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I bought this one hoping for a fighting movie with Bolo Yeung as the main character. I was wrong about that. Bolo is more of a supporting character in the movie, and he only has one real fight. That was a disappointment to me, although the two main characters in the movie are OK. When it comes to the fight scenes, they're far from the best that I've seen. But, I've seen a lot worse too (try the totally ridiculous "Gladiator Cop", for example). The whole movie looks a bit cheap. The fight scenes are also very brutal, I guess they're the most brutal scenes I've seen I a martial arts movie. I have no problem with that, but I didn't really see the point in it. If you're not a hardcore action/martial arts-fan, you won't find any entertainment in this movie.
Oh, those good old days of the VHS, when movies, no matter their
low-budget, had meaning. Back in the 80s martial arts films were so
popular that any backdoor-garage-studio could produce a low budget film
and make tons of money. After JCVM paved the way for tournament
fighting style movies with his successful film, "Blood Sport," it was
sure that many others clones would follow. Shootfighter followed on the
same path but with a lower budget and less flare.
Shootfighter tells the story of two friends, Ruben (William Zabka) and Nick (Michael Bernardo), who are tricked to fight in a no-holds-barred tournament to the death by a blood hungry shootfighter named Mr. Lee (Martin Kove). Their master, Shingo (Bolo Yeung), has to save them from Lee and his cronies.
This movie was memorable because it had Zabka and Kove, both antagonists on Karate Kid (1984) and Yeung the main antagonist in Blood Sport. Now, the acting was average, photography was average, the plot was average, but the martial art choreography was top notch. That's one thing, no matter how cheap movies were back in the 80s and 90s they had some awesome fighting.
If you love old martial arts films, get a pizza, a case of beer, and watch this retro junk on a late Saturday night. You won't regret it.
"You-disgraced-the-art-of-shoot-fighting" This opening quote sets the
tone for this lively beat-em-up starring the ever-lovable Bolo Yeung as
The plot revolves around two buddies named Ruben and Nick played by Zabka and Michael Bernardo respectively. Yeung plays their mentor. There is the prerequisite montage where he teaches them to "shootfight" and also they play basketball with young black children and Shingo smiles in an oddly fatherly way. Before the shootfighting tournament, there is a fight in a grocery store a la "Cobra" (1986) where Bolo shows off both his fighting and his broken English skills.
You may remember Zabka as Johnny from "The Karate Kid" where he infamously swept his leg at Macchio. Apparently he couldn't get enough karate-chopping action, so he hooked up with director Patrick Allen to give birth to Allen's one and only cinematic baby.
Ruben and Nick get embroiled in an underground "Shootfighting" ring. They eventually have to shootfight each other...to the death, but not before battling an array of wacky baddies in the ring, such as "Boa", who acts like a snake (including the hisses) and Mongoose, who adopts a mongoose fighting style, whatever that means. Some fights have a surprising amount of gore (i.e. limbs and fingers being broken off in a bloody mess), and this provides unintentional laughter and it sustains the viewer's interest until the end.
Martin Kove plays the evil mastermind, inexplicably named "Mr. Lee", who is behind all the shootfighting, and in his villainous rage, slices a pineapple with a samurai sword.
What is "Shootfighting" you ask? Well, that question is never quite answered satisfactorily, but after doing some research we were able to determine (by reading the back of the VHS box) that it is a "forbidden sport so brutal it's banned from the civilized world".
Prepare to get uncivilized with this classic.
Comeuppance Review by: Ty & Brett
For more insanity, check out:comeuppancereviews.com
Two young karate heads (Michael Bernardo and THE KARATE KID villain
William Zabka) travel to Mexico and become seduced by the world of
shootfighting, a deadly bloodsport type tournament. Hoping for a quick
profit, our dudes stay to duke it out with a bunch of other fighters.
Profit, however, is the least of the tournament organizer Mr. Lee's
(Martin Kove) motives. Seems the boy's sensei Shingo (Bolo Yeung, in a
rare good guy role) disgraced Lee in the past, leaving him with an arm
forever in a brace. Seeing as how these are the prize pupils, Lee hopes
to get the sensei to come to Mexico, setting the stage for and
This was riding that post-BLOODSPORT wave (hell, they got Bolo) but perks it up a bit with some graphic violence (throat slashings, brain bashing, and even a heart ripped out). It was one of the few direct-to- video action titles back in the day to come out in R-rated and unrated offerings. The fight scenes are nothing new and the two leads (Bernardo looking like a muscle-bound Mickey Dolenz) are annoying. But you have to respect a film that casts Bolo as a docile sensei. There is even a bit where he shoots basketball with a young kid. You can't beat that type of anti-typecasting. Maryam d'Abo is the love interest and Eddie Albert also appears as a manager/gambler type (which he also did in FIST FIGHTER). The two karate kids and the sensei returned a few years later in SHOOTFIGHTER 2 (1996).
