he's the Terminator. He even manages to infiltrate a secret Army testing center (which seems to be located right in the same neighborhood where everything else takes place) and steals a top secret Army tank-like thingamajig, driving right past a bunch of guards who don't even try to stop him.

All in all, a classic piece of 80s b-grade nonsense.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

The video box's cover art is about as cool and exciting as this movie looks...

Author: David Choi from New Jersey, USA
28 July 1999

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Why, why, why do these formulaic "vigilante" movies keep proliferating by the numbers? Anyway, Martin Kove stars in this occasionally exciting action picture as Lt. John Steele, a disgruntled, Vietnam veteran. Steele unfortunately is not able to find his niche in America. For example, he keeps losing his jobs, he continues missing his many opportunities, and his wife, Tracey (Sela Ward) is divorcing him. Steele just a raging drunk.

Twelve years ago, in the year 1975 (STEELE JUSTICE takes place in 1987, a.k.a. the so-called "modern times."), Steele was an honorable soldier, fighting alongside with his friend, Lee Van Tranh (Robert Kim). The two were tough soldier boys, fighting in the Vietnam War at Chi Chu Province. Steele and Lee were ambushed by one of their most formidable allies, General Bon Soong Kwan (Soon Teck-Oh). Both Steele and Lee have fallen for Kwan's trap and they have taken the bait. Kwan has just embezzled 20 million dollars worth of "lost" CIA gold and now, he's leaving Vietnam as a rich man. As Kwan quoted himself, "The war is over." Kwan shoots both Steele and Lee, leaving them for dead... However, Steele is resilient, like so many other hardened souls...

Now heading to 1987, Steele must forget about his troubled past, and continue on with his life; but as he has gradually learned, the war isn't over, it has "just changed location." In a violent shoot-out, Steele's best friend and old Vietnam War buddy, Lee was shot and murdered by a ruthless group of underlings controlled by the modern Vietnamese Mafia in Southern California. Their emblem is best known as the "Black Tigers." People shall remember their name. Guess who are the ringleaders? They are none other than General Kwan himself, and his son, Pham (Peter Kwong). Kwan himself has now become a powerful drug lord in Southern California, systematically creating fear among the Vietnamese communities. His spread of narcotics and his reign of power are more powerful than ever...

It is now up to the aggressive, over-the-hill once proud marine John Steele to find a way to avenge the murder of his best friend, Lee, and Lee's family. Steele must also take care of Lee's daughter, Cami (Jan Gan Boyd) as well as fight the corrupted Vietnamese Mafia, the Black Tigers. Steele will take no prisoners as this tough-as-nails Vietnam Vet will unleash a new way to annihilate the sadistic drug lords... With no help from the skeptical police, Steele must utilize his own firepower and skill to stop Lee's murderers not to mention the elite drug traffickers...

John Steele obviously has a proclivity to use violent methods to teach the bad guys some respect. However, in real life, one must learn that "revenge" does not justify brutality...

STEELE JUSTICE is cliché, violent, and even jingoistic at times. It has bursts of action and there are tons of explosions in this film, but the retribution formula is so obtrusively used frequently that this once fresh and innovative concept has become mere platitude. STEELE JUSTICE offers absolutely nothing new to the action genre. In fact, the story of a bitter ex-military soldier going on a retaliation spree is strikingly baring resemblance to an earlier film, James Glickenhaus' THE EXTERMINATOR (1980). In turn, the character THE EXTERMINATOR is a rip-off of Charles Bronson in DEATH WISH (1974). Talk about credibility here, folks!

Again, STEELE JUSTICE is a trite, superficial action film that is indistinguishable from a whole bunch of already made action films, languishing on the video shelves. This film features a better cast than usual. Included in the ensemble are Ronny Cox, Bernie Casey, Asher Brauner, Al Leong, and (down guys), Shannon Tweed. She does sport a nice bikini. STEELE JUSTICE is a violent thriller that has some explosive firepower and a cool climax. (CAUTION: *SPOILER...* Anybody who intends to see this movie should skip the next two sentences.) This is where Steele uses a tank to blow away the bad guys. Now that is what he calls "Steele Justice!"

The high energy violence compensates for an otherwise routine action film that has Steele and company delivering too many wisecracks to each other as well. If you enjoy action films, STEELE JUSTICE is mediocre at best. There's enough action in this flick; but it's just the racially biased undertones which I also despise...

Frankly, this movie does have a lot more racial bigotry then intended. Asians especially may be offended by the stereotypes portrayed in this movie. (i.e. Asian youth gangs, etc.) If it were not for the potential racism, then this film might have had a chance of earning a higher rating. Oh well, too bad!

Yes, the video cover looks spectacular, but you cannot judge a movie by it's cover art...

RATING: *1/2 out of ****.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:


Author: John Seal from Oakland CA
17 November 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There's plenty of laugh out loud fun to be had in this over the top action flick. The completely talentless Martin Kove stars as the Rambo-style John Steele--not to be confused with John Steed--who likes to paint his face with camouflage and goes into action with his pet snake wrapped around his neck. When his Vietnam War-era nemesis relocates to Southern California and murders Steele's old sidekick Lee(Robert Kim) in order to protect his narcotics business, our hero leaps into action, daubs himself with war paint, and finds himself the biggest gun possible. There's an absolutely awful performance by Jan Gan Boyd as the deceased Lee's daughter, who brings new meaning to the words 'perky' and 'cloyingly annoying'. Also on hand are familiar faces such as Joseph Campanella as a fellow vet harboring a terrible secret, Bernie Casey as a weary cop who somehow survives getting shot in the stomach, and reliable Al Leong as (big surprise here) a villain. This awful film is compulsively watchable and comes highly recommended to fans of the sublimely dreadful.

