The Perfect Weapon (1991) Poster

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Probably the best Kenpo movie ever made.
almostmetal4 June 2005
..But that's not to say the movie is all-around great. It's a very typical low-budget action flick. The story is pretty cookie-cutter as far as action movies go. It isn't Shakespeare believe me. And the acting is substandard at best. But Jeff Speakman to his enormous credit is a very accomplished martial artist. And having studied Kenpo for many years I can safely say that it's one of the most faithful films to capture the art. And what is even more impressive is the way the film portrays how Kenpo works when compared to different styles (like Tae Kwon Do).

So despite some minor inadequacies it's pretty awesome in many other respects. So for that I give it major credit. And to be honest it's a fun, feel good flick. I would recommend it to any martial arts fan. It's a good time.
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Getting your kicks...
Frank Markland14 June 2006
Jeff Speakman(The master of kempo) made his debut in The Perfect Weapon, in this he plays Jeff Sanders a construction worker/drifter who brings vengeance to the Korean mobsters responsible for his mentor(Mako)'s death, his cop brother Adam(John Dye) keeps trying to tell Jeff that there are proper procedures but Jeff proceeds to hunt and pulverize anybody who gets in his way. There was just something about martial arts movies that I loved, something to this day I can't put my finger on. The Perfect Weapon was made to rival Steven Seagal, as Warner Bros had Seagal under contract, so Paramount introduced us to Jeff Speakman. Speakman should have had a bigger career at least on the basis of this, The Perfect Weapon features everything you would expect from a martial arts action flick but also has a stronger narrative and a sharper pace. That being said there are a couple of slow moments but Speakman is always there to kick life into the movie and on this level The Perfect Weapon works as a great guilty pleasure. Also Professor Toru Tanaka makes for a great villain.

* *1/2 out of 4-(Pretty good)
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Jeff Speakman's first and best
alfred_zamora14 June 2000
Where can I learn to fight like that? This movie is fantastic. The fight scenes are choreographed perfectly and make Speakman out to be a good fighter, but not invincible(he does get hit a few times, quite nastily I might add). This is much better than a Steven Seagal film where he never suffers one blow from the bad guys. The way Speakman moves is breathtaking. Its almost hard to believe that what he's doing is actually a martial art. But it is. And he does it so well.

The plot in this movie is simple: its just another revenge flick. This makes the movie easier to watch because you don't have to really watch the plot, just the action. Its rather disappointing that after this and Street Knight, speakman was reduced to doing low-budget films. He deserves another big budget movie like this. Fantastic action, fantastic martial arts choreography make this a 10/10 movie. If you haven't seen it yet you must WATCH IT NOW.
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The Perfect Weapon is the best Jeff Speakman movie we've seen to date.
Comeuppance Reviews6 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Jeff Sanders (Speakman) has been training in Kenpo since he was a young boy. At first, it was because his father wanted to direct all his unruly, youthful energy. Now he's a Kenpo master who abides by his own tagline, "no gun, no knife, no equal" (though technically he does use Arnis sticks). When his friend, a shop owner named Kim (Mako) comes under fire from the Korean mob, Sanders snaps into action. But will he snap some necks along the way? Along his quest, he must utilize the help of his brother, a cop named Adam, and a young punk kid named Jimmy (Fist of the North Star (1995) and Blood and Bone (2009)'s Basco) but it's going to take all of Jeff's Kenpo skills to fight off Yung (Hong), Kai (Tagawa) and the intimidating Tanaka (played, unsurprisingly, by Professor Toru Tanaka). Is Jeff Sanders the PERFECT WEAPON? Find out today...

The Perfect Weapon is the best Jeff Speakman movie we've seen to date...and why wouldn't it be: it was his first starring role, as well as being a major studio release tailor-made to showcase his Kenpo talents to the world. As might be expected, the fight scenes are the highlight of the production. Speakman clearly has "got game", as it were, enough to compete with all his competitors at the time. The whole thing is well-shot and you can see all the moves. Refreshingly, this was before quick cuts, green screens and nu-metal corroded the action genre. Sure, it slows down before the climax, but that's a common action movie malady we've seen countless times before. There's the time honored warehouse showdown, but this time employees still work there and it's not abandoned. So there's a slight difference there.