Shootfighter: Fight to the Death is a marital arts film at it's low budget best. But surpisingly the film does have some decent fight scenes. It was good to see William Zabka in another martial arts role and the always good Bolo Yeung. He final fight scene with Martin Kove is one of the best for both actors. If you get a chance check this one out cuz it's not half bad.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A quarter million grand prize waiting at the top of the shadowy podium
pits hungry combatants with diverse fighting styles against one
another. Some fighters more aware of the extent of the changes to the
rules than others.
Enter two fleet footed late twenties with a rad taste for cheesy ambient music and chest thumping teenage dialogue. Frustrated with the pace of the official ladder these restless slow-bloomers watch a promotional shootfighting video and quickly decide to take time out of their busy chick wooing schedule to head for Mexico.
After less than glowing results in the first leg, the two disagree when it comes to upping the stakes to move into the next round. They go their separate ways, rebellious drifter taking straight arrow's place training for the Karate Regionals while he adopts his own training regime to ready himself for the shootfighting finals.
The finals unveil the brutality in a flurry of heated death matches and without an exit his buddy has to return to fight by his side. Foolhardy deal making tests the limits of their friendship and ultimately presses their trainer and shootfighting master into the match he refused the exiled leader of the underground Mexican ring all those years ago.
This is one of those movies which is for karate, tae kwon do, kung fu
and kick boxing fans, and of course, practitioners. This low budget
martial arts movie, which is, as most of them very simple when it comes
to the story, characters, directing and other stuff. There is simply no
real complex stuff, no real dilemma between characters and no
development. It's a typical good VS evil story with the haunting past
element. A fighter Nick (Michael Bernardo) returns to his good friend
Ruben (William Zabka), and upon their reunion they decide to sign in on
the underground fighting tournament, held by Mr. Lee (Martin Kove).
Nick founds out that the fights are brutal and sometimes to the death.
But, Ruben is persistent and wants to fight. So, Nick asks for help
from Ruben's teacher Shingo (Bolo Yeung), to save Ruben's life.
So, the movie is actually nothing special. Pretty bad when it comes to some stuff For example, actors can't act. Well, most of them are martial artists. The real actors are maybe Edward Albert, Richard Eden and Maryam D'Abo (and I still don't understand how did she get here?). Edward Albert and Richard Eden are not bad actors, but they really appeared in much of the low budget films. Martin Kove is also not a bad actor, but his villain Mr. Lee is just evil and that's it. He is evil and he looks kind of deadly. Nothing more. Though Kove posses some kind of charisma. Michael Bernardo didn't do much with his character, he just under played it. William Zabka was not that bad, I think he was decent. Though his character is somewhat irritating. Just wouldn't listen and he is too prideful. And not in an interesting, complex way he is just a jerk. Zabka did not move from these kind of films, he remained well known for being martial artist on the film, or rather a bully, just like in "Karate Kid". And for the last I saved Bolo Yeung. What can I say? This man cannot act and he doesn't have to. This man has such a powerful appearance on the film, such a powerful charisma and character that he simply doesn't need to act. He played himself basically, but this time he was the good guy. Go, Bolo, go! He is the main man.
The other things in the movie are nothing special, OK, the most important fighting scenes. They were good, plausible. Well done filmed. Though, there are some that were ridiculous. And I think that music score is pretty interesting, especially in training montage. I recommend this film to all martial arts movie fans.
You have probably watched Bloodsport with Jean Claude Van-Damme and the
awesome Bolo Yeung as a villain, Bolo also stars in this movie, he just
have one fight, but his role is important for the plot.
Nick and Ruben decides to join some shootfighting matches for win a great amount of money. The shootfighting champion is Mr Lee, Lee killed Shingo's brother (played by Bolo Yeung, Shingo is also the master of Nick and Ruben) in a shootfighting match, held in Hong Kong. Is this a chance for Shingo for revenge his brother's death ?
Like i said, there is a touch of gore (including the most graphic arm breaking scene that i ever saw), that made the movie more enjoyable. Bolo Yeung performance was awesome, just like in Bloodsport, but here, Bolo have an important role for the plot. The soundtrack was just OK for this kind of movie. watch it, IT'LL TEAR YOUR HEART OUT !
Shootfighter (and its sequel Shootfighter II) can claim only one real
distinction; it gives Bolo Yeung a chance to play a good-guy for a
change. I happen to like that. Otherwise it is a not- bad example of
the 'no-rules tournament' school of martial arts film. The music
strikes me as above average, and the acting isn't actually painful, but
this isn't deep, significant, or an undiscovered gem of film history.
It's a "B" film; an exploitation gig - what Roger Corman would do if he
was into punch and kick operas.
Jet Li does this better, and so does Chuck Norris sometimes. Otherwise, you could do a LOT worse.
I watched this for the first time a few years ago to declare my
fan-lust for Michael Bernardo, back then anything that came out his
mouth sounded good. But I saw it again today and on closer inspection,
this movie has some of the worst dialog ever. When viewed with the
sound off the actors do a generally good job of presenting their
feelings, so they cannot be blamed for the corniness of the final
As such the deepest soul searching moments are the ones that are presented through what some may call typical a training montage, and of course the tournament fights with a wide variety of styles and weapons.
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