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0 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Boring Actioner

Author: Skutter-2 from Perth, Australia
18 March 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A movie starring Martin Kove, aka the evil Sensei from the Karate Kid movies, vrs. an Asian crime syndicate ran by Soon-Tek Oh, one of those familiar Hollywood Asians from the eighties who I remember as the head baddie from Missing in Action 2? Sounds like it should be can't miss eighties cheese but unfortunately it is no Action Jackson.

It is mostly dull by the numbers cop movie with a Vietnam back-story, which seemed to be in vogue at the time for cop movies ala Lethal Weapon. Ex Viet Nam vet and ex cop John Steele (Don't you love silly macho cop names?) takes on a drug syndicate, lead by the traitorous south Vietnamese general who almost killed him in the war, after they kill his old partner and war buddy and his family, except for his teenage daughter who Steele has to protect. There is not enough action, cheesy or otherwise, to keep things interesting. The story and a lot of individual scenes develop in such an awkward fashion at times that it seems that the version I saw may have been an edited one, although it is possibly just bad storytelling. For example a character, a friend of Steele, we have barely seen for most of the movie is revealed to be in cahoots with the evil syndicate prompting not a reaction of surprise from the audience but a reaction of puzzlement as to who this guy actually is. Supporting the editing apologist theory is a least one picture on the back of the video case of a scene which doesn't occur in the version of the movie I saw. Supporting the bad writing theory is pretty much the rest of the movie.

Most ludicrous is the syndicate's motivation in trying to track down and kill the daughter of the cop and war buddy of Steele, who was murdered early in the movie. They have absolutely nothing to gain by killing her, other than to possibly make themselves more intimidating in the eyes of the community they were intimidating in originally murdering her family i.e. saying nobody gets away from us! It really seems a bit redundant to do so seeing as they have already massacred the rest of the family, including her mother and aged grandmother and everybody is already scared of them. Maybe it is meant to be indicative of a stereotypically strong Asian work ethic or maybe it is just an obvious and lazy plot device to keep things moving beyond Steele's revenge motivation. The syndicate does go to great lengths to kill this one completely unthreatening teenage girl. As with other dumb cop movies of this era such as Cobra the baddies end up committing multiple murders and other crimes in broad daylight with impunity in front of many, many witnesses just to get to one person. The most notable scene like this is one of the most memorable and goofy in the movie, when a really bad music clip/fashion show/montage, that is bizarrely inserted into the middle of the movie, is interrupted by the gun wielding baddies who end up blowing away half of the backup dancers. They were already eighties fashion victims, why not become eighties crime victims?

There are a few memorable bits and pieces in Steele justice. The video clip massacre is one. Another is John Steele's strange proclivity for wandering around with his pet snake, most prominently in the Viet Nam prologue where, yes, he is seen sneaking commando style into an enemy based with a brightly coloured snake hanging from his neck. Strangely enough he seems to have the exact same snake, which is deadly poisonous and remarkably domesticated, as a pet 12 years later. This leads to another the movies few memorable moments, Steele's dispatching of one of the main villains in a manner that seems a precursor to the death of Bill in Kill Bill- remember the snake is called 3-step. Another memorable moment from the Nam intro is the part in which Steele appears to fire a knife from his gun. Later in the movie Steele gets his own Rocky style montage in which we get to see him train before his onslaught against the bad guys complete with him running on the beach, working out etc. complete with really bad eighties pop music. For some reason it is intercut with shots of his love interest and the teenage daughter sitting around in a kitchen not really doing anything. It is apparent here more than any other time in the movie how odd a choice Kove is to be a leading man with his thuggish looks and creepy smile. On the other side of the coin Soon-Tek Oh as the villainous general Kwan looks rather unthreatening, if not downright cuddly at times. Especially in the scenes where is he is wearing a Muumuu. Nobody wearing a Muumuu is threatening, especially not the one he is wearing, which is effeminate even by Muumuu standards.

There is an impressive B-movie cast including- Sela Ward, who played the Ex, one way or another of Dr. Richard Kimble and Dr. Gregory House as Steele's love interest and predictably brittle ex. Ronny Cox, from a lot of things, perhaps most notably as villains in no less than two Paul Verhoeven sci-fi action flicks and as the guy who doesn't come back from the trip down the river in Deliverance, as the chief of police who predictably has a chip on his shoulder about Steele's loose cannon behaviour. Al Leong, Asian Hench De Rigueur who you may have seen in movies such as Die Hard and Action Jackson, as an Asian Henchmen who predictably tries to kill Steele.

In summation, despite a few amusing moments it's boring.

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1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:


Author: gridoon
16 December 2002

After watching this movie, you're not likely to wonder why Martin Kove didn't get the chance to make any more starring vehicles. It's unforgivably bad technically by 1987 standards. What's up with that green glow that accompanies every single shooting or explosion? What's up with the scenes that appear to move in fast motion? And why does Shannon Tweed have only two brief scenes? (*1/2)

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