Tim Matheson was introduced to producer Daniel Grodnik by writer Charles Robert Carner. Matheson was interested in learning how to produce. Grodnik said to him if you ever bring me a piece of material that I like, you can be a producer on it with me. Two weeks later Matheson screened "Zatoichi Challenged" (Zatôichi chikemuri kaidô (1967)) for Grodnik to develop as an American remake. It took two directors, three studios, seven years, and eleven drafts of the screenplay, to finally get the movie about a blind samurai in America made. Grodnik sold it to Jeff Sagansky, the president of Tri-Star Pictures, by pitching him two ad lines: "He don't need no dog" and "Pray you see him before he hears you". The main tagline in the end used on American movie posters was similarly: "He may be blind but he don't need no dog."
Star Rutger Hauer) has said of this movie on his official website: "Blind Fury (1989) was one of the most difficult jobs for me because of the combination with the swordplay. I'm glad it does not show. I mean that is was so difficult. Trained a month with a blind man who taught me his handicap. He was such a nice man. First thing he said was, 'I don't get confused about what I see...'. Then I trained every morning at 4:30 [am] before shooting for those seven weeks. Then Shô Kosugi was brought in for the swordplay. That was an additional shoot for a week or so. Wonderful."
Producer Tim Matheson has said of the weather conditions during principal photography: "We shot in the Midwest and West, and it was incredibly hot. Everything was burning up. We ended up buying a three-foot pool for the cast and crew to wade through to cope with the heat."
The character of Nick Parker (Rutger Hauer) is based on the famous Japanese samurai character of Zatoichi. Showbusiness trade-paper 'Variety' stated that Zatoichi appeared in "...a couple of dozen popular actions films for Japanese company Daiei in the 1960s and early 1970s". The movie's source Zatoichi film of which it is a remake is Zatôichi chikemuri kaidô (1967) this being the seventeenth film in the Japanese franchise known as the "Blind Swordsman" series.
The film's closing credits declare that the movie is "based on a screenplay by Ryôzô Kasahara". This billing doesn't mention the name of the film of that script which is "Zatoichi Challenged" (Zatôichi chikemuri kaidô (1967)).
Actor Rutger Hauer "...learnt how to use the sword and walk and move like a blind man, with the help of a real blind judoka : Lynn Manning" according to Hauer's personal website. Manning acted uncredited on the film as a blindness technical adviser.
According to website Wikipedia, "the UK version was trimmed when it was released on VHS. The dialogue 'Gasoline mixed with detergent...' was taken out due to the BBFC [British Board of Film Classification]'s worries of imitations from audiences".
Second 1980s movie where star Rutger Hauer portrayed a sword-fighter with the first being around four years earlier with Paul Verhoeven's Flesh+Blood (1985). That movie was set in dark age medieval times whereas Blind Fury (1989) is a modern contemporary set picture.
This movie is a remake of the Japanese film Zatôichi chikemuri kaidô (1967) which is most popularly known in the English language as "Zatoichi Challenged" but its literal English translation is actually "Zatoichi's Spurting Blood Road".
Nick Park and Frank Devereaux were written as nods to Marvel comic book character Nick Fury and Frank Castle/The Punisher. Both Nick Fury and Frank Castle were both war veterans (Fury fought in World War II and Castle fought in Vietnam). Nick Parker is blinded by a mortar explosion and Frank Deveraux's Ex wife Lynn is murdered by illegal casino owner and crime boss MacCreadey. Both Nick Parker and Frank Devereaux are Vietnam veterans and the film's title happens to be "Blind Fury".
Billy has a poster of First Blood (1982) in his bedroom. In First Blood (1982), Vietnam veteran John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) uses his Vietnam combat skills against the small town Sheriff (Brian Dennehy) whom arrested him for vagrancy. Nick and Frank both fought in the Vietnam war.
The film is called "Blind Fury" and the lead character is called Nick Parker. The Marvel comic book hero Nick Fury is a former United States army officer and World War II veteran whom lost his left eye in the line of duty.
Producer Tim Matheson was a big fan of the Zatoichi - Blind Swordsman series of cinema movies which were the inspiration for Blind Fury (1989) with the film actually being a remake of one installment called "Zatoichi Challenged" (Zatôichi chikemuri kaidô (1967)).
The film's ending and Nick seen walking along the highway during the end credits was written as a nod to the western genre. Resolving the crisis in town, the lone gunfighter decides not to stay and decides to leave and move on and rides back out into the desert wilderness.
Slag's death at the end of the movie was mirrored in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999), which in that film, Darth Maul (Ray Park) is cut in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and falls to his death.
In the narrative behind why Nick doesn't get on the bus to San Francisco and decides to leave Frank and Billy and go traveling on his own - Nick had made his peace with Frank and forgave him for what happened to him in Vietnam, which was the reason why he wanted to visit Frank when he returned to the United States and Frank decided to let go of the past and decided to move on with his life.