Gumming up the works is the introduction of Jimmy, the classic young punk kid. He gives his scenes with Speakman an unpleasant American Ninja 5 (1993) vibe. He even un-ironically whines "are we there yet?" at one point. Now, let's not forget Mariska Hargitay, TV's Olivia Benson, is technically in this movie as well. Despite being top-billed, she has literally zero spoken dialogue and appears only in brief flashes. It would have been so much cooler if Speakman teamed up with her to bust some heads in Koreatown. But no, there has to be an annoying kid, and the movie goes slower with Jimmy.

At least the movie is well-made, and, plotwise, it's actually about Kenpo, which gives the whole thing consistency. Yes, the whole thing looks like it was shot on a backlot (there are some pretty obvious sets), but some of them are cool - look at "Club Croc-Pit". Notably, the film starts out with Speakman sweatily working out, shirtlessly, in sweatpants, to Snap's "The Power". You just know he intentionally put that song on because he believes it was written about him. You can't get more 1991 than that. When I was eleven years old, I remember seeing a commercial on TV for this movie, and even then, thinking, "another one?" - meaning, I already knew about Arnie, Sly, Seagal, Van Damme, and perhaps others involved in the late 80's/early 90's action boom, and I was surprised "they" (meaning studio higher-ups) were rolling out a new guy. How could I, or anyone, have known that the U.S. action boom was about to go bust. We should really treasure what we have.

Director DiSalle has had an interesting career - he's only directed this and Kickboxer (1989), but he produced Speakman's Street Knight (1993), as well as Bloodsport (1988) and Death Warrant (1990). He wrote the story for Kickboxer 2 (1989), acted in all five of the aforementioned movies, and that's about it for him. Apparently he only works with Speakman or Van Damme. Seems like a good way to go through life. Anyway, The Perfect Weapon, despite a few flaws, would prove to be the last theater-released movie from the action boom of the day. That alone makes it worth seeing.
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Jeff Speakman rocks in The Perfect Weapon!
dworldeater14 November 2013
Jeff Speakman really shines in this early 90's beat em' up. He has a lot of charisma, good screen presence and great fighting skills. Directed by Mark DiSalle who made JCVD classics Bloodsport and Kickboxer previous to this. When his family friend Kim is harassed then murdered by the Korean crime syndicate, Jeff Speakman beats up many bad guys on his mission for justice. The pace is quick with much well choreographed martial arts action. The support cast is great with Mako, James Hong, Professor Toru Tanaka, James Lew as well as many Asian Hollywood regulars that worked during this period.If you like the Van Damme and Segal movies of the late 80's/early 90's you will most likely dig The Perfect Weapon. It is too bad Jeff Speakman did'nt make many films with a decent budget. If he had the chance to do more projects of the same caliber and quality as TPW, he would be a household name in the action genre.
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Jeff Speakman's performance in "The Perfect Weapon" is awesome. This plot is able to magnificently interweave furious action sequences with the literary theme of the return home. While the plot differs markedly from that of "The Odyssey" by the epic bard Homer, there is still one vital thread that can be explored: both heroes return home after a long exile to kick ass and reclaim their positions in society. The ensuing list of possible contrasts and comparisons is exhausting if not infinite. However, if one is to understand one point, it is that in both works, martial arts are employed to signify the process of social transition; the re-integration of the hero into society.

To be a little less formal, let use the martial arts aspect as a segue into a nifty little observation. Jeff Speakman is a reasonably well known proponent of Ed Parker's Kenpo Karate, developed in U.S. during the 1940s and 1950s. "The Perfect Weapon" is an excellent primer on the power and wisdom of this art. The clearest example of this exposition is at Master Lo's Kenpo school, where Speakman learns both the skills and valuable lesson he will keep with him for the rest of his life; the most important being the difference between the tiger and the dragon. Yet, the movie is set in Koreatown, where Tae Kwon Do is the martial art du jour. The korean flags are prominent in the gym scene, and the references to Korean culture abound. There appears then, to be a subtle not so subtle match up between Kenpo Karate and Tae Kwon Do. The climax of this tension comes as Speakman confronts Leo Lee (Bandana) in the gym, looking for a guy who is 'good in Tae Kwon Do.' Does the ensuing three on one fight symbolize the clash of fighting styles? No one will ever know what Ed Parker or Mark DiSalle wanted to achieve here, but the contrast is too present to be simply a coincidence.

Alas, all reviews must end somewhere, and though I have much more to say, I will end my two cents with a small criticism of the action in the film. Anyone with a decent amount of martial arts experience will note that in the final warehouse scene, the knife attacks are undoubtedly more akin to training exercises than to real street techniques, but then again that may have been purposely done. It is also worth noting that this author has minimal training in Kajukenbo (an art based on Kenpo) and is far from an expert in the field.

The one thing that I can say with reasonable auctoritas is that this movie is electric from start to finish.
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Fight fest
ctomvelu125 January 2013
As Steve Segal's career began to decline, Jeff Speakman's was on the rise. Of the various martial arts movies Speakman did,l this is by the far the best, although Lord knows it is no masterpiece. There is very little plot other than revenge, but the fight scenes are well done and plentiful. Many familiar faces (Mako, James Hong, Toru Tanaka) are on hand to support Speakman, who is about as good an actor as Segal, which is to say not particularly good. But he looks great in the fight scenes. A young and delectable Mariska Hargitay, later of L&O: SVU, is along for the ride. Speakman was one of several actors that Hollywood briefly employed to capitalize on Segal's success. None lasted all that long. It took the arrival of Jet Li to spark new interest in martial arts flicks.
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Fun if b-grade martial arts movie
SoftKitten802 December 2004
This is my favorite martial arts movie. The plot is easy to follow, which makes it good for non-martial arts viewers like me. Jeff has an easygoing personality and is very easy on the eyes. There are some elements of Asian-American meets Asian, and Jeff melts into that world almost effortlessly. The opening scene is memorable as Jeff shows us some of his martial arts moves in full condition, and has a good opening song. The film never drags. Great movie for couples to watch together as it isn't necessarily a "guy" film. Unfortunately, Jeff never followed through on the promise he showed in this, his best film. He later started doing mellow kind of dad movies. His time would have been better spent developing his acting abilities, which are rather wooden. But it's a good kind of b-grade acting.
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Violence, noisy action, fights, and revenge by one army man
ma-cortes12 January 2009
When his mentor(Mako) is killed, Jeff(Jeff Speakman) plots revenge only to find Korean mobsters and hoodlums. Training at the hands of an instructor-master who trained him on lethal martial art skills and the combat in Kempo Karate . He must exact his own form of justice turning into the ¨perfect weapon¨. He's a new hero in Los Angeles , an avenger who woos to revenge against the murderers.Jeff naturally takes on multiple opponents , cleaning up nasties Koreans and he beats, punch, knocks, kicks and defies the gravity with bounds and leaps.

The film packs lots of violence,action-filled,thrills, and fierce combats with spectacular fighting.The story leave no cliché untouched, and the struggles are well staged.The movie is starred by Jeff Speakman, he's 6th degree blackbelt in American Kenpo Karate . He's director of American Kenpo , an International Kenpo Karate organization with more than 50 schools.This is his greatest hit but his career failed in ¨C grade¨ movies(Hot Boyz, Deadly outbreak,Memorial day), becoming himself a failed star.Secondary cast is formed by habitual oriental good guys: Mako,Clyde Kusatsu and bad guys played by ominous villainous with offensive racial stereotypes, such as Cary Hiroyuky Tagawa, James Hong and Professor Tanaka. The Professor was a wrestler who possessed incredible strength and was arguably the successor to Harold Sakata(the Chinese baddie in James Bond vs. Goldfinger) as the archetypal Asian Henchman. The motion picture is professionally directed by Mark DiSalle who tried repeat similar success to 'Kickboxer-Jean Claude Van Damme', but he didn't achieve. The movie is dedicated to Ed Parker and the spirit of Kenpo Karate. The result is a strong entry for action buffs and martial art enthusiastic.
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Sweet flick
Segal is Past His Prime3 January 2005
Another great, B level action film. Speakman is a great martial artist. He can really rip up a group of Koreans in a club or on their own turf at their gyms. He uses a lot of punches which I like cause after a while guys look pretty silly flipping through the air with gravity defying kicks that level small country sides. It had a few plot twists which is rare for the caliber of movie it was, a deep history that needed resolution and a club scene with exotic Asians. Who could ask for more? Well OK maybe you could, but still this movie is pretty sweet. Especially when they bring in Tanaka, that really big guy that seems to dip his hand in every little karate or bond movie to come around his olfactory senses. The ending was a bit anti-climactic but Ill let you decide that.